Cloud Peak Climbing Notes

  • July 08, 2020
    Jon from United States

    We camped at the South end of Lake Helen and started around 8AM for the summit. Figured it was about 7 miles to the top. The Paint Rock flowage is beautiful, and after crossing it we began our assent. About a mile from there we hit the boulder fields. How these huge chunks of granite ever came to be here is a fantastic mystery. Occasionally they would shift slightly as we stepped on them, which is unnerving, so be ready for that. The more elevation we gained, the more we encountered snow fields. Being in late June, the high sun and warm air temp had softened them to the point of making them harrowing to cross without breaking through. We could hear rushing water flowing under some of them, and that is also unnerving. The cairns are sometimes hard to see, but the peak is in view for most of the climb, and all you are really doing is climbing up. The altitude took its toll on us and we had to turn back about a half mile from the top. From Lake Helen it took us about 10 hours to get to where we turned around. I would guess it would take about 12 hours if we made it to the top. Next time we will camp closer to the flowage, like maybe around Misty Moon lake.

  • September 17, 2018
    KRL from United States

    We summited 9/15/18 as part of a 3 day trip out of West Ten Sleep Trailhead. It was my first trip following Mountain-forecast.com (2nd time up CP) and the forecast was spot on, even a week out. Perfect weather, no snow, bugling elk, and excellent conditions. From the trailhead to summit and back is 24 miles, with good water available the entire route. We camped on paint rock creek at base of Cloud Peak (about 10,000 ft.) and took the popular route that follows the Paint Rock Creek drainage, and then stay left (north) when the creek forks about .75 miles mile up. 6.5 miles up and down, with 3,000 feet of elev. gained. the trail mostly disappears into boulder field after the first 1/2 mile. There are rock cairns, but as you climb higher you will see multiple parallel routes with cairns. Water was still easily available up to about 11,800 ft (top of the main bowl). 2 in our party were up and down in 7 hours. My team (I'm 53) was 9.5 hours. Bring a flashlight -- its not hard to end up "off piste" in the boulder fields and run out of daylight. I used trekking poles which are a knee saver on the descent. I also used the GAIA app this time and was impressed. And clean moving streams let me stick with just steri-pen and aqua mira drops for treatment, and never used the filter.