Tag Archives: Glacier Park climbing

Climb Glacier Education Series: Preventing Sun Damage (Part II)

EducationNo matter where you climb protection of the skin is crucial. Consider the following recommendations to protect your skin.

Avoid the sun during high-intensity hours.

The sun’s rays are most damaging from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reduce the time you spend outdoors during these hours. This is not usually feasible while out climbing or mountaineering.

Cover as much of your skin with clothing as possible.

Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide-brimmed hats will offer a significant amount of protection especially if the clothing contains SPF fabric such as those made by Outdoor Research.

Apply Sunscreen Before Going Outdoors

Up to 30 minutes before going outdoors apply SPF 15 or better with a broad spectrum of protection against both UV-A and UV-B rays.

For children use SPF 30 or higher.

Use a sunblock on your lips.

Choose a product that has been specially formulated for the lips, with a sun protection factor of 20 or more. Follow the direction on the sunscreen container for additional applications.

Remember that certain medications and skin care products can increase the skin’s risk of UV damage. Consult with your prescribing physician to determine if you need to take additional special precautions against sun damage.

Protect Your Eyes

When considering protecting your eyes the concern is with UVB light. In high intensities of UVB light is hazardous to the eye and severe exposure can lead to serious eye conditions.

Choosing between glass or plastic needs to be carefully considered.

With this in mind, consider that even untreated eyeglasses offer some protection. However, most plastic lenses provide better protection than glass lenses, due to glass being transparent and plastic lenses are less transparent. Polycarbonate lens block most UV rays. No matter which lens you choose to use make sure that adequate protection is provided on the sides of the eye.

Mountaineers are exposed to higher than ordinary levels of UV radiation, both because there is less atmospheric filtering and because of reflection from snow and ice.

Protective eyewear will prove beneficial reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation, particularly short wave UV. Full coverage eye protection from the side is crucial to ensure adequate protection for the side when there is an elevated risk of exposure such as climbing at high altitude.


To prevent snowblindness always wear goggles or sunglasses. It is possible to make protective eyewear by cutting two small slits in a piece of cloth and then looking through the slits after fastening them around the head.

Snowblindness is caused by burning the cornea of the eye by UVB rays. It typically occurs at high altitudes on reflective snowfields. Headaches, gritty or burning eyes, halos around light, sensitivity to light excessive tearing and temporary loss of vision are the typical symptoms of snowblindness.

To treat this condition consider the following recommendations: cover both of the victims eyes with bandages and control pain with painkillers and a cool compress. Oftentimes within 18 hours the vision will restore without further medical help. Typically the surface of the cornea regenerates within 24 to 48 hours. If difficulties continue seek medical help as soon as possible.

Hopefully you have gained a bit of knowledge about protecting the skin and eyes from damage to sun. If you have any doubts about a patch of skin that looks different please get it checked out.

Here are the signs of Skin Cancer. Use ABCDE

A for asymmetry: When divided in half it does not look the same on both sides.

B for border: Edges that are blurry or jagged.

C for color: Changes in the color, including darkening, spread of color, loss of color, or the appearance of multiple colors such as blue, red, white, pink, purple or gray.

D for diameter: Larger than 1/4 inch in diameter.

E for elevation: Raised above the skin and has an uneven surface.

In conclusion, practice sun safe principles as you venture outdoors. Protect your skin and eyes with the measures that are appropriate for the conditions that you encounter as you are out enjoying the routes and summiting the mountains. Use common sense and prevention to ensure many more years of mountaineering.

Climb Glacier Education Series: Preventing Sun Damage

EducationAs we all know sunlight is a powerful source of energy. While sunlight is crucial for many processes on the earth such as heat and production of oxygen through photosynthesis; sunlight can also be damaging to the human body with just a little exposure. 

Sunlight is measured in what is called “solar constant” which is equal to the amount of power the sun deposits in a specific area. Without the atmosphere protecting the earth, the solar constant would be 1,370 watts per square meter. But due to the atmosphere the solar constant drops down over 20 percent to 1,000 watts per square meter. The higher in elevation the less protection we receive from the atmosphere. In comparison consider that a toaster requires about 1,000 watts to toast four slices of bread. 

