Peak(s):  Keller Mtn  -  13,085 feet
"North Traverse Pk"  -  13,079 feet
"Grand Traverse Pk"  -  13,041 feet
"Valhalla, Mt"  -  13,180 feet
"Snow Pk"  -  13,024 feet
Date Posted:  10/19/2008
Date Climbed:   10/16/2008
Author:  Furthermore
 A long Grand Traverse in the Gore Range  

Keller Mountain 13,085
"North Traverse Peak" 13,079
"Grand Traverse Peak" 13,041
"Valhalla" 13,180
"Snow" 13,024
~16.5 Miles, ~8,200 Gain.

Since there hasn't been a big dump of snow yet in the high country, I figured I would try to fit in one last good scramble; the winning bid went to the Grand Traverse in the Gore range. With some research, I figured I could collect 5 Gore 13eeners in a long day.

My climbing partner and I drove up the evening of the 15th and stayed at a friend's house in Avon. We woke up at 2:50 AM and drove to the Big Horn Creek trailhead where we started hiking around 3:50 AM. The hike up Big Horn Creek was enjoyable as the almost full moon lit the way. After hiking for a while we arrived at a cabin at ~10,800, where we took the trail that headed to the left, and after about another mile the trail disappeared. Our first objective was to climb Keller Mountain, so we headed toward the saddle of Keller Mountain and "North Traverse Peak." Since it was dark, the headwall to the saddle looked challenging. We started up a rock couloir directly below the saddle, but after some scree climbing we headed left to a ledge. After traversing on this ledge, we headed directly up to the saddle which was easy grass hiking. The climb was much easier than it appeared.

As we arrived at the saddle, the sun was beginning to rise. Since we had a long day ahead, we decided to ditch our packs and traverse on the east side of the ridge to Keller to avoid unnecessary elevation gain. This traverse was a slow process, and the summit of Keller was farther away than we had both anticipated. The difficulty on the traverse over to Keller did not exceed class 2.

Our stay on the summit of Keller was short but enjoyable and shortly thereafter we headed back toward our packs. When I returned to my pack, it felt like I had already done a full days workout but we had so much left. We ate some snacks and headed up the snow covered class 2 ridge to the summit of North Traverse Peak, where we arrived on the summit at ~9:50 AM. The view from the summit of the Grand Traverse with snow was dazzling and I was quickly re-energized.

We started our way toward the south summit (13,035) of North Traverse Peak staying on the ridge proper when we could. When we weren't on the ridge proper, we bypassed difficulties on the ridge to right (west side). After about 20 minutes of scrambling we arrived on the south summit where we started our descent toward "Grand Traverse Peak." As we descended, we avoided climbing over the first mellow buttress by hiking on the right side (southwest) of the ridge.

After hiking around this first buttress, the route got exciting. We came to a prominent more challenging buttress. The "obvious" route around this buttress, which traversed level to the saddle, was a steep snow covered sloping granite ledge. As I started traversing on this ledge, I could tell that it was extremely slick and that it wasn't going to be a viable option. Traversing well below this buttress wasn't much of an option either unless we wanted massive elevation loss, which we didn't. I checked around to the left of this buttress and found an exposed snow covered chimney which took us to the top of the buttress.

When I arrived at the summit of this buttress, I had a sick feeling as there wasn't a good way to descend off. Staying on the ridge proper led to a 50+ foot cliff, and I really didn't want to descend the exposed snow covered chimney which we ascended. Fortunately, my partner found a very exposed downclimb on the sunny side of the ridge. As I started down, I found out quickly that I should have downclimbed facing in, as my backpack was trying to eject me from the cliff. I quickly gained my balance and downclimbed the 4th-5th class climb to a ledge. Then we descended a class 4 chute, from the ledge which appeared to be back on route, down to easier terrain.

Once we got back on easier terrain, we were able to make good time traversing on the right side of the ridge. At last, we reached the final class 3 climb to the summit. We ended up climbing up a rocky gully to the ridge, where we then climbed the ridge to the left, and then up some snow covered ledges. We took our time on these snow covered ledges as they were very slick and arrived at the summit of Grand Traverse peak around 11:40 AM. The traverse took us under 2 hours.

At this point, my partner was debating if he was going to climb the other two peaks I had on tap for the day. After resting for a bit, he figured the best option was to return to the car. After all, my partner did just climb ~6,600 feet of elevation. He decided to descend the south ridge of "Grand Traverse Peak" and then bail down a northwest facing rocky slope back into Big Horn Creek. It worked well for him. Nevertheless, this eliminated the need for a car shuttle for him, and fortunately for me, I now had a car to pick me up at the Deluge Lake trailhead. I wasn't looking forward to hiking the ~1.5 miles back to Big Horn Creek trailhead from the Deluge Lake trailhead.

I quickly descended the class 2 east ridge of "Grand Traverse," and started my way up "Valhalla." Much like the Grand Traverse, I avoided the ridges' difficulties to the right by skirting on ledges traversing upward. I gained the ridge proper at ~12,900 and followed it to the summit where I arrived around 1:00 PM. The traverse took about an hour and was mostly class 2 with some class 3 moves.

The traverse between "Valhalla" and "Snow" looked a bit more exciting. At this point, I could tell I was beginning to get tired. I quickly descended the rocky south ridge of "Valhalla" and initially bypassed the ridges' difficulties to the left (east) then headed back to right. After bypassing the first buttress, I stayed on the right (west) side of the ridge until I reached the saddle between "Snow" and "Valhalla." There was some class 3 scrambling involved to get to the saddle.

From the saddle, I continued up the north ridge of "Snow" which involved some class 3 moves. After a rewarding 5th summit at ~1:50 PM, I returned to the saddle between "Snow" and "Valhalla" and scree skied down to Deluge Lake. After a long trek, with some running, down the Deluge Lake trail, I arrived at my awaiting car at ~ 4:15 PM. It was a long, scrambly, successful day.

Sunrise on "Valhalla" from Keller.

Traverse to Keller.

Class 2 ridge to "North Traverse Peak"

The Grand Traverse from "North Traverse Peak"

Ridge from "North Traverse Peak" to point 13,035.

The Grand Traverse from 13,035.

The crux buttress.

Snowy climb to the top of buttress.

Snowy climb to the top of buttress.

Class 4 chute downclimb.

"Grand Traverse Peak" from the traverse.


Summit climb to "Grand Traverse Peak"

Summit climb up "Grand Traverse Peak"

"Valhalla" from the saddle.

Ledges on the traverse from "Grand Traverse Peak" to "Valhalla."

Summit Ridge to "Valhalla."

The Grand Traverse from "Valhalla."

"Snow Peak" on the traverse from "Valhalla."

"Snow Peak" on the traverse from "Valhalla."

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

 Comments or Questions

G(o)reat day
10/20/2008 18:28
Okay stole the word thing from susanjoypaul. When did you have time to take pictures?

Kevin Baker

11/30/2010 17:28
And I thought I was doing good with 7500' vertical from Keller to 12485! That is a huge day, especially with early season snow. You must be in great shape, Dereck!


02/05/2011 00:22
What an incredible day! Amazing that you covered all that ground - er, rock - in just twelve hours. That ”traversing” pic is just sick though...

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