Tag Archives: Glacier Mountaineering Society

Give Me Them Bones, Them Dry Bones – What?

The HistorySome people are just plain odd.

In my line of work as a mental health counselor I have met my fair share of interesting and colorful characters, but I have never met anyone who demanded to keep their brother’s bones in a sack.

This is the story about the Native American name for Flinsch Peak in the Two Medicine Valley just above Dawson Pass.

173 R

Flinsch Peak from near Dawson Pass

Flinsch Peak (9,225 ft. / 2812 m.) was named for a young Austrian, Rudolf Ernst Ferdinand Flinsch, who came to the area in 1892 with Dr. Walter B. James to hunt mountain goats. They were guided in the area by William Jackson the namesake of Mount Jackson.

Flinsch was quite surprised later 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.

The proposed Native American name for this peak was No Chief Mountain.

No Chief must have been quite a character and was more superstitious than most of his contemporaries. This caused problems with some of his wives.

Here is the story as James Willard Schultz told it.

Flinsch Peak from Rising Wolf Mountain

Flinsch Peak from Rising Wolf Mountain

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 a 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. 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 No Chief truly loved him he would lead them up the valley.

No Chief could not refuse his brother’s request 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.

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.

In conclusion, if someone you know wants to sleep with his brother’s bones try to steer clear of them. No Chief’s wives came back but I know of very few wives who would tolerate this in today’s culture.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park? I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at info@climbglacier.com and I will see what I can find out.

In the meantime, make sure you check out What They Called It. This book features stories about the names along Going-to-the-Sun Road and is available on my website.

The story featured in today’s  post can be found in Volume 2 of What They Called It that is planned for released in the Fall of 2015.

Thanks for joining me on this quest for the story behind the History.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

 

First Backpackers In Glacier

The HistoryHistory has shown that people have been backpacking in Glacier National Park for centuries.

Some of that first backpacking took place at Logan Pass. I hear numerous people talking about driving to “Logan’s Pass” to see the sights or walk up to the Hidden Lake Overlook. Well folks, the correct name is Logan Pass and here is the history behind the name.

Reynolds Mountain from near Logan Pass Visitors Center in July.

Reynolds Mountain from near Logan Pass Visitors Center in July. Snow in the winter is much deeper.

Logan Pass was named for Major William R. Logan, first superintendent of Glacier National Park, from 1910 to 1912. With an annual salary of $3,600, Superintendent Logan faced a lot of dilemmas such as poaching and an enormous forest fire in 1910.

The park also had very few trails. He hired rangers and started making plans to build more trails. At that time, there were only two trails crossing the mountains, one from Lake McDonald to Saint Mary Lake and the other up the McDonald Creek Valley and over Swiftcurrent Pass to Many Glacier.

Logan is also credited with the concept of building the Trans-mountain Road which eventually became the Going-to-the-Sun Road. He would not see his idea of the road become reality; he died in 1912.

The Native American also frequented Logan Pass and they have left a rich history.

This pass has been used for centuries upon centuries before the first whiteman arrived on the scene. It was a well-traveled pass used primarily by the Kootenai Nation and Salish People and occasionally by the Blackfeet.

Schultz wrote that the Blackfeet called the trail to Logan Pass the Ancient Road. He noted that “this pass was used by West side tribes, first the Snakes and later by the Salish and the Kootenai tribes.”

IMG_4061 R

A small portion of the McDonald Creek drainage and the lower section of Logan Creek below Bird Woman Falls.

The Kootenai called this pass, Packs-Pulled-Up.

As you drive up Going-to-the-Sun Road from the Loop you see the deep valley below Bird Woman Falls. This was where the Kootenai People would travel to cross Logan Pass.

In a tradition thousands of years old, the Kootenai would use snowshoes to cross the passes to go hunting on the east side of the mountains between January and March.

The Kootenai would follow McDonald Creek (Sacred Dancing Creek) from Lake McDonald (Sacred Dancing Lake) to the mouth of Logan Creek  and then follow the creek all the way to the headwall below Logan Pass.

From there the Kootenai used rawhide straps to pull their packs and each other up the ledges on the wall. Men would also stand on each other’s shoulders and help each other as they ascended this steep section. At times only men were on this trip but at other times women and children were along to help.