Some observations about sunlight:

The main culprit for damaging skin and eyes is ultraviolet light (UV).


UV light is separated into at least three spectrums: UVA, UVB and UVC.

In addition to a sunburn, UV rays can also cause skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.

The eyes can also be permanently damaged by prolonged exposure to sunshine without protection.

UV light is also beneficial; it acts as a natural sterilizer for both instruments as well as water. 

Exposure to UVA is more constant than UVB — it is present at all times and seasons.

UVA is useful for treating certain medical conditions such as psoriasis and healthy exposure to UVB is crucial for production of vitamin D.

Conversely, too much UVA and UVB can also be detrimental and cause such conditions as skin cancer, permanent eye damage and damage the immune system.

UVC rays are the highest in energy and the most dangerous type of ultraviolet light. Little attention has been given to UVC rays in the past since they are filtered out by the atmosphere.

Natural Protection of the Skin

Skin is the human body’s largest organ; on each square inch of skin there are approximately 19 million skin cells.

Skin creates an amazing barrier that usually is impervious to moisture and creates an amazing barrier against infection, cools the body through perspiration, as well as protects vital muscles and bone structure.

Some exposure to sun is healthy for the skin as it produces melanin. Melanin gives the skin its normal color. Exposure to sunshine produces extra melanin which creates a darker pigment to the skin. It is this darker pigment, a sun tan, that helps block UV rays from damaging the skin. But the natural protection of Melanin can only go so far. Too much exposure can cause a number of serious problems.

Problems Associated with Prolonged Sun Exposure

Dry skin is a common cause of itching. Generally, the skin appears dry, flaky and slightly more wrinkled than skin on other parts of your body that have not been exposed to the sun. 

Sunburn causes pain and redness on sun-exposed skin with a clear distinction between where skin is protected and where it was not. More severe cases of sunburn produce painful blisters and may associated with nausea and dizziness. 

Think of blisters as the body trying to put the burn out from the inside out. Persons with large areas of sunburn could possibly be at risk of dehydration as well. The key here is to cool the sun burn with cool water just like a heat burn. Cooling aloe gels are also useful for providing comfort as well as replenishing moisture in the skin. 

Proper hydration is key here as well. In strenuous activity in hot conditions, such as fighting forest fires on Hot Shot crews, it is not unusual to require one quart of water per hour. Although most activities are not that demanding this can be used as a guideline.

Actinic keratosis

Actinic keratosis is the first step to developing skin cancer. Actinic keratosis appears as small bump that feel like sandpaper or a persistent patch of scaly (peeling) skin that may have a jagged or even sharp surface and that has a pink, yellow, red or brownish tint.

Seborrheic keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis is characterized by tan, brown or black growths have a wart-like or waxy, pasted-on appearance and range in size from very small to more than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) across. The precise cause isn’t known, but these lesions are seen in aging skin. Typically, seborrheic keratoses don’t become cancerous, but they can resemble skin cancer. 

Damage to the skin’s Collagen. Collagen is called the glue that holds our bodies together. It makes up about 25 percent of the amounts of proteins in the human body. Without it, the body would, quite literally, fall apart. 

Sun damages the skin’s collagen which is indicated by fine lines, deeper wrinkles, a thickened skin texture and easy bruising on sun-exposed areas, especially the back of the hands and forearms. 

I am not a doctor but I am concerned about skin cancer and understand the importance of protecting my skin.

Look for the conclusion of this article in next week’s blog titled: Prevention of Sun Damage (part 2)

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

The East-Side Oil Boom – That Wasn’t

The HistoryOne of the most fortuitous near misses in what was going to be Glacier National Park occurred under the present day Lake Sherburne.

Oil was discovered in the Swiftcurrent Valley and this started The Many Glacier Oil Boom.

Here is how it started.

