My son Eric and I scheduled a climb of Granite Peak beginning on August 25. We chose Beartooth Mountain Guides because it was a local company. Our guide was Anju, a partial owner of the company. We also hired a porter, Lejan, to carry some of the weight. I do not believe we could have had a successful climb without help from Lejan. Anju exuded confidence and competence from the start.
Our first day was strenuous with an 8-mile trek and 4300 vertical feet. We camped at Oasis Camp. The next day was easy with 1100-foot gain and 4 additional miles to the upper camp. It was planned that way so we could rest up for the summit push the third day. We began our summit climb at 4:00 am to beat the weather which appeared every afternoon we were on the mountain. Anju knew the route cold even in the dark. The summit block is very steep, and we were not comfortable on some of the pitches without a rope. Anju led every pitch with great ability, and we were very confident that she could belay us safely. She put our safety first and placed us in secure positions while we waited our turn to follow her lead. She obviously knew the route up the summit block, and we reached the summit at about 9:00 am.
The wind was blowing hard, so we did not take much time on the top. On the descent, Anju belayed us from the top as we descended. Again, we felt confident in her ability to protect our descent. The descent to the high camp took 5 hours so the total time was 10 hours. The wind was blowing very hard during the descent and, as we approached camp, we could not see our tents. As it turned out, every tent on the mountain had been blow down and many were destroyed. Anju’s husband Aki, another owner of the company, had climbed up to join us the second day. While we were summiting, he had protected our tents and packed our gear so we could descend to the Oasis Camp lower on the mountain. We rested for a half hour and then began descending to beat the storm that was approaching.
As we reached Oasis Camp the wind became intense, and the rain soaked us. Aki had already set up our tent and we crawled into it. He and Anju then set up their tent while getting soaked. They saw to our comfort before their own and I cannot express my gratitude for their work here. The wind howled for hours, and the rain continued. It was a tough night to get much sleep, but the morning came, and the weather was much better. Do not be fooled that the walk to the cars is easy. After three days of climbing above 11,000 feet, the gas tank is not full. It took us about 4 hours to descend to the parking lot.
I recommend this company if you are considering a climb of Granite Peak. Unless you are an expert climber, it is my opinion you would be crazy to try to negotiate this climb without a guide. There is cost involved but what is your life worth? These expert guides will get you to the summit safely. I want to express our gratitude to Anju, Aki and Lejan for making this an experience we will never forget.
by Craig and Eric Gardiner.