Climbing Twin Peaks (8,7442 ft.)
in the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana
June 6-10, 2016
Copyright Notice

Twin Peaks is an 8,744 foot summit on the Continental Divide in the Bob Marshall Wilderness south of the Bob's Flathead Alps. I first saw Twin Peaks from the top of Prairie Reef some years ago. I got a much closer look in 2014 when Jim Utsler and I camped near Scarlet Mountain. From the summit of Scarlet Mountain the view of Twin Peaks is stunning and I immediately knew that I wanted to climb it. The approach is challenging. Finding a good route took two more years. April Seubert and I made the arduous approach in September 2015 only to be foiled by a cliff that required more protection than we had. In June 2016 Ron Gruber, April Seubert and I made another attempt. This time we werre successful.

Photos by Ralph Thornton

We began the approach to Twin Peaks at the Benchmark trailhead west of Augusta. A short hike found us at the South Fork Sun River Pack Bridge. We allowed six days for this trip. We planned to reach a base camp in two days, spend one day climbing, then two days hiking out. The extra day was for contingencies.
The trails were mostly dry but recent snows in the high country were melting. This resulted in more water in streams, some of which we had to wade.
Our first nights camp was a flat spot in the woods. Not too exciting but it got us close to where the fun would begin.
After a peaceful night we packed up and began the more difficult part of the approach. Our first objective was to hike up these steep grassy slopes low on Scarlet Mountain. After gaining about 300 feet we traversed west.
Scarlet Mountain is flanked by big cliffs. We climbed through the cliffs to reach the big open basin containing Scarlet Mountain on the south, Hoadley Reef on the east and Twin Peaks on the north.
Once above the cliffs we headed up the ridge to the summit of Scarlet Mountain. We figured we might as well climb the easy stuff along the way. There was some snow. It was soft and mushy making for some tiresome traverses.
Ron is resting on the summit of Scarlet Mountain (8,164 feet).
The view across the big basin was dominated by the higher snowy summits of Twin Peaks. We had to cross all that territory that afternoon to allow us to climb the following day.
We grabbed a quick "selfie" on the summit of Scarlet Mountain and headed north.
As we continued our high traverse thunderstorms began to build. Fortunately these held off until we reached a more sheltered place. The two hour rain delay in the afternoon was spent scounting for climbing routes and watching the lightning.
We eventually reached our destination for the day. Our camp in Ahorn Basin was a snowy one.
The climb of Twin Peaks required an alternate route than what we had originally planned. Steep snow above Ahorn Basin forced us to do an end around. Fortunately, while waiting out the storms the day before, we discovered a good route around some cliffs. We reached the crux of the climb shortly after noon. This was a short but difficult cliff. This is where April and I turned back last fall but this time we were more prepared.
Ron climbed the cliff and belayed April and me from above.
Once on top of the cliff we got a nice view of Ahorn Basin. Our camp was in the strip of snow just this side of the small lake.
The mountainsides were decorated with flowers. These forget-me-nots were the best. They were everywhere on the open rocky terrain.
Ron on the summit of Twin Peaks!
Ron, April and I really enjoyed the view. We could see much of the snowy Swan Range to the west, along with great expanses of other mountains in all directions. Twin Peaks is well situated to provide outstanding views.
This view is looking back toward Scarlet Mountain with miles of the Scapegoat Wilderness beyond.
Before long it was time to go. Our descent went very well including the safe and fun rappel of the cliff we had climbed earlier.
We began our two day hike out the following day. Along the way, since we were so close, we climbed to the top of Hoadley Reef (8,320 feet).
Ron, April and I on the summit of Hoadly Reef. Twin Peaks in the background.