Tag Archives: climbing

Head vs. Rock

CGNP Education-smallOkay, once again, this is your head and this is a rock.

It is usually bad news when they meet.

Consider these stats:

  • In the United States, every 21 seconds someone sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and over 50,000 people die from these injuries every year while 235,000 are hospitalized.
  • The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that 21% of traumatic head injuries occur in sports and recreation.
  • Males are twice as likely as females to be injured.
  • In one study, wearing a helmet while climbing may have made a difference in 25% of the critical trauma fatalities.
  • Helmets also protect against fractures, concussions, and lacerations.

In the month of July my friend, Chris Rost, climbed to the true summit of Heavy Runner and to the summit of Pollock Mountain.

While neither of these climbs, in and of themselves, was particularly notable Chris was involved in two incidents that further stress the importance of wearing a climbing helmet. Chris is a medical provider and knows a thing or two about keeping his head protected.

Wearing a climbing helmet is a great idea anytime you are around places where there is potential for rock fall or there is a risk of falling.

Helmets are also quite handy for protecting your head if you stand up too tall while ascending a cliff or cleft.

Example #1: Wear a helmet whenever there is potential for loose rock. 

While rappelling from the true summit of Heavy Runner Mountain Chris’s helmet prevented him from getting injured. The video is courtesy of Chris Rost.

 

Chris told me that the rock was about the size of his hand and is he convinced that he would have got at a minimum a nice cut on his head if not some more serious injury.

Example #2: Wearing a helmet prevents injury to your head.

Hair on the rock

Hair on the rock

In this example a climber was ascending the Great Cleft route to reach the summit of Pollock Mountain. Chris Rost was in the area when this climber was injured and got permission to take the photos. We have intentionally not revealed the climber’s name.

Helmets protect your head if you stand up too tall.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been surprised that when I stand up I hit my head on a rock. Most of the time I have a helmet on and it is just a surprise.

Here are a few recommendations:

  • The best helmet fits well, is comfortable, and is in your price range.  Purchase one that meets these criteria.  Climbing stores, like Rocky Mountain Outfitter, can help you with this.
  • Ouch?!

    Hair donation site, ouch?!

    Make sure you watch the video.  Jandy Cox from Rocky Mountain Outfitter shares his knowledge about different types of climbing helmets as well as how to get the proper fit for your climbing helmet.

  • Carry it until you need it.  There is no need to wear a helmet until starting the challenging portion of the route.  Wear it when you need it, take it off when you don’t.
  • Hang on to it.  There is an orange  Black Diamond helmet on the slopes of Mount Cannon after it slipped out of my sweaty hands while adjusting the fit.
  • Carefully inspect your helmet if you drop it.  Be careful when you lay down your pack.
  • Falling = replacement.  If you need to replace your helmet that means your old one worked.
  • It only works if you wear it!

Thanks Chris Rost for this reminder.

No rocks were injured in the production of this video and photos.

You obviously can see the benefits of purchasing and wearing a climbing helmet.

Be safe out there and climb smart.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

Heavy Shield Mountain

The History Mount Wilbur (9,321 ft. / 2,842 m.) is the showpiece of the Many Glacier Valley.

This peak received its current name in 1885 when George Bird Grinnell named it for a business partner, E. R. Wilbur.

Mount Wilbur from the false summit of Mount Grinnell

Mount Wilbur from the false summit of Mount Grinnell

The peak was unclimbed until Norman Clyde summited it in August of 1923.  In those days it was thought to be impossible to climb to the summit of Mount Wilbur.  Clyde, an accomplished mountaineer, climbed it solo and built a huge cairn that was visible the next day from the patio at the Many Glacier Hotel.  This removed all doubt that he accomplished this incredible feat.

James W. Schultz wrote that peak was to be called Heavy Shield Mountain.

Iceberg Lake from the summit of Mount Wilbur

Iceberg Lake from the summit of Mount Wilbur

Heavy Shield was a chief of the Bloods and was also known as Many Spotted Horses because of his preference for pinto horses.  Heavy Shield was the chief of the one of the wealthiest bands on the Blood Nation, they were sometimes referred to as the Many Fat Horses Band.  Heavy Shield amassed a large herd of horses while on the warpath.  It is said that he personally owned around three hundred pintos when he signed Treaty Seven in 1877.

View to the northeast from Mount Wilbur

View to the northeast from Mount Wilbur

Heavy Shield was a man of action. In response to learning of the death of his youngest brother at the hands of the Kootenai Heavy Shield rode out of camp with two companions to “make peace” with the first Kootenai he met.

