Tag Archives: Routes

Head vs. Rock

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

It is usually bad news when they meet.

Consider these stats:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Hair on the rock

Hair on the rock

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

Helmets protect your head if you stand up too tall.

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

Here are a few recommendations:

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

    Hair donation site, ouch?!

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

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

Thanks Chris Rost for this reminder.

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

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

Be safe out there and climb smart.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

Heavy Shield Mountain

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

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

Mount Wilbur from the false summit of Mount Grinnell

Mount Wilbur from the false summit of Mount Grinnell

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

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

Iceberg Lake from the summit of Mount Wilbur

Iceberg Lake from the summit of Mount Wilbur

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

View to the northeast from Mount Wilbur

View to the northeast from Mount Wilbur

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

Here is how Hugh Dempsey told the story.

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

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

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

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

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

Recommendations:

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

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

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

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

Send me a message and I will get to work.

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

Blake

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

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Logan Pass Series – Heavy Runner Mountain

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

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

Heavy Runner Mountain

Heavy Runner Mountain

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

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

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

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

Bighorn Sheep in Eden East

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommendations For Climbing Heavy Runner Mountain:

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

See you on the routes,

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

 

 

 

Logan Pass Peaks- Mount Oberlin

Headers On RouteLogan Pass is a climbing wonderland in Glacier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

100_4449

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommendations For Climbing Near Logan Pass:

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

See you on the routes,

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014