Elkhorn Five Peak Traverse FKT attempt
Aug 17, 2021 at 6:29 pm #3725098
Companion forum thread to: Elkhorn Five Peak Traverse FKT attempt
The Elkhorn Mountains are a small range in Central Montana, close to my home town of Helena. The are probably most famous for the trophy elk opportunAug 17, 2021 at 6:41 pm #3725099matthew kModerator
Great trip report!
Also, nice use of Imgur to get your images in-line in the TR.Aug 18, 2021 at 9:15 pm #3725224Tom MBPL Member
Great trip report Mike! This was my first trip into the Elkhorn’s and what a grand tour. Fantastic weather in a terrific range with awesome people it doesn’t get any better than that. Thanks for the invitation and the hospitality.Aug 19, 2021 at 6:44 am #3725237Monte MastersonBPL Member
@septimiusLocale: Changes Often
Wow, you guys are some tough SOB’s. 28 miles in 18 hours with 8,500′ elevation gain? I wish my knees would allow me to still do something like that. When I read Elkhorn mountains I at first thought Bighorn mountains in Wyoming. Looks like a brutal slog through some magnificent scenery. I was going to say I’ll bet you guys slept good the night after the hike, but I find in that situation the body is in such shock it’s actually hard to get to sleep. That’s what good ole Kentucky bourbon is for.
Thanks for the report. Would be nice to maybe see what your gear list was like for such an adventure. I suppose it was probably more of a just in case overnight kit.Aug 19, 2021 at 5:55 pm #3725293Josh JBPL Member
Nicely done!Aug 21, 2021 at 8:29 am #3725362
Thanks! It was tough, but for some reason the tough ones are the ones that get burned more deeply in your memory :)
Monte- I was using a UD Fastpack 15 (I’m pretty sure that’s what John and Andrew were using too)- I had a light hardshell, windshirt that was on/off several times, a lightweight hooded fleece (more for an unplanned night out), light fleece beanie and gloves for clothing packed. A 48 oz soft sided Nalgene and two 16 oz Nalgenes- one frozen solid and one on the vest. Used a Steriepn Ultralight for treating water. Probably in the neighborhood of 4000 calories (3-4 bars in reserve for an unplanned night). Carried a blizzard blanket for emergency (~10 oz) and a small TR sitpad. Black Diamond Spot lamp w/ a spare set of batteries. The usual stuff like map/compass, small first aid and fire kit, sunscreen, etc. Also a inReach Mini which several others guys carried as well.
I think I was a little under 5 lbs (without water, which varied depending on where we were)Aug 22, 2021 at 8:02 am #3725427
Nice trip Mike.
I know of quite a few people that have done it. The first ones that I’m aware of was Don Harris, Mike Casey and Barb Harris back in the late 1980’s or early’90’s. There may have been more on that trip but I just remember those three.
Last ones I remember were Fred Robinson and Paul Lavigne. This was maybe 10 years ago.
Deadfall wasn’t as much of an issue years back but I know Fred and Paul had difficulties with it.Aug 22, 2021 at 8:22 am #3725430
Ed- that’s cool to know! I sent it out to the Hurl group email, we’ll see if any adventurous folks take on the challenge :)
There are a few sections that are runnable (going down into the Tizer once you hit the trail, a decent stretch in the Tizer Basin and the entire 6 miles out from Casey) that would shave a good chunk. We also probably lost an hour earlier, when we got the party separated.
It wouldn’t help too much on this route, but I’ve given serious thought of taking my large folding saw and axe and spending a night (maybe two) and clearing the Beaver Ck trail.Aug 22, 2021 at 9:08 am #3725437
I just heard from Mike Casey. Bill Hallinon was also on that first trip. Mike said it was 1986 or 1987 and took about 12 hours.
The 5 peaks have been on my list to do for a long time.