Here is how Hugh Dempsey told the story.

The Kootenai he met was White Horse, who had been scolded by his aunt for trying to ride his uncle’s horse so he went and stole one from a nearby Piegan Camp.

When White Horse saw Heavy Shield and his companions approaching he was worried but relaxed as soon as he realized the party were Bloods not Piegans. The parties met and Heavy Shield asked White Horse to smoke with them.

While preparing the pipe Heavy Shield told his companions to kill White Horse while speaking in sign with White Horse. When his companions failed to shoot, Heavy Shield stated, “I have killed nine enemy,” he sighed and said, “I guess I will make it ten” and he killed White Horse.

It was said that “the peace Heavy Shield had made was with himself, not with his enemies.”

Interestingly, Heavy Shield Mountain was a proposed name for Heavy Runner Mountain as well.  So please do not associate the name given for a peak as the exact peak that the name was originally provided for.  Names have bounced around … a lot.

Recommendations:

1) Don’t climb this one unless you have skills using ropes, harness and the proper gear to safely rappel.

2) Enjoy it from a distance.  Mount Wilbur is easy to spot from various places around Many Glacier and along the Continental Divide.

I want to thank Roger Wolfshorndl; from Kalispell,MT for asking me to write about this spectacular peak. We are planning to climb Mount Wilbur this summer.  I will let you know how it goes.

What piece of Glacier National Park real estate do you want to learn more about?

Send me a message and I will get to work.

Thanks for joining in for this small bit of fun history about Glacier National Park.  Not all of it is true, but it is interesting.

Blake

Sources:
Schultz, W. R., Signposts of Adventure, Glacier National Park As the Indians Know It, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1926
HAER No. MT-79, National Park Service Department of the Interior, Washington, DC 20013-7127
Ring, Dan, et al, James Henderson: Wicite Owapi Wicasa, The Man Who Paints The Old Men, Mendel Art Gallery, 2010
Dempsey, Hugh A., The Amazing Death of Calf Shirt and Other Blackfoot Stories: Three Hundred Years of Blackfoot History, University of Oklahoma Press, 1996

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Don’t “Flinsch” When You Read This

The HistoryThere is a real sweet peak above Dawson Pass named Flinsch Peak.

It is pretty easy to climb from the pass and the views of the neighborhood are outstanding.

Flinsch Peak (9,225 ft. / 2,812 m.) was named for a young Austrian, named Rudolf Ernst Ferdinand Flinsch, who came to the area in 1892 with Dr. Walter B. James (the namesake for Mount James) and was guided in the area by William Jackson (of Mount Jackson) to hunt mountain goats.

Flinch Peak stands on the Continental Divide

Flinch Peak stands on the Continental Divide

Flinsch was quite surprised when he looked at a new map of the area and found his name on a peak.  It used to be called Flinsch’s Peak.

James Willard Schultz proposed the name No Chief Mountain for this peak.

No Chief was said to be a great Piegan warrior who led many raid against the Crows.  In one particular raid his younger brother Little Antelope came along and No Chief went against the vision that was given to him.  In the vision No Chief saw bodies of Piegan warriors lying in the underbrush, but he did not see their faces because he awoke before he could see them.

Flinsch Peak from the Rising Wolf Mountain route.

Flinsch Peak from the Rising Wolf Mountain route.

He shared his vision with his party and most of them including Little Antelope did not want to turn back.  In fact, Little Antelope stated that if his brother loved him No Chief would lead them up the valley.

No Chief could not turn his brother’s request away and he lead the party on foot toward the enemies’ camp.  Eventually, the party was discovered by a great number of Crow warriors on horseback.

A battle ensued and Little Antelope and other Piegans were killed.  No Chief fought bravely and led his force against the Crows to ensure that they did not scalp and dishonor on the Piegan dead.  The dead were recovered and buried properly.

View along the Continental Divide.

View along the Continental Divide.

Months later No Chief went back to seek revenge.  He stole a number of prized horses and belongings as well as counted coup on his enemy.  He returned with his spoils and a bag that he refused to let anyone else handle.

He entered his lodge with the bag and told his three wives, who were sisters, that the bag contained the bones of his fallen brother Little Antelope. His wives then feared for their safety and only his oldest wife remained in the lodge.

Eventually the other wives came back as well after they decided that Little Antelope was kind in life so they had nothing to fear from his bones.

No Chief began to speak to his brother’s bones as if Little Antelope were alive.  Some believed that the bones carried on a conversation with No Chief as well.

