Granite Peak – Cooke City-Silver Gate, Montana - Atlas Obscura
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Cooke City-Silver Gate, Montana

Granite Peak

The highest point in Montana is as rugged and singular as the state itself. 

Montana’s is the only state highpoint that requires a vertical, though comparatively short, rock climb. Also, there’s the matter of Froze-to-Death Plateau and Tempest Mountain along the way.

In the Beartooth Mountains of southern Montana, Granite Peak at 12,799 feet above sea level was the last of the state highpoints to be climbed, waiting until 1923 for its first summit. Depending on who one asks, either this mountain or Mount Rainier are considered the toughest of the summits aside from Mount McKinley. On its standard route, the South Face, the hike is a long 12 miles that is typically done in two days, with a camp on Froze-to-Death Plateau near the base of Tempest Mountain. In summer, severe storms make Tempest Mountain live up to its name, so climbers must be prepared for severe weather at all times.

This route also features the only vertical rock climb required among the state highpoints. The climb occurs just below the summit and goes up a few hundred feet, but as Charlie Winger writes in his guidebook, Highpoint Adventures, “This is an easy place to get hurt and you are a long, long way away from help.” It is also a very bad place to be if the weather turns ugly. Climbers should have plenty of experience before tackling this mountain.

Know Before You Go

The South Face Route can be accessed from East Rosebud or West Rosebud Trailheads. Hike and climb 12 miles on the Route to the summit. Be prepared for severe weather.