This report is from last fall. Thor Peak is a bear of a climb. The climb started the day before by canoeing String Lake, a small portage to Leigh Lake, then on to the Leigh Lake campsite, 14a. We had a few options from our camp and we spent a while trying to decide what climb to attempt. We settled on the SE ridge route of Thor Peak, a grade 2 5.4 route. No problem.
We awoke at 4 am and began following the climbers trail up Leigh Canyon shortly after. The trail is okay for most of the way to the south buttress of Moran area as it climbs on the north side of Leigh creek.
We started up the East Face Glacier drainage of Thor Peak to the terminal moraine.
We scrambled up to the intersection of the terminal moraine and the SE Ridge and found ourselves at the base of the rock pitches. Both the climbing guide and another report we read from Dr Dirtbag’s website described what we saw. The one thing they didn’t stress was the amount of loose rock.
The rock was slabby and loose with minimal pro in spots. It felt committing, an isolated big mountain, minimal rack for rappelling, and not knowing if we were “on route”. I had that little feeling deep in my stomach.
We climbed 3 pitches of loose, slabby, broken rock (5.4) with some 4th class soloing and arrived at a notch in the SE Ridge. Moral was improving, things started to add up, we were gaining some ground.
We scrambled into a steep, loose gully that fell away to the East Face Glacier. Scary loose rock. We arrived at yet another notch that overlooked the south face of Thor Peak “Spiral Face” ski route. From here on out it looked to be a lot of scrambling on 3rd and 4th class rock to the summit.
There may have been easier routes, the guide book says 3rd class, old school I guess, but we kept on a pretty direct line on the SE Ridge to the summit. We found fun and interesting 3rd, 4th and easy 5th class climbing to the summit.
We arrived at the summit and found a register. It was a very old tin can with a few sheets of paper in a plastic bag. It was buried in snow when I was here 3 years ago with Kyle. There were only a handful of signatures in the log, maybe 15 ascents recorded. This Peak is in the shadow of Moran, Thor doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It is a “real” Teton Peak. No trails, and minimal beta. The views were amazing all around. The ridge from Thor to Moran looks intimidating yet intriguing. The Black Dike goes straight through Moran from the CMC, then continues west through the ridge.
We spent some time on the summit taking pictures and signing the register then readied ourselves for the descent. It was not “in the bag” by any means. We had more than 4000 vertical of trailess, loose, mountainous terrain to descend the “standard route” which I skied with Kyle 3 years ago in April.
Now is when you want to be skiing. It is long and tedious 4300 vertical ft descent down the west side of this huge mountain to arrive at the bottom of Leigh Canyon. Then we have 3 trailess miles back to our camp on Leigh Lake. Here we go…
The South West Couloir becomes smaller and smaller, eventually squeezing you between large rock walls with short waterfalls to negotiate. We passed a few rappel anchors along the way, but did not need them because of the low water in the drainage. It would be a scary place with more water flowing.
We arrived at the canyon bottom around dusk and started to walk through the woods. It became dark quick, and the trail became non existant. It became pretty desperate and laughable as we thrashed through a wild trailess Teton Canyon at night. We finally arrived at camp after a few hours of bushwhacking and began to drink scotch, eat dinner and drink Cakebread Cabernet.