When No Chief died he was buried with his brother’s bones.

Okay, that might be a little creepy but visiting Flinsch Peak does not have to be.

Here are some recommendations:

  1. Start early.  Be at the North Shore Trailhead in the Two Medicine Valley early in the morning.
  2. Prepare for dry.  There is little water above No Name Lake so plan accordingly.  Filter or carry its your choice.
  3. Take your camera.  There are spectacular views above treeline.
  4. See the Route … Follow the Route.  Use the red-lines in Volume 2 to safely guide you to the summit of Flinsch Peak.
  5. Consider Sinopah. Use the Sinopah tour boat to save about 3 miles of trail travel on the way back.  The last boat leaves at 5:30 pm from the dock.
  6. Make it a bigger day.  If you have the time and energy getting Rising Wolf Mountain is not out of the question.  You could also consider Mount Helen from Dawson Pass.

What piece of Glacier National Park real estate do you want to learn more about?

Send me a message and I will get to work.

Thanks for joining in for this small bit of fun history about Glacier National Park.  Not all of it is true but it is interesting.

Blake

Sources:
McClintock, Walter, The Old North Trail or Life, Legends and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians, University of Nebraska Press, 1992 (reprint of 1910 edition)
Schultz, W. R., Signposts of Adventure, Glacier National Park As the Indians Know It, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1926
 Holterman, J. Place Names of Glacier National Park, Jack Holterman, Helena, MT, Riverbend Publishing, 2006

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

 

 

Climb Glacier Education Series: Surviving in Glacier National Park

Education

Below is an excerpt from the article Surviving Glacier National Park by Scott Burry that was featured in Volumes 1 and 2 of the Climb Glacier Series.

Surviving in Glacier National Park: by Scott Burry, M.D.

Sometimes staying alive is about getting lucky.  If that’s your plan then please stay home.

Volume 5 (spring 2016 release): A climber braves the wind while climbing on a section of the Continental Divide unofficially named "The Mummy".

Volume 5 (spring 2016 release): A climber braves the wind while climbing on a section of the Continental Divide unofficially named “The Mummy”.

You don’t have to be a grizzled, leathery-faced, backwoods veteran to survive but you do have to be prepared.  If you always travel with the proper clothing and survival gear then you can go out with confidence and a sense of true freedom.  You can bag that peak and in the back of your mind, you’ll know that you’re equipped for the unexpected.

The most important part of survival is being prepared to survive.  It is not about making traps with shoestrings or getting a spark out of a camera battery (although those are cool skills to have and will score big points on the survival scale).

The key to coming back alive is expecting that someday you will be thrown into a survival situation and always being ready for that day.  

Every time you go out.

Volume 3: Climbers on the challenging route to the summit of Mount Brown.

Volume 3: Climbers on the challenging route to the summit of Mount Brown.

You’re Hurt But Not Lost

One minute you’re fine, the next you have a broken leg.  All right, do not panic.  Get your daypack off and take inventory.  Go thru every pocket, every crack, and every zipper.

Your primary objective is always going to be shelter.  That said you obviously see the importance of proper clothing.

Before the climb be a little paranoid and ask yourself “Do I have clothing packed that could get me through the night?”

Volume 3: Members of the group hike along the Ahern Peak climbers trail which leads to the summit from Ahern Pass.

Volume 3: Members of the group hike along the Ahern Peak climbers trail which leads to the summit from Ahern Pass.

You’re Lost But Not Hurt

Here are some questions that will help you decide what to do.

1) Who knows you are here?
2) When will the group be officially overdue?
3) Does anybody know where you are?
4) If you did tell someone where you were going, are you in that spot?
5) What gear do you have and how many days can you survive?
6) Is the group prepared for the current weather or what may be coming?
7) Can you reasonably expect a rescue in your situation or are you completely on your own?

Volume 1: A climber hikes to toward the summit of Piegan Mountain.

Volume 1: A climber hikes to toward the summit of Piegan Mountain.

You Simply Run Out Of Daylight Or Energy To Get Where You Need To Be

If you find yourself here, then ask yourself these questions.  “Can I for sure find my way in the dark?”  “Can I rally and make it to where I need to be if I just rest and eat a little?”  “What weather is expected tonight and am I ready for it?”

Obviously, if snow is coming in and you’re in shorts you have a problem.  This scenario is easy if you’re prepared and can even be fun.  Just get out your survival blanket and make a shelter.  Make an insulating layer out of gear, make a fire, and settle in like an old cowboy.  This is just part of the deal.

