Cooke City

First climb of the season.

As soon as we threw our stuff in the back of the Jetta, we were pretty much doomed. It’s our own fault. We’re just too damned cheap. The thing gets 40 miles to the gallon as opposed to the 4wd Tracker with decent clearance, which gets about 25. But it doesn’t always take high clearance to get into Hyalite, and that plan was looking less likely anyway. Hell, we had just changed our minds about scrapping the whole trip. East Rosebud was as far as we were going to get, and that never took high clearance, just a shovel to get through the drifts.

“Oh shit, we’re getting sucked over!”

 I said that based on feel; the car was plowing up a bit of snow, so I couldn’t really see it happening. By the time I could stop, we were already sideways in the ditch. On the downside, it was the middle of the night about 2 miles out the East Rosebud road. On the upside, it was only 2 miles out the East Rosebud road and we had a come-along and 50 feet of old rope in the back. We’re just cheap, not entirely stupid.

We made it back to the municipal campground in Columbus by 2 AM. There was talk of turning around the next morning, but after some coffee, we headed for Cooke City. It made no sense. Cooke City was the most distant destination South of the Canandian Rockies; literally the town at the end of the road through Yellowstone. But it was a plowed road. Besides, we had nothing to lose.

We got there at noon. Mike had called Jay at the Silvertip Mtn. Center and he’d told us he could see ice from his window. Sure enough, three climbs had formed on the cliff band overlooking the town. We got two in before dark.

Climb #2

There’d been talk of camping earlier in the day. Jay said we might be able to get to some Forest Service land behind the dump. The visitors’ center lady had looked at us like we were nuts when we’d asked her about somewhere to set up a tent. The dump road was steep and it was snowing heavily when we got back to town. So, we shelled out for a cabin at the Pine Edge. Painful, but probably for the best.

Silver Gate

Drying out at the Pine Edge.

The next morning we set out to climb Hydromonster. Our luck hadn’t taken a complete 180, though. The approach beta is thin and no one had been up to the climb yet this season. We post-holed, side-hilled and flopped over blown down timber for a couple of hours. At a key juncture, we tossed a coin and headed into the wrong drainage. It was late by the time we regrouped on the road, and a dip in the Boiling River was sounding better than another run at the approach by then anyway. It’s not like we wouldn’t be back. 

Bison, tail down mode


Boiling River


Nervous elk


Angry elk


All that and amebic meningoencephalitis


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