|Looking north to Holland peak after about an hour on the ridge.|
I spent a hot Saturday traversing the crest of the Swan range from the lookout above Holland lake to Smith Creek pass. I had done this trip as an overnight in the summer of 2004, and it was fun to return almost a decade later with a light and fast approach. I jogged out of the Holland lake trailhead before first light. My legs felt sluggish, so I kept the pace relaxed, and enjoyed a spectacular sunrise on the Mission mountains. I left the trail at the lookout, traversing north before dropping almost 1,000 feet to upper Necklace lake for 3 liters of water. From the lake, I regained the ridge and continued over Buck mountain to the normal south ridge route on Holland peak. I continued down the class 4 north ridge of Holland peak as the first cramping sensations began to creep into my thighs. Having no desire to sieze up into a cramped ball of pain this far from the car, I slowed to brisk hiking pace through the immaculate, extended knife-edge ridge walking north of Holland. Eventually the knife edge ridge broadened out, and I scrambled quickly across the head of Albino basin and up the south ridge of the peak south of Coney. Hurrying down the north ridge, I spied Leah and Natalie making their way to Coney peak. I eventually caught them, and we summited the final peak within minutes of one another. The run out was enjoyable, if not a bit longer than anticipated. We all rendezvoused back at the car, swapping stories from another amazing day in western Montana.
|Looking out at Holland lake and the Missions.|
|Looking back south along the clean ridge to Holland peak.|
This traverse is very high quality, especially the portion from Holland peak to Smith creek pass. I would heartily recommend it as one of the finest long hikes/scrambles in the Missoula area.
Total elevation gain (based on topo map): 10,200 feet
Trip length: 9 hours, 42 minutes trailhead to trailhead
Partial Accomplices: Leah and NatalieSustenance: Big breakfast (too big). 6L of water with electrolyte tabs and about 2,500 calories of Gu, Honey, Heed, and energy bars.
Fatigue factor (1-10): 7
Cramp severity index (1-10): 7.5 (merely threatening)
Stoke factor: (1-10): 9
Memories to suppress: Late night bike shuttle, frustrating threat of cramps for much of the time, descending to the wrong lake for water.