Volume 2: Two climbers are headed toward Mount Henry but first they will ascend Medicine.  Medicine is rated as a Class II peak.

Volume 2: Two climbers are headed toward Mount Henry but first they will ascend Medicine. Medicine is rated as a Class II peak.

Severe Weather Moves In Quickly And Now You’re Stuck

What should you do?  Do you pound it down the trail just trying to get out or do you hunker down and wait it out?

That depends on the gear you have with you.  With good rain gear and the energy to motor out then that’s probably the best decision.

If you’re not ready for rain and you’re looking at 10 miles soaking wet with a dropping temperature then hypothermia is a real risk.  It’s a tough decision but you may be better off forming a quick shelter and staying dry.

Take what little daylight you have left and get yourself settled into a place where you can feel safe and with as much protection from the elements as possible.

Whether you stay or go is situation dependent but if you have your quart bag survival kit, at least you have some options.

Scott’s Quart Bag Survival Kit

All of it will fit in a quart bag and can help you stay alive.

– Compass
– Multi-tool
– Emergency Space Blanket x 2 or 1 blanket and 1 trash bag
– 10-15 ft of small diameter cord/rope
– Small, hotel shampoo bottle filled with fire paste
– Vaseline rubbed cotton balls in a film canister
– Magnesium block & flint or other “spark striker” device
– Old style cigarette lighter with flint and spark wheel
– About 2-3 ft of duck tape wrapped back on itself
– Small LED light preferably with a strobe function
– Extra batteries for electronic navigation devices such as SPOT or G.P.S.
– A few safety pins of varying size
– 1 x 1 ft piece of aluminum foil
– Signal mirror
– Baggy of Ibuprofen or other stronger painkiller if available

There you have it.  Just some ideas for you to think about before heading out on your next adventure.

See you on the routes,

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2013

Logan Pass Series – Heavy Runner Mountain

Headers On RouteIn The Logan Pass Peaks Series we will take a closer look at these amazing peaks.  Logan Pass is a climbing wonderland in Glacier.

Heavy Runner Mountain is easy to find IF you know where Mount Oberlin is located.

Heavy Runner Mountain

Heavy Runner Mountain

Ready … look at Mount Oberlin and turn around.  That’s it go ahead, look behind you. The one with all the bumps along the ridge line is Heavy Runner Mountain.

This one takes a bit more work to reach but it is doable. Much approach is either trail or a goat trail.

The key to reaching this mountain is to find the Reynolds Mountain Climbers Trail.  After that it is a fun off-trail adventure to the slopes of Heavy Runner above what the Over The Hill Gang called Eden East.

Heavy Runner Mountain is named for Chief Heavy Runner who was massacred along with most of his encampment by the U.S. Army.  Apparently, he was a good guy and was a friend of the U.S. government.  In fact, he was given a flag and papers to ensure his protection and tradition states that he was shot wrapped in his flag and was carrying his papers.

Bighorn Sheep in Eden East

At one time Heavy Runner Mountain was unnamed, just like every other peak in the park.  One of the names proposed for this peak was Heavy Shield Mountain.  If you want to learn more about Glacier’s history please visit the Glacier History blog.

Heavy Runner Mountain is unique due to having two attainable summits.  

Most climbers use rope and protection to reach the True Summit.  They also rappel from the summit using the anchors that have been placed there.  If this is your plan take a rope, climbing harnesses, a helmet, and gear.  Also plan on replacing the webbing tied into the anchors.

The true summit is reached by a class V climb.  Class V means you could die if you fall (See Rating Your Adventure).  This climb is approximately 65 – 70 feet in height.  There are a number of options so choose your route carefully.  There is a rappel anchor at the top to assist climbers to safely rappel down the chimney during their descent.

View of Heavy Runner ridge line.  A walk in the park!
Most readers will not WANT to reach the true summit so there is a beautiful consolation prize that requires just a bit of Class III scrambling.  This scramble leads to the False Summit that is just a few feet lower than the real one and is MUCH safer.

The False Summit is reached by climbing on class III rock. This is where the summit cairn and register are located. There are a number of route options to the false summit.

Climb Glacier National Park Volume 1 has details for reaching the False Summit on pages 90-99.

Total distance around Reynolds and up to the Heavy Runner Summit is approximately 9 miles and total elevation gained on this route is 2,600 feet.