Sliding down the snow slopes near Logan Pass in July 2014.

Hikers on the snow slopes near Logan Pass in July 2014.

Once on top, at present day Logan Pass, they would send their bundles sliding down slope into the St. Mary River Valley. After sending their bundles they slid down and then walked to frozen St. Mary Lake and proceed to hunt buffalo and bighorn sheep along the shores of the lake.

Backpacking has long been the way of life here in Glacier and history has just proven it.

For more on the history behind the names check out What They Called It. This book features stories about the names along Going-to-the-Sun Road and is available on my website.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park? I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at info@climbglacier.com and I will see what I can find out.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

Minor Major Makes Egregious Decision

The HistoryThe United States Army made a number of blunders in their relationships with Native Americans. One of the worst blunders near Glacier National Park was made by Major Eugene Baker of the Second Calvary Regiment of the United States Army.

Heavy Runner Mountain

Heavy Runner Mountain

Heavy Runner Mountain (8,016 ft. / 2444 m.) is named for Chief Heavy Runner who was killed in the Baker Massacre. On Sunday night, January 23, 1870, Major Baker gave orders to 55 soldiers to attack a village in the dark.

This all was the result of the murder of Malcom Clark in August of 1869 by Owl Child and a companion after they had eaten dinner with the Clark’s at their ranch. The white community was outraged and demanded justice. The immediate surrender of Owl Child was demanded; instead Owl Child fled to Mountain Chief’s camp.

After the Owl Child failed to surrender U. S. Army General Philip Sheridan sent a squadron of cavalry and ordered,

If the lives and property of the citizens of Montana can best be protected by striking Mountain Chief’s band, I want them struck. Tell Baker to strike them hard.

And so it was with these orders that Baker rode out with his troops and it was under these orders that Baker commanded them to strike hard. The troops struck the wrong camp. Mountain Chief’s was some distance from the camp the soldiers attacked.

Joe Kipp, a well-known figure in Glacier history and scout for Baker’s regiment, reportedly told Baker that this was not Mountain Chief’s encampment. He told him it was Heavy Runner’s camp but Baker gave orders to proceed.

Heavy Runner was friendly to the whites and many of the people in his encampment were sick from small pox. When the bullets started to rain down, Heavy Runner went out to meet the soldiers and was shot down. Some reported that he was carrying papers from the U. S. government as well as had a U.S. flag draped around his shoulders.

The troops then descended upon the camp and massacred nearly everyone in it.

Official records indicated there were 173 dead and 20 wounded. Nearly all of victims were women, children, or men too ill to defend themselves. This is one of the darkest deeds perpetrated on Native Americans of this region by the white man.

This is a sad bit of history. It is fitting that this beautiful mountain be named for Heavy Runner and let his legacy of peace live on in this International Peace Park.

For more stories about the places in Glacier make sure you check out What They Called It. This book features stories about the names along Going-to-the-Sun Road and is available on my website.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park? I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at info@climbglacier.com and I will see what I can find out.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

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

The Place Where God Lives

The HistoryI remember seeing Heavens Peak when I was a kid. It was a mountain that captivated my attention.

Each time Heavens Peak evoked the same response.

IMG_4047 R

Heavens Peak from Going-to-the-Sun Road

The summit of that beautiful rugged peak called me. Back then I had no experience and no one to go with.

In 2004 I realized that dream and stood on the summit of Heavens Peak and did not get to stay too long due to threatening clouds and peals of thunder in the distance.

It seems that when I am on a summit I am just a little closer to the Creator and that is certainly true of Heavens Peak. Perhaps you too get inspired and daydream about a peak or maybe there is a place that calls you and helps you get a little clarity in your life.

Heavens Peak is a mountain that almost everyone can identify. In case there is any difficulty, a large sign with an arrow near The Loop reads “Heavens Peak 8987 Ft. 2793 M.”

Volume 3: The parking-lot sized slabs of rock on Heavens Peak.

Is this the stairway to Heaven?

Jack Holterman wrote that the Blackfeet call this peak The Maker Where He Lives Mountain but then stated that he was not aware that Heavens Peak was all that sacred to the Blackfeet people.