In 1901, Sam Somes was working in a tunnel setting dynamite charges.  He found seepage of oil in the tunnel and took samples; he even formed the Montana Swiftcurrent Oil Company with a group of friends.

Soon a well was drilled but did not produce gas or oil. That well has the distinction of being the first oil well drilled in the state of Montana.

A few years later, Mike Cassidy  observed bubbles rising in a small feeder creek of Lake Sherburne.  He formed an oil company and drilled a hole.  In 1905 they found gas but no oil.  There was enough gas coming out of the well to heat Cassidy’s home from 1907 to 1914.

A 1923 map of oil and gas claims indicated that all of the wells were within two miles of the present day Sherburne Dam and water covers most of the sites.

Can you imagine how different the Many Glacier Valley would have been if oil had been profitable?

Pretty much all that is left now are a few names of places along the reservoir.

Most notable is Cassidy Curve.

Visitors driving to Many Glacier are sure to notice the rough road while driving into the park.  This is not because of poor road construction or a lack of maintenance.  This gravel-pocked section of road is in an area called Cassidy Curve.

This area is where the tectonic plates of the earth’s surface are colliding and the area is constantly being pushed up.  The results is a road surface that is always in disrepair, it literally can’t be fixed.

Many 1

Hopefully the Blackfoot Nation and the National Park Service will continue to work together at protecting this spectacular area for our children’s children.

Do you have a particular name in Glacier National Park that you want to know more about?  Respond with a comment or drop me a line and I will get to work on it.

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.


© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

The Name Givers – Native American Nations

“Male Native American, classic dignified face, wearing full eagle head-dress, and ornate, fringed beadwork clothing, hold ornate fringed beadwork gun case, standing at the foot of St. Mary Lake, before Going to the Sun Road is built along the lake shore, circa 1914. R. E. Marble photographer. Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives”.

“Male Native American, classic dignified face, wearing full eagle head-dress, and ornate, fringed beadwork clothing, hold ornate fringed beadwork gun case, standing at the foot of St. Mary Lake, before Going to the Sun Road is built along the lake shore, circa 1914. R. E. Marble photographer.
Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives”.

The arrival of the occupants of this area dates as early as 500 A.D. and most likely even centuries before that time.  This area was located near a thoroughfare that was used by numerous nations as they relocated looking for a place to call home.

The mountains held a sacred place for them, and surely each nation had their own names for the peaks and places in present day Glacier National Park.  The Blackfeet Nation call this incredible area “The Backbone of the World.”

Unfortunately, there is little recorded history related to the traditional names for the places in Glacier National Park.  Naming things is more of a western convention.

What we do have are the few bits of verbal history that has been passed down from generation to generation.  Even though portions of the oral history were finally recorded at the end of the 19th century, it is not impossible to know what was lost through numerous centuries.

The Blackfeet Confederation, made up of the Piikáni (Piegan Blackfeet), Káínaa (Blood) and Siksikáwa (Blackfoot), ruled the plains including the areas east of Glacier National Park.

 Blackfoot Indians sitting with James Willard Schultz in front of tepees, 1912? Carberry photographer? Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives

Blackfoot Indians sitting with James Willard Schultz in front of tepees, 1912? Carberry photographer?
Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives

Their stories were used by James Willard Schultz to suggest names for numerous peaks in the park. In 1925 Schultz sat down with two distinguished leaders of the Blackfoot Nation, named Curly Bear and Takes-Gun-First, and attempted to provide names for each peak in Glacier National Park.  They also provided names for numerous waterfalls and lakes.

They started near Marias Pass and worked their way along the Continental Divide to the Canadian Border.

The names they assigned did not necessarily have anything to do with the peak the names were assigned to so from a historical perspective the naming of the peaks could have easily started on the Canadian Border instead of near Marias Pass.

I think what is important here is not the historical accuracy of a particular name being associated with a particular place or peak, what is important here is that they recorded the stories behind the names and that is what makes the history rich and enjoyable to read.

