Black Mountain – another spectacular first summit


Last Saturday morning came early. I’d been out late the night before at the Livingston Art Walk…which would have been ok in itself except my obnoxious old unwelcome prickly bedmate Insomnia has been a rather constant companion this summer. I lay there in the wee morning hours thinking I should simply give up on sleep and get out for a super early alpine start…wouldn’t it be spectacular to be on the summit for sunrise?!! Each time I got out of bed, I felt sick-to-my-stomach-tired, turned around and crawled back into bed. But sleep eluded me. Insomnia scooted the minute my alarm clock went off. Here’s how it goes: toss, turn, toss, turn, ALARM…sleep. I swear the alarm clock is to Insomnia what garlic is to vampires…the instant the alarm sounds, insomnia flees and I’m free to sleep…except I CAN’T because I HAVE to get up. Do you think I should set my alarm for an hour or so after I go to bed and TRICK Insomnia into vanishing?
I had to drag myself from beneath comfy covers and bumble about the process of packing and eating while groggy from only 2 hours of sleep. Thankfully the peak I planned to climb was not technical or extreme (although I have climbed technical AND extreme peaks on far less sleep).
Black Mountain is a 10,941 foot peak above Pine Creek Lake. Thomas Turiano, writes in his book, Select Peaks of the Greater Yellowstone, that Black Mountain is the “most spectacular mountain in the Western Beartooths north of Mount Cowen. He goes on to say, “Most first-time visitors to Pine Creek Lake are stunned by its sheer size, which is completely unexpected in such steep mountains.” The trailhead to Pine Creek Lake is only about 20 minutes from my house and is a popular winter destination for me since there are some fun frozen falls to climb just a mile up the trail. I’ve been to the lake several times but I have never climbed "spectacular" Black Mountain.
While the hike is not extreme, one does gain a mile of elevation during the 7 miles it takes to get to the summit. The final two miles are a trail-less scramble up talus slopes to a rocky ridge leading to the summit. Fun Fun. The scenery between the topaz blue lake and the summit of Black Mountain is beyond amazing since it includes giant blue quartz-like crystal rocks. Very blue…gemstone blue…baby blue. Other giant rocks are a pastel variety of pinks and whites along with charcoal black rocks with hints of purple. Feels like you’ve wandered onto a beautiful Chinese ink-brush painting complete with waterfalls, springs, and bright green grassy slopes perfectly placed between stone and sky.
Many mountain ranges and peaks can be seen from the summit of Black Mountain. I shot some video on the summit and have begun to learn the ins and outs of editing (phew!) Soon I will share a whole new series of short candid videos from my life exploring inside and outside the studio. Stay tuned!
top photo - Zaydee and I below the summit of Black Mountain
bottom photo - View of Mt Cowen (on left) and Fire Spire (pointy thing on right) from the summit of Black Mountain...and YES!! I have been on both!!