The official name was perhaps given by a prospector named “Dutch” Louie Meyer. Other documents cite a map prepared between 1888 – 1890 by Lt. George P. Ahern that notated this peak as Heavens Peak.

Red Bird Mountain was the name provided by Schultz for the park icon named Heavens Peak (8,987 ft. / 2740 m.).

Suggestions To Consider

1) It is possible to reach the summit of Heavens Peak.  Volume 3 of the Climb Glacier National Park has the route description.

2) I think the best times to photograph Heavens Peak are early morning when it is bathed in that magic morning light. Be there before sun up and enjoy the show.

3) The Loop has a shuttle bus stop as well as pit toilets that are generally clean. Parking can be a challenge later in the day.

4) Take a short 5 minute hike along The Loop Trail and check out the little unnamed stream that is crossed by the bridge beyond the trailhead. It is a magical spot.

Join me again and learn a bit more about the stories behind the names in Glacier National Park.

In the meantime, make sure you check out What They Called It. This book features stories about the names along Going-to-the-Sun Road and is available on my website.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park? I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at info@climbglacier.com and I will see what I can find out.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

Where I Could Have Died

Sometime places we go are memorable for one reason or another.

I remember seeing Mount Rushmore with my fiancee on our trip back to college in Minnesota. I remember “almost” drowning in Avalanche Lake when I was with extended family. I remember my first close encounter with a grizzly on the Red Eagle Lake Trail. I also remember getting my first Schwinn Stingray bicycle, a yellow one with a banana seat and high handlebars, and my first fishing pole.

I certainly remember the day I could have died on Mount Vaught. It was that day that I learned a lesson about climbing in 90 degree weather. Some days it is important to know when enough is enough and that particular day we should have turned around after summiting Stanton Mountain Vaught’s neighbor to the west.

To make an ugly story short I ended up descending 6 miles and 6,000 feet with every muscle below my waist cramping … not a good time. My doctor friend told my wife that he was concerned that I might not make it out.

Stanton Mountain and Mount Vaught are reflected in a calm Lake McDonald.

Stanton Mountain and Mount Vaught are reflected in a calm Lake McDonald.

Mount Vaught is 8,850 ft. / 2698 m. feet in height. It is the dominant mountain on the northwestern end of Lake McDonald. When seen from Apgar Village, a portion of the peak is blocked by Mount Vaught’s shorter neighbor, Stanton Mountain. It can also be seen in front of Heavens Peak from the Flathead Valley.

National Park Service records indicate that the mountain is named for L. O. Vaught, a prominent Illinois attorney. Vaught spent his summers exploring the park and was influential in preserving the park by encouraging that it be set aside for future generations.

stantonvaught 111 R

The writer near the summit of Mount Vaught with Heavens Peak on the right.

The park archives contain a fascinating group of manuscripts, called the Vaught Papers, that contain loads of information about various people and events around Apgar and Lake McDonald before and just after the park was formed in 1910. Much of this work was a result of personal interviews as well as letters gathered by Vaught.

In 1895, Vaught joined other prominent men like George Bird Grinnell and William C. Pollock in negotiations with the Blackfoot Nation to secure “The Ceded Strip.” This area includes all of the lands, in present day Glacier National Park, between the Continental Divide and the border of the Blackfeet Reservation. This was done to reduce conflicts between the settlers and Native Americans.

Schultz wrote that the Kootenai called this mountain BIG OLD MAN MOUNTAIN.

Blake was feeling good at this point but soon the pain would arrive.

Blake was feeling good at this point but soon the pain would arrive and the day would become quite challenging.

You might not ever want to climb to the summit of Mount Vaught but when you see it standing on the skyline above Lake McDonald you will maybe remember some of your “firsts” memories both good and bad.

Our lives are made up of memories and the best ones are those that you can share with others. Thanks to men like L. O. Vaught some of the memories of the Apgar area are preserved for future generations.

Join me again and learn a bit more about the stories behind the names in Glacier National Park.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park? I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at info@climbglacier.com and I will see what I can find out.

Blake

Copyright 2015 Blake Passmore

 

Avalanche Lake – the story behind the name

The History

It is difficult to say how many people visit Avalanche Lake during a busy summer in Glacier National Park.  Countless pairs of shoes have trod the trail 2.3 miles from the Going-to-the-Sun Road to the magical shores of this lake nestled in a glacial cirque.