Recommendations For Climbing Heavy Runner Mountain:

  1. Get to Logan Pass EARLY.  This peak could be an all day adventure if you enjoy the trip and see the sights.  I like to be parked before 9 a.m. as the parking lot is usually full by noon.  You might not need all day for your chosen off-trail adventure but if you get there too late you might not be parking at Logan Pass.
  2. Stay on the trails and established routes.  This is a fragile environment and we want to save it for the next generation.
    A direct approach is generally the way Montanans deal with most obstacles in their path, however in this case the direct approach from Logan Pass Visitors Center is discouraged for a number of reasons.  The area around Logan Pass is fragile and can be highly impacted by off trail usage.  This route would also require increased changes of altitude. There is also a strong possibility of crossing paths with the numerous grizzly bears which are frequently seen from the Visitor’s Center and call this area their home.
  3. Stay away from those goats.  They look cuddly and tame, but they really are wild animals.  Give them space.  Remember you are in their home.
  4. Carry bear deterrent spray.  Grizzlies are seen every summer from Logan Pass.
  5. Do not cross the Hanging Gardens from the Hidden Lake Trail. Follow the Reynolds Climbers Trail from near “Hidden Pass.”  This climber’s trail leads all the way to the saddle between Reynolds Mountain and the Dragons Tail.  See #3.
  6. Summit Oberlin as a second peak.  If you have time you can always come back to Logan Pass and summit Mount Oberlin.  I have done it in under and hour and that included taking pictures and notes for the climbing guidebook.
  7. Carry water.  Logan Pass usually has potable water, but bring your own along just in case.

See you on the routes,

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

 

 

 

Logan Pass Peaks- Mount Oberlin

Headers On RouteLogan Pass is a climbing wonderland in Glacier.

Where else could you park in Glacier and climb 12 summits? Logan Pass is where many people cut their teeth on off-trail travel and climbing in Glacier National Park.  The routes are well established and on any given day there will be parties on the routes in case something happens.

The worst thing, if there REALLY is a worst thing, is dealing with the many hikers on the Hidden Lake or the Highline Trails.  Up here crowds are expected, just smile and wave as you go by them.

Mount Oberlin is seen across flower-filled meadows.  Please use the climbers trail to help protect the environment.

Mount Oberlin is seen across flower-filled meadows. Please use the climbers trail to help protect the environment.

There are a number of classic climbs out of Logan Pass.  Seven of the peaks could easily be on any peak baggers top ten peaks to climb in Glacier.

In The Logan Pass Peaks Series we will take a closer look at these amazing peaks.

Mount Oberlin: Probably the most climbed peak in Glacier National Park.  A great climbers trail leads most of the way to the summit, but please do not follow the trail across the great scree slope as most people do. Instead hike to the saddle between Mount Oberlin and Clements Mountain.

Mount Oberlin is a great family climb, my daughter did it for the first time when she was 6.  My father-in-law is in his 70s and he climbed it.  We have taken a group of 16 people to the summit.  Three were under 10 years old.

100_4449

It is important to start out on the correct trail so here is a photo of the start.

A climbers trail leads away from the sloped ramp on the north side of the Visitors center.

A climbers trail leads away from the sloped ramp on the north side of the Visitors center.

Once you get started correctly there is a climbers trail that leads all the way to the saddle between Mount Oberlin and Clements Mountain.  That saddle overlooks Bird Woman Valley where Bird Woman Falls forms.

From the saddle the route travels through some easy Class II or III scrambling and finally follows a climbers trail to the summit.

So there you have it.  Mount Oberlin is a great first peak.   Gain some confidence on the route to the summit and then try another one.

For more details you can look on pages 30-39 of Volume 1 of the Climb Glacier National Park series.

Twelve peaks should keep you busy for at least a summer.

If you want even more Volume 1 of Climb Glacier National Park has four additional peaks with routes that originate at Siyeh Bend.

Recommendations For Climbing Near Logan Pass:

  1. Get to Logan Pass EARLY.  I like to be there before 9 a.m. as the parking lot is usually full by noon.  You might not need all day for your chosen off-trail adventure but if you get there too late you might not be parking at Logan Pass.
  2. Stay on the trails and established routes.  This is a fragile environment and we want to save it for the next generation.
  3. Stay away from those goats.  They look cuddly and tame, but they really are wild animals.  Give them space.  Remember you are in their home.
  4. Carry bear deterrent spray.  Grizzlies are seen every summer from Logan Pass.
  5. Do not use the route lined with the yellow line.  Follow the trail ( in red) that leads to the saddle.Do not use the route lined with the yellow line. Follow the trail (in red) that leads to the saddle.  Every time I do this climb I see numerous people hiking across the scree field.  The National Park Service has closed this area across the scree field to prevent further erosion. 
  6. Summit Oberlin as a second peak.  If you have time you can always come back to Logan Pass and summit Mount Oberlin.  I have done it in under and hour and that included taking pictures and notes for the climbing guidebook.
  7. Carry water.  Logan Pass usually has potable water, but bring your own along just in case.