Schultz, Curly Bear and Takes-Gun-First also visited distinguished leaders from other tribes and learned about the names they had for Glacier National Park.  Many of the names on the west side of the park are associated with Kutenai or Flathead tradition.

Chief Two Guns White Calf, circa 1933. T. J. Hileman photograph. Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives

Chief Two Guns White Calf, circa 1933. T. J. Hileman photograph.
Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives

The Kutenai (Kootenay in Canada or Kootenai in the United States), Salish and Stoney Nations were adept at hunting and surviving in the mountainous terrain in and around what is now Glacier National Park.  Surely they had names and stories about their homeland as well.

It appears that few of their original names for places in the park exist today.  Some notable exceptions to this include Stoney Indian Lake and Peaks, Sarcee Mountain and Kootenai Pass.  Other names were proposed for locations along the Middle Fork and North Fork of the Flathead River as well as along the US – Canadian border.

In conclusion:

Sadly, the original and true names of the places in Glacier National Park have all but been lost over the generations.  I think there are still a number that are historically accurate.

Greatest among the original names is Chief Mountain.  This name is generally accurate as it was called “OLD CHIEF” or “THE MOUNTAIN-OF-THE-CHIEF.”

Divide Mountain is another significant peak and the Blackfeet called it “MOUNTAIN-FROM-WHICH-THE-WATER-GOES-TO-THE-BEHIND-DIRECTION-AND-TO-THE-SOUTH-DIRECTION.”  Whew, that is a long name and Divide Mountain is much easier to say.

I would like to encourage you that when you look at a mountain or a special place in Glacier National Park, stop and think.  You likely know its English name but I challenge you to expand your knowledge and learn more about the history behind that name.  This is how you develop a great intimacy with this incredible place and identify with those who have gone before us whether they wore moccasins or boots.

I truly enjoy sitting on the summit of a peak and being able to know each and every mountain or lake in a deeper way because I know the story behind the name.

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.


© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Climb Glacier Education Series: Quad Maps On Line

EducationCan You Ever Have Too Many Maps?

Maps are an essential part of exploring Glacier National Park.

We use them for route planning before every climb. With just some simple education on how to read a map the outdoor enthusiast can gain some fantastic information.  In addition to the obvious location of peaks, streams and other geographic features it is also possible to determine the elevation as well as slope of a particular route.

I have included some practical map reading skills in Map Reading 101 Part 1 and Map Reading 101 Part 2.

There is a pretty cool on-line site called the Libre Map Project that features 7.5 Minute Series Topographic Maps.

Here is how to use Libre Maps find a geographic feature, such as Seward Mountain in Glacier National Park (or anywhere in the USA).

1) To locate the proper Quad map for Seward Mountain type Seward” into the Libre Map search engine.

Make sure you select the correct state if you are searching for data in another state.  This link is set for Montana.

2) Press “SEARCH” and a new window will open with Montana Place Names Search Results.

3) To save the map on your computer right click on the “TIFF” link.

4) Select “Save Target As” and store the file on the desktop or a selected folder.

5) Once the image is downloaded open it with a photo viewing program such as Windows Photo Gallery.

The results will come up and identify “Many Glacier” as the quad that Seward Mountain is found on. Download it and view it.

This is another fun way to explore Glacier National Park.

Please enjoy.


© 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.


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.


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

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2013


No “Little” Matter

The HistoryOn a the ridge between Avalanche Lake and the Snyder Lake Basin there is a unique little mountain named the Little Matterhorn.

There is no doubt that it was named for the striking spire of European fame called the Matterhorn.

Little Matterhorn stands 7,886 ft. above sea level.  That’s  2,404 m. above sea level for folks that think in metric.

The Little Matterhorn

The Little Matterhorn

It is interesting to note that the Little Matterhorn has also been called Comeau’s Horn. 

Denis Comeau was a local resident who guided groups in Glacier National Park.  he guided the Cannon’s to the west summit of Mount Cannon.  He was a guide for the Sperry Party that “discovered” the glacier in the 1890s.

