Tag Archives: Glacier Park Montana 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.

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.

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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.


© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

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

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.

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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.


Copyright 2015 Blake Passmore


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


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

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,


© 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.


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,


© 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.


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

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014


The “W”

Dealing with the “W” is a necessary evil while fishing the Blackfeet Reservation.  Managing the “W” is key to having a great experience each spring.  Here are a few tips on how to have a better time while fishing on the Blackfeet Reservation.

Fishing the Blackfeet Reservation is high on most anglers lists.

This is most likely due to the HUGE rainbows that are caught year after year in these fertile lakes.  It is not uncommon for catch rainbows that weigh into the double digits.  That is a BIG fish.

Blackfeet Reservation Lakes 4

Mission Lake and the eastern front of Glacier National Park.

All this wonderful fishing comes with an admission tag and in the spring that means fishing in the “W.”

Mission Lake in April

Mission Lake in April

“W”,  also known as “horizontal turbulence”, can whip the Reservation waters to a foaming frenzy and has a huge influence on whether you will catch fish or get skunked.

Where does this wind come from?  Here is a Blackfeet legend about the origins of the “W.”  See What’s Up With The Wind in Glacier National Park?

Blackfeet Lakes are open all year for fishing.  Ice covers these lakes from sometime in December until April.  Imagine pulling a pig bow through a hole in the ice.  That’s a rush!

You’d better be prepared to deal with the “W” during that time as well.

Another shot of the effects of the "W" on Mission Lake

Another shot of the effects of the “W” on Mission Lake

Here are some tips for managing the “W”.

  • Layer up – use a base layer underneath some nice synthetic or wool thermal wear topped by either a Gore-Tex shell or wind blocker jacket.  Be careful about adding too many layers, you still need to be able to cast and move.
  • The water is COLD!  Wearing a heavy neoprene boot foot waders that allow for extra socks is probably the best plan to stay warm.  If you don’t have boot foot waders buy an extra-large pair of wading boots and add extra socks and base layer with long johns or fleece.  I use Simms waders from Simms Fishing that are a bit too big and throw on 2 extra layers of wool socks plus wool long johns and will add fleece pants if it is really cold. I use size 12 wading boots so all these layers fit.
  • A little less "W" in Kipp Lake

    A little less “W” in Kipp Lake

    Be careful opening doors on your pick-up.  That “W” travels with great force.  It’s a bummer of a day when you spring your door hinges.

  • Tie everything down and attach light items, such as caps, so they don’t get blown away.  For caps I prefer a stocking cap with a built-in visor.  When compared to a traditional ball cap this style seems less apt to get blown off.
  • Wear polarized eye protection not only to help see the pods of fish you are casting to and to protect your eyes from casts into the “W” that get off course.  I use Smith Optics that provide great protection and quality lenses.   
  • Get out of the “W” for a while.  This helps restore your energy and will keep you focused for that next hit.
  • Bring plenty of snacks and beverages.  Remember alcohol may not be the best way to hydrate.
  • Pack out your trash.  Be cautious while snacking outside.  The “W” likes to gobble up wrappers and trash.  Don’t contribute to the clutter.  It is also illegal to liter.
  • Remember that Blackfeet Law requires that for folks that are not tribal members to fish during a prescribed time period each day.  Fishing is restricted to the hours between 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.  Link to Blackfeet Country webpage.
  • If you have a boat you are required by law to have a life jacket AND wear it if the boat is moving.
  • It is illegal to urinate or defecate below the high water mark on any lake or stream.  In other words get away from the water to do your business.
  • Make sure you know the current creel limits AND the size limits.

What Blackfeet Reservation Lake would you love to fish?

They all are great at times.  If you can deal with the “W” they can be phenomenal.

Fish on!


© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Blake fishes with a Sage 8 weight rod, a St. Croix Reel, Simms Fishing waders and caps and sunglasses from Smith Optics.  If he would have caught anything on that day he would have used The Measure Net to land that huge fish.