See you on the routes,

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

 

 

A Telescope Saves The Day

The History

On the Continental Divide above Lake of the Seven Winds and Pitamakan Lake.

McClintock Peak is on the Continental Divide above Lake of the Seven Winds and Pitamakan Lake.

When was the last time something you carried ACTUALLY saved your life?

Most of us can’t think of anything … ever.

James Willard Schultz wrote of a chief named Bull Trail that saved a hunting party with a telescope.

Bull Trail used his telescope, the first every owned by the Piegan, to deceive a far superior force of Crows.

After a buffalo kill, a party of eight lodges led by Bull Trail met a party of 100 Crow warriors.  In a meeting prior to the inevitable conflict Bull Trail used the glass in the telescope to light his pipe and put fear in the hearts of the Crows.  

The Crows withdrew to a wooded area and built fires.  They later realized they had been duped by Bull Trail and made plans to wipe out the smaller force in the morning.

Bull Trail, who was wise to the Crows intentions, sent a runner to a nearby Piegan camp and reinforcements arrived before daybreak and hid themselves.  

Oldman Lake with Flinsch Peak in the distance from the trail to Pitamakan Pass.

Oldman Lake and Flinsch Peak from the trail below Pitamakan Pass.

When the Crows attacked, the Piegan retaliated and the battle ended when every Crow was dead.  This incident help Bull Trail become an honored Piegan chief.

Bull Trail saved his party with a telescope and you thought it was just to look through!

Schultz suggested naming McClintock Peak – Bull Trail Mountain to honor this great man.

McClintock Peak is named for Walter McClintock, who wrote The Old North Trail: Life, Legends, and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians.

A great part of the experience is riding in the Sinopah.

A great part of the experience is riding in the Sinopah.

McClintock was part of a 1886 U.S. Forest Service expedition.  He was adopted by the Blackfeet Chief Mad Dog, the high priest of the Sun Dance.  He spent four years living with the Blackfeet.

Mad Dog was also called Siyeh and is the name sake of Mount Siyeh and Mad Wolf Mountain.

McClintock Peak is located above Cut Bank Pass on the Continental Divide.  McClintock Peak does not present much of an off-trail climb.  It is reached via the Dry Fork Trail after reaching Pitamakan Pass (more on that later).  I recommend hitting this peak while you are hiking the “Dawson – Pitamakan Loop.”

This marvelous sixteen give-or-take mile loop travels through gorgeous alpine terrain and completely circumnavigates Rising Wolf Mountain.

If you plan to explore the area near McClintock Peak, or if you prefer Bull Trail Mountain, here are some things to consider:

  1. Make sure you are at the trail head early.  This loop takes all day.
  2. Clockwise or counter-clockwise?  I prefer counter-clockwise and start at the North Shore Trail head near the Two Medicine Campground and hike the Dry Fork Trail to Pitamakan Pass first.  The finish is made better by #4.
  3. Consider Off-trail Options.  Volume 2 of the Climb Glacier series features peaks that start from this traverse.  Consider Mount Morgan, rated Class III (4) LM, or Mount Helen, a Class II (2) LM walk-up.  McClintock Peak is an off-trail Class II (3) LM scramble that is about 400 feet above Cut Bank Pass.  All of these are possible while doing this traverse if you are in good shape.  It is a long day for many.
  4. Take Some Jingle.  The bonus of the counter-clockwise loop is riding the Sinopah.  A one-way ticket is $6 for adults and saves about 3 miles of hiking.  Man is it worth it!  The Sinopah is part of Glacier Park Boat Company.  Make sure you check the time of departure for the last boat.
  5. Bring water or water up on the trail.  There is little water between Oldman Lake and No Name Lake.  Fill water reserves prior to reaching the spur trail to Oldman Lake or hike to the lake for a gorgeous view of Flinsch Peak and Mount Morgan.
  6. Know the routes.  If you are considering climbing Mount Morgan make sure you purchase Volume 2.  There is a crux that must be located for safe ascent.
  7. Camp Overnight.  If you want to make this an overnighter camp at Oldman Lake.  You would need a backcountry permit to stay there.
  8. Show your kids.  Teach your kids this survival skill.  After reading this post with them go out and teach them how to start a fire with a magnifying glass just like Bull Trail did all those years ago.