Many of the lucky ones have made more than one trip to Avalanche Lake and this writer remembers his first trip to Avalanche Lake with his family in the early 1970s.  I actually fell into the creek at the outlet only to have my uncle rescue me out of the cold water.  Since that time I have made numerous trips to the lake and enjoyed the views.

Avalanche Lake

In the past the area around Avalanche was known as Avalanche Camp.

Waterfalls flowing down from Floral Park.

Waterfalls flowing down from Floral Park.

In 1894, the Sperry party attempted to reach the glacier basin above Avalanche Lake which Schultz called Beaverhead Lake.

Avalanche Creek was called Beaverhead Creek.

Other names associated with this area include Royal Gorge for Avalanche Gorge and Glacier Lake for Avalanche Lake.

Still to others Avalanche Lake was know as Lost Lake.  Now there is a Lost Lake is near Rising Sun Point.

Avalanche Basin was called Beaverhead Basin by the Kotennai1 and Snow-slide-on-the Mountains.  That is an avalanche folks.

Avalanche

A beautiful stream that crosses the Avalanche Lake Trail.

So when did the Sperry party visit Avalanche Lake?

Sperry’s party of six, lead by Frank Geduhn, reached the lake after an arduous journey through tangled brush and deep forests.

They camped on the shore of the lake on June 3, 1895.  The area was named “Avalanche” because of the number of avalanches both seen and heard during their stay.

Sperry also wrote that in July of the same year a trail was cut from Lake McDonald to Avalanche Lake.  He expected to be in the first party to use the completed trail in August, but Mr. J. H. Edwards and his wife beat them to the lake by a few hours.  Mrs. Edwards became the first woman to see Avalanche Lake and she got a peak named for her as well.

An expenditure of $75 was provided to cut the trail by a Mr. Whitney from St. Paul, Minnesota.

A year later Sperry returned and actually reached the Sperry Glacier Basin via the Snyder Lakes Basin.

Hikers on the Avalanche Lake Trail

Hikers on the Avalanche Lake Trail

While you are at Avalanche Lake look for the peaks that early visitors called Sphinx, The Dome, The Castle, and Cathedral Spires.  All named by the Sperry party on their first visit to the lake.

Obviously, they did not make the Glacier National Park map.

Recommendations:

1) This is a must see.  Hike the 2.3 miles and suffer through the 600 feet of elevation gain and loss.

2) Travel light but not too light.  It is always amazing to me when I see folks hiking with just a water bottle.  Prudent adventures will take rain gear and a little bit to eat as well as water.

3) Bears.  Every year people see bears along this trail.  Take your bear deterrent spray and you probably will not need it.

4) People.  Expect to share the trail with folks who walk slower than you and with other who travel at a bit faster pace.  Play nice with others.

5) Camera. Take one and use it.

6) Fish. There are native Westslope Cutthroat Trout in Avalanche Lake.  Take your fishing rod or fly rod and catch a few.  Release them so others can enjoy them as well.

7) Stay away from the edge of Avalanche Gorge.  Falling in there could really ruin your vacation.

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

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Sources:
Schultz, W. R., Signposts of Adventure, Glacier National Park As the Indians Know It, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1926
Robinson, D. H., Through The Years In Glacier National Park, West Glacier, MT, Glacier Natural History Association, 1960
Elmore, Francis, Collection from Glacier National Park Archives
Vaught, L. O., manuscript, Unpublished works

 

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

 

 

Looking For The Head Of A Dragon

Headers On RouteDragon’s Tail is an unofficially named portion of the Continental Divide perched high above the southeastern shore of Hidden Lake.  This serpent’s tail-like ridge was thus named “Dragon’s Tail” by a local climber while climbing Reynolds Mountain.

Long noted by some climbers to be difficult due a convincing goat trail that leads

The Dragon's Tail

The Dragon’s Tail

directly from a shared saddle with Reynolds Mountain that ends in G.M.S. Class IV (5) cliffs after imparting just a degree of hope for an easy route to the summit.

After reaching the top of the small hump in the tail climber’s dreams are quickly shattered unexpected swing from the Dragon.  Many mountaineers have turned around and looked for another mountain to climb with a sense of failure in utter despair.

