An Attempt at Koch Peak, Bitterroots

Date: September 16, 2017
Trip Organizer: John Bardsley
Attendees: Kara Daume, Fintan Maguire, Jen Meyer-Vaughan, Elizabeth Moore 

This trip was first meant to be to Bare Peaks, but the Nelson Creek fire closed that trail head, so I changed it to Koch Peak. Koch Peak is the first 9000+ foot summit along the ridge starting on the north side of Lake Como and heading west/northwest. Further along that ridge are Whites East and Whites Mountain, also 9000+ footers.

And then a cold, wet storm front came through two days prior to the trip, and it turned out to be a cold, cloudy, snowy day, with snow starting almost immediately out of the car, at about 6000'. Once we got up into the talus and boulder gardens that are typical of the Bitterroot high country, there was more than a foot of snow, which made the going very slow. About 1/2 mