Madison County High Point Trip Report

Koch Peak

Date: September 1, 2001
Author: Bob Packard

Koch is as mild as Hilgard is rough. Taylor Cr Tr (#17) W to junction with Tumbledown Creek Trail (#4) which I took to Koch (rhimes with scotch) Basin from which it is trivial to see how to get up to summit. Saw cow and calf moose early on. Taylor BM at summit.

No cairn or register. Left my card in film canister. Could see Hilgard 8-9 miles to the south. Hand level was useless, of course.

Trip Statistics: 8.5 hours, 13 miles, 4200 feet gain.

I'll make a few comments about the Hilgard-Koch problem. For Koch the USGS has 11,293 ft as does the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Map. Point 11,286 is the figure on the Gallatin National Forest visitor map, Rand McNally road map, DeLorme and Topozone. Now, the 11,280 ft contour on Koch is very tiny and the top of Koch is very flat. I don't see how elevation and contour can be made consistent with an elevation any higher than 11,286. Believe me, it is FLAAAT up there. Either the 11,293 ft value is wrong or the contour needs to be MUCH larger.

As to Hilgard, Gallatin National Forest visitor map has 11,316 ft as does DeLorme and Topozone has 11,297 ft as several of you have pointed out. The 11,280 ft contour on Hilgard is larger than on Koch and the summit is as peaked as you could want. I would think that Hilgard would have to be very close to 11,300 ft. The evidence points to Hilgard very strongly, but not conclusively.

Everyone I have talked to in the West Yellowstone area (several: rangers, climbers, guides) when asked which is higher immediately says, "Hilgard, of course". But when you ask them for conclusive proof, they first act a little taken back, then admit they don't have it. Hey, I'll bet plenty on Hilgard. I'd like to know where these elevations come from that are NOT on the USGS maps.