Climbing Montana's Tallest Mountain, Granite Peak

Pushing Limits Above the Clouds

By: Karissa Frye + Save to a List

The rocks below my feet shook with every step forward, the harsh surface of the granite boulders scraped my hands as I tried to grasp them. My body insisted that I crawl. I was only half a mile from basecamp, but as I forced tears back, I became apprehensive to keep going. I laid down and declared defeat. My friend, who was a few yards ahead, yelled back, “I’m not carrying you, so you better get up. It’s getting late.” It was clear that my body was severely dehydrated. Our decision earlier that morning, to bring three liters of water between our group of four on summit day, took its toll on all of us. 

I spend every summer exploring the backcountry of the Beartooth Mountains, in southeastern Montana. They are close to home and even closer to my heart. When I turned 23, my aspiration for peak-bagging was taken to the next level. I decided that I wanted to tackle Granite Peak, the tallest point in Montana, and the second most challenging high point in the United States, after Denali.

Accompanied by three of my best friends, we successfully summited this unforgiving granite giant after two days of backpacking, and one day of exposed climbing. It was the most mentally and physically exhausting trip I have ever done. I left the peak feeling humbled and incredibly inspired.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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