It was a late start to an already late start. The plan had been to hit the West Fork of Rock Creek trailhead, located outside of Red Lodge, MT on July 5th for a solo two nights and three days of backpacking and climbing several of the high peaks in the Beartooth Mountains of south-central Montana.
Approach was straightforward from Killen Creek TH. Open air bivy at 7,000'. Minor glacier travel with little to no crevasse danger to base of the route. A long, moderate snow slope began at about 9000'.
I knew visiting the Ruth Gorge for the first time would be awesome, but years of reading, watching, listening, and dreaming about the Alaska Range might as well have been fiction.
I heard this phrase from my dad so many times growing up that when I heard it I would just roll my eyes and think, yeah dad, whatever. While there are questions about the origin of the saying, it gained popularity in the 30’s and 40’s during the austere times of the Great Depression and resource shortages of World War II.
In the winter season that just continued to give to us ice and alpine climbers, we tried to zero in on another objective. We had always heard "The Pencil" come up as the obvious unclimbed line on the north side of Mt. Hood.