Take heart you can slay this dragon as well.  Look for the route in Volume 1 of the Climb Glacier National Park series.

Members of the group on the summit

Members of the group on the summit

On an August day I set off from Logan Pass with three companions to summit the Dragon’s Tail.  Present in the company that day were my climbing buddy, John, and his son Mike.  Mike’s friend Scott was the fourth in this party.

The photos are from the actual day of this trip.

Having climbed Dragon’s Tail before we held the keys to the correct route and soon we were standing on the summit congratulating each other as well as enjoying the better than fair weather day.

The young men decided that they vanquished the Dragon and celebrated the event as only youth can do.

Finding that alternate route

Finding that alternate route

Then someone asked … ”Where is the Dragon’s head?”

We decided to find a way off Dragon’s Tail without retracing our steps. J. Gordon Edwards wrote in his climber’s guide that it is possible to traverse from the summit of Dragon’s Tail to the pass on the north side of Floral Park and then return to the outlet at Hidden Lake where the Hidden Lake Trail can be followed back to Logan Pass. Surely we would locate the head of the Dragon somewhere along this route.

The Class VI cliffs on the west side of The Dragon's Tail

The Class VI cliffs on the west side of The Dragon’s Tail

Exploring new terrain in Glacier is not without its false starts.

A quick jaunt to the end of the southern ridge revealed serious G.M.S. Class V (6) cliffs that required more skills, equipment and rope then we had.  We eventually located four G.M.S. Class III (4) couloirs that effectively lead us to a scree ramp about 400 feet below the summit.  The climbing was not technically difficult but required some advance route finding ability.  It was challenging due to the loose scree and the steep angle of the descent.

Ascending to the head of The Dragon's Tail

Ascending to the head of The Dragon’s Tail

Edwards was right when he wrote that it could be done.

The route finding was challenging and there appeared to be little human traffic in the area. We did find one cairn high on the eastern cliffs but no other signs of human use.

After reaching the scree ramp we had to once again regain all but 100 feet of the elevation that we had lost to reach a saddle between Dragon’s Tail and an unnamed elevated point to the south.

Surprise Pass from the Continental Divide

Surprise Pass from the Continental Divide

There is a long portion of the Continental Divide between Reynolds Mountain and Gunsight Mountain that is quite unusual; it has not been named.

Traversing from Reynolds Mountain to Gunsight Mountain would be a challenge due to many intervening points and unseen cliffs.  Although the Dragon’s Tail is part of this section it is not named on any map.

Perhaps the head lies to the west of Dragon’s Tail.

An elevated knob below Dragon’s Tail was guarded by loose scree that rolled with each step we took.  Surely it was guarding the location of the Dragon’s head.  But alas after traversing across its northeastern slope all we found was more scree and cliffs that needed to be navigated through.

Avalanche Lake from Surprise Pass

Avalanche Lake from Surprise Pass

There is no head to this dragon perhaps someone who had passed this way before had already dispatched the Dragon.

With the difficult climbing behind us we were able to enjoy a brief rest the pass between Floral Park and the Hidden Lake basin that Edwards described as a “surprise”.

He described the “Floral Park Traverse” from Logan Pass to Lake McDonald Lodge via the Sperry Glacier Basin as “an interesting way to get to new places”.  This would be a lovely way to see Glacier National Park if 20 miles (32 km) and an elevation gain of 3,500 feet (1066 m) of yo-yo like trekking is an enjoyable to spend the day.

Hidden Lake from Surprise Pass

Hidden Lake from Surprise Pass

After hanging out at Surprise Pass we returned to the outlet at Hidden Lake and then hike the Hidden Lake Trail back to Logan Pass.

No dragons were harmed on this August day.

It was just four guys from Montana spending a glorious day traversing around Hidden Lake.

A total of nearly 5,200 feet of elevation change and about 10 miles were required to complete this trip.

To use a cliche’: The views were amazing and the memories are priceless.

Thanks for joining me on this adventure.

Find your own epic adventures in Glacier National Park.  Travel off trail and see Glacier National Park from a new perspective.

Blake

Source: Edwards, J. Gordon, A Climber’s Guide To Glacier National Park, used with permission from Glacier National Park Conservancy

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2013