The first Superintendent of the Glacier National Park, William Logan suggested the name Mount Kalispell.  That might have been a great name but would not be as appropriate as the Little Matterhorn.

Getting to the Little Matterhorn may be as difficult as climbing it.  It is about 11 miles from the Sperry Trailhead near Lake McDonald Lodge and requires 5,400 feet in elevation gain to Comeau Pass.  That’s 1,646 meters for you metric folks.  You still have to descend and then climb the peak.

I am pretty sure you will want to visit this peak even though you may not want to summit it.  

Hike Line of Sight

Hike Line of Sight

I did not include this peak in Volume 3 of the Climb Glacier series due to its notorious reputation of being a finicky peak with loose rock and great potential for death if a climber should fall.

If you make it to Comeau Pass, one of the park’s most beautiful hikes, please consider visiting the Little Matterhorn.

Here are some recommendations: 

  1. Hike “line of sight” towards the peak, picking your way along glacial rock, snow fields and run off streams flowing through carpets of lawn-like grass. The hike is about a mile in distance and a loss of about 600 feet of elevation from Comeau Pass.
  2. Bring your camera.  During summer, this area is like a landscaped garden with natural waterfalls and is very enjoyable.
  3. There is plenty of water.  To filter or not is the question.  I would filter here.  There are a LOT of goats doing their business everywhere.
  4. Don’t linger too long.  Remember you still need to hike 11 miles back to the trailhead.
  5. Stay at Sperry Chalet or the campground.  Make an overnight trip or even a three day trip and really soak up the ambiance of this area.  Sperry Chalet reservations.
  6. If you spend the night consider watching the sunset from the summit of Lincoln Peak.  Find information about that summit in Volume 3.
  7. Consider climbing Edwards Mountain or Gunsight Mountain while you are at Comeau Pass.  These climbs are in Volume 3.

In my opinion hiking to Comeau Pass is one of those hikes that you MUST  add to your bucket list.  It is amazing.

Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe to the Glacier’s History blog posts!  We send a blog about the history of Glacier National Park every Monday and on Thursday we send out a blog about peaks, routes, etc.

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.



Big foot Sighting In Glacier National Park

The HistoryYep, you read it here first.

The Blood band of the Blackfeet Nation killed a big foot in Glacier National Park before white man arrived.

In fact, the Glacier History feature today is all about the place that they called “BIG-FEET WAS KILLED.”

Mule Deer in the Hanging Gardens.

James Willard Schultz wrote, “in the long-ago, several hunters of the Blood tribe discovered and killed a large big-feet (caribou) bull at this place.  These animals were so rarely found so far south, on the east side of the range, that the place was named after the occurrence.”

Now that place is called the Hanging Gardens.

The “Hanging Gardens are to the beautiful flower-filled terraces between Logan Pass and Heavy Runner Mountain.

If you have been to Logan Pass and walked along the boardwalk toward Hidden Lake you no doubt could imagine seeing caribou in the meadows.

Recommendations for visiting Where Big-Foot Was Shot.

  1. Stay on the trails.  This is a fragile area and the trails allow you to see it in all of its beauty.
  2. Look Closely.  There are a lot of different kinds of flowers in the Hanging Gardens.  You might even notice less mature versions of the same flowers as you gain elevation.
  3. Take lots of photos.  I have been to Logan Pass numerous times and every time it is different.
  4. Keep your eyes open for Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats.  These ungulates are always around.  Goats are easy to spot and the sheep usually hang out near the “Hidden Pass” or near the Hidden Lake Overlook.
  5. Take some time and climb a mountain.  Mount Oberlin and Reynolds Mountain are great options for climbing.

For more information about climbing and off-trail travel near Logan Pass see Volume 1 of Climb Glacier National Park.

Do you have a favorite area of Glacier National Park that you want to know more about?  Drop me a line in Contact Us and I will get to work on it.

Thanks for reading about this spectacular area of Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park history is fascinating.

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


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

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2013

Climb Glacier Education Series: Surviving in Glacier National Park


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,


© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2013