I guess I should do it before I get too darn old:)
Let me if you plan a Beaver Creek trail trip. That use to be my favorite run in the Elkhorns. Casey Meadows trailhead to Elk Park, then over to Clear Creek divide, down Beaver Creek and up Sheep Park then drop down to Casey Meadows.
There was a time when the trails were better and I was more fit that I could leave truck by 4:00 and be back around 10:00.Aug 22, 2021 at 9:24 am #3725441
They were humping! :)
Yup that’s the exact loop I was talking about, it’s fine to Elk Park and then at the junction near Moose Ck it’s been let go- Clear Ck, Beaver Ck and up and over Sheep Park all need clearing- it’s fine again once you break over and starting into Casey Meadows.
Ed I’ll let you know, would obviously go quicker with two clearing!Aug 22, 2021 at 9:29 am #3725442
That would have been before the Elkhorns burned in 1989. Much different.
Sheep Park to Casey Meadows is kind of a controlled free fall.:)Aug 22, 2021 at 9:56 am #3725446
Sheep Park to Casey Meadows is kind of a controlled free fall.:)
Agreed! when I’m feeling a little sadistic, I’ll reverse the route and go UP and over to Sheep Park :)Aug 22, 2021 at 10:38 am #3725449W I S N E R !BPL Member
Rad trip Mike.Aug 23, 2021 at 10:30 am #3725537
Nice trip report and what an impressive hike! I’ve been to the Elkhorn Ghost Town site but haven’t done any hiking around there yet. I get over to Helena for work once or twice a year and keep meaning to add some days to hike/backpack in the Elkhorns but it just hasn’t worked out yet.Aug 23, 2021 at 2:14 pm #3725584
^ it’s only about 3 miles to Elkhorn Peak from “town”- well worth checking out :)Aug 23, 2021 at 3:40 pm #3725602
Cool, good to know! I’ve also wanted to mountain bike/hike to Leslie Lake and check out an abandoned but usable miner’s cabin I’ve read about. I’m pretty fascinated by that old mining history and old structures so that’d be a draw for me.Aug 23, 2021 at 5:30 pm #3725611
the “cabin” sits about a 1/4 mile above the lake, just follow the trail that goes along the inlet stream; you can also continue following the “road” (it’s extremely rough) and it dead ends just a few hundred feet above the “cabin”
it looks pretty run down, but might be useable- I’d have to think that there is probably a good mouse/packrat population in it, but maybe not :)Aug 23, 2021 at 5:38 pm #3725612
Cool, thanks for the info. This article about some folks that backcountry skied into it in the winter is what piqued my interest: https://ravallirepublic.com/outdoors/basin-bound-trip-into-elkhorn-mountains-a-challenge-thanks-to-deep-powdery-snow/article_dadcbd8c-8850-11e2-99bf-001a4bcf887a.amp.html
I already take advantage of the USFS rental cabins/lookouts but always enjoy finding out about first-come, first-served options a bit off the radar.Aug 23, 2021 at 5:49 pm #3725613
it’s definitely worth a look see, but I think I’d have a shelter along just in case :)Aug 24, 2021 at 10:51 am #3725659Fred RBPL Member
Mike, Good job and great report and photos. Completing the “High Five” (as it has been called in Elkhorn lore) is a rare accomplishment and you should be proud. I think you probably have the FDT (First Documented Traverse). As noted by Ed, Paul Lavigne and I did this traverse maybe 10 years ago and Mike Casey did it in 86 or 87. I’ve heard others have done it as well. Paul and I may have the fastest time. I’m pretty sure we did it in under 12 hours. Mike also thinks they did it in less than 12. Paul and I ran large portions of the route especially through Tizer Basin but deadfall was a problem-even coming down from Casey Peak. We did not take pictures and were quite familiar with the route before we started so we saved time there. We were also veteran ultra-runners. We did not document our trip or record our time. Your report sure brought back memories. Thank-you.Aug 24, 2021 at 2:24 pm #3725675
^ Thanks for posting! Very cool you guys (and a few others) have done basically the same route.
“High Five”- I like it! :)
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