High Points: 'Point 7500', 'Point Six' (7942') and 'Murphy Peak' (8167')
Total Elevation Gain: 5,000 feet
Duration: 3 hours 23 minutes (round trip)
I got onto the mountain around 8AM via Snowbowl Ski Area. Although there is an established trail to the top of the Ski Area (~ 4 miles), I opted for the most direct route to the top of Snowbowl. From the top of Snowbowl, point 7500, I would then head up to 'Point Six' and finally 'Murphy Peak' by way of the connecting ridge between the two (and then a reversal of the route).
|Looking south/southwest from the top of Snowbowl|
(parking lot lower left)
From Snowbowl, I headed northeast via a ski run to the broad connecting ridge to Point Six. I opted for the most direct ridge road. A few minutes later I was standing amongst the radio towers and doppler radar that is Point Six. There I encountered a woman walking around the summit taking photos. She explained that she was with a crew that had driven up to Point Six to do some repair work on the HAM radio setup. We both made remarks about the beauty that surrounded us from our lofty perch above Missoula and the Rattlesnake Wilderness. I suggested that on the clearest day, Flathead Lake might be visible from this vista. Unsure of the veracity of this, she responded "maybe" and I concurred as I rethought the possibility of Flathead Lake actually being visible from this far south.
|Looking north to Murphy Peak from Point Six|
(Murphy Peak is the high point right of center)
|Self-portrait looking north on Murphy Peak|
I quickly made my way down the ridge point to the final little saddle that marks the beginning of the summit cone of Murphy Peak. I stashed my trekking poles about 400 feet below the top as the ridge steepened and forced some quick and easy scrambling moves. A final move through a narrow slot in the rock gave way to the final talus field of Murphy Peak. Moments later I was standing on top with joy in my heart! The clock read 9:39AM, exactly one-hour after getting to the top of Snowbowl and 1 hour and 45 minutes from my car. I was extraordinarily pleased with this time, as I was aiming for something of a lung/quad-busting speed ascent.
I took a 3-5 minute break on top of Murphy Peak to rehydrate, take some food and electrolytes and snap some photos as well. It was so dang pretty up there! The panorama included a view of the Rattlesnake Wilderness, Missoula, the northside of Snowbowl, Point Six, the southern reaches of Arlee, the southern end of the Mission Mountains and the Grant Creek complex.
Hydrated and nourished, I donned my pack and began the long retrace of the connecting ridge back to the top of Point Six and down to the SnowBowl Ski Area. I did my darndest to retrace my line down Snowbowl. About 1/3 of the way down, I saw a mountain biker athwart my direct descent, enjoying a leisurely solo cruise in the mountains. Beautiful stuff. I regained the runout on the bottom 1/3 of the mountain and cruised on down to the parking lot. I arrived at my car at 11:18AM. Gosh, still morning! what a nice surprise.
Overall, this route goes down as one of my favorite local hikes. The connecting ridge between Point Six and Murphy Peak is pretty dang fun and the views from atop those two high points are spectacular.
Onward and upward,