What piece of Glacier National Park real estate do you want to learn more about?

Send me a message and I will get to work.

Thanks for joining in for this small bit of fun history about Glacier National Park.

Not all of it is true, but it is interesting.

Blake

Source: Schultz, W. R., Signposts of Adventure, Glacier National Park As the Indians Know It, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1926

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

 

Conquering Failure

Climb Glacier LogoChanging your definition of success and failure requires courage, practice, and tenacity.

Mountains help us define what is truly important.

We don’t change the mountains, the mountains change us.

So it was with my first two summits in Glacier.

Summit #1

Pollock Mountain in an August snowstorm.  An auspicious beginning to something that I grew to love.  But at that particular moment it was not a lot of fun.  It was miserably cold, there were no views, and nowhere to totally get out of the wind.

Headers On RouteAfter a quick bite to eat we descended through the Great Cleft and upon returning to the saddle I nearly got blown off the mountain.

Read my blog about What’s Up With The Wind In Glacier National Park?

If I had based liking climbing on this day’s events I might have never gone again.  It could have been an epic fail.

Now I know that reaching the summit is just one small part of a the journey.  That is what I enjoy about Glacier … it is unpredictable.  I waited another 6 years before seeing what the view was ACTUALLY like from the summit of Pollock Mountain.

Smoke and haze

Smoke and haze

Summit #2

Clements Mountain during August fire season.  Another not the best moment for climbing but this time there were views.

This particular climb resulted in getting off-route and climbing through some dangerously loose class 4 cliffs on the north side AND getting very lucky to be on the route when we climbed up.  Life could have been seriously altered if circumstances were different.  Potential for misfortune was high.

Good things come from challenging circumstances.  During this climb the concept of the red-line on photos was discussed for the first time.

The scary class 4 climb

The scary class 4 climb

Since then, standing on summits has unleashed a latent drive inside of me that cannot be quenched.  I had never climbed in Glacier before Summit #1.  I had never felt that healthy feeling of “fear” before my experience on #2.  They motivated me to grow and continue as a peak bagger.

Here is the truth of the matter.

During college in Minnesota and 7 years of life in eastern Montana I pined away WANTING to be in the mountains and missing them so much.

But I discovered something when I came home to the mountains.  That drive is not for summits.

The quest is to enjoy each and every moment of this precious life that I have been given.

Not that I don’t want to take risks, I just want to be safe.

So don’t look for the “next big thrill,” instead strive to make each moment count with family and friends.

For me THAT is what makes me feel fulfilled and satisfied, but there is at least one thing that I want to do that’s “risky”.

What Keeps You From Beginning Something New?

The only time you fail is when you don’t start.

Perhaps you don’t think Climbing In Glacier is for you?  Read Is Climbing Glacier For You?

Consider these quotes.

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.  Benjamin Franklin

 

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.  Winston Churchill

 

What Motivates You?

Do Something You Have Never Done Before!

Imagine yourself standing on the summit of Rising Wolf Mountain.

Visualize yourself standing on the summit of Rising Wolf Mountain.

  • Set some goals.   If your goal is to climb Rising Wolf Mountain consider setting a goal to jog or walk 4 times per week for 8 week before making your attempt.
  • Make them measurable.  Use a program such as Runkeeper on your smartphone, a journal, or even a spiral notebook to keep track of your progress.
  • Reward yourself as you reach the milestones.
  • Consider finding another person or group that has similar goals and join forces to make getting there more enjoyable.
  • Visualize yourself accomplishing the goal, such as standing near the summit cairn of Rising Wolf Mountain, while you are working toward the goal.

I Want To Jump Out Of A Perfectly Good Airplane.

How About You?  What Do You Want To Do?

Post a comment and let me know what you want to do and tell me when you want to accomplish it.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

 

Is Climbing In Glacier For You?

Headers GNP GlimpsesWhen people hear the word “climbing” most think about wearing a harness while hanging on a rope that’s anchored into the rock using gear like Friends or wired stoppers and having scary exposure.  We  read stories about climbers dying every year in Yosemite or on some huge peak in the Himalayas.

That is so far from what climbing in Glacier National Park is about.

This is a fantastic ridewalk.

This is a fantastic ridewalk.

Glacier National Park has just a few peaks that require gear and hanging from ropes with huge amounts of exposure and Climb Glacier National Park is not about that!

Climbing in Glacier is all about getting to the summits of spectacular peaks using goat trails, scrambling through short cliff sections with limited exposure and walking along ridges with fantastic views.

There is a rating system that provides guidance about how dangerous the route is in Glacier National Park.  It was developed by J. Gordon Edwards and later adapted by the Glacier Mountaineering Society.

Let’s see if you can Climb Glacier National Park!

Class I: Easy

Trail hiking

Interpretation: If you can walk you could do this, not much of a chance of injury.

Class II: Moderate

Low angle scrambling

Interpretation: Climbing up scree slopes with some rocks and small non-dangerous rocky sections.  If you fall you could get scraped up, twist an ankle or maybe break a bone.

Class III: Difficult

High angle scrambling, moderate cliffs, considerable exertion. A rope might be  necessary for beginners.

Interpretation: Fall on this one and you likely will get injured and might die under the worst circumstances.  We have never used a rope of this class of climb but would if someone needed it.

Class IV: Very Difficult

Higher angle cliffs, increased exposure. Rope required for belaying.

Interpretation: You will definitely get injured if you fall.  Check every hold before placing your weight on it.  Death is a possibility.

Headers On RouteClass V: Severe*

High angle cliffs with severe exposure. Protection placed by leader. Technical climbing experience is necessary.

Interpretation: You better use a rope to avoid falling and dying.

Class VI: Extremely Severe*

Direct aid technical climbing. Overall rating in this classification reserved for only the biggest technical climbs such as the North Face of Mount Siyeh or the East Face of Mount Gould.

Interpretation: Don’t do this.  Even with great technical climbing skills this is super risky with no room for error.  Falling equals sure death.

 * Climb Glacier National Park does not feature any routes that require this level of skill.
A portion of the route to the summit of Edwards Mountain.

A portion of the route to the summit of Edwards Mountain. The climbing route travels on the climber’s left.

So there you have it.  Most of the routes found in the Climb Glacier National Park guidebook series are Class 2 or 3.  Some of them have short sections of Class 4, but you can pick the ones with lower ratings until you are comfortable dealing with a bit more exposure.  We are not talking exposure like thousands of feet, we are talking exposure as far as risk when climbing trough short sections of more challenging terrain.

The GMS System rates the climbs like this:

Class II (3) – which means most of the route is Class II and the parenthesis indicates that most difficult section is rated class III.

Recommendations:

  • Give climbing in Glacier a shot.
  • Decide what skill level you are comfortable with and able to accomplish.
  • Find a guidebook that you like, like the Climb Glacier National Park series (shameless plug!), and select the peak you want to try to climb.
  • Get out here and try it!
  • Let me know how it goes.

Remember ascending is optional but descending is not.  Be safe and wear that helmet.

See you on the routes!

Blake

Who We Aren’t – Are You One Of Us?

Climb Glacier LogoWelcome to a blog about off-trail adventures in and around Glacier National Park.  Here you will find information about the routes we have climbed and also some peaks that have caught our eyes for future climbs.  Additionally, you might find information about park history (Why? Because I like it!) and some reviews of gear or books.

Many people say this is the “beautiful part” of the world and we find it hard to disagree!

Come along with Blake and the crew of normal-everyday people who climb to summits in Glacier National Park.

Are you one of us?  You might be surprised.

Who we aren’t.

  • None of us knew where to go, all of us used a guidebook or climbed with someone who knew where they were going.
  • All of us had a first peak, none of us knew how to “climb” in Glacier.
  • Some of us are in shape, but many of us are not.
  • None of us enjoy scree, but we have learned some techniques that help make it easier.
  • Some of us have climbed numerous peaks in Glacier, most of us have not.
  • Some of us climb every week, but most of us have normal everyday lives with families, jobs and mortgages to pay.
  • Most of us are adults, but not all of us are.
  • Most of us are guys, but not all of us.
  • Some of us like exposure, but many of our routes don’t require climbing through cliffs.
  • Some of us have experience using ropes and climbing gear, but none of these routes require it.
  • Most of us are driven to reach the summits, but all of us enjoy the journey.
  • All of us have turned around or gotten off route, most times we try again.
  • None of us climb alone, all of us enjoy the comradery.

Is this you?

  • Have you hiked on a trail?
  • Have you traveled off-trail?  Or do you want to?
  • Are you planning on visiting Glacier?
  • Do you want to know the park in a different way?
  • Are you wanting to see Glacier away from the pavement?
  • Do you like being away from the crowds?
  • Are you ready for a new kind of adventure?
  • Do you want to climb a mountain in Glacier?

If you are one of us, visit again and vicariously join in our adventures!

See you on the route!

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Headers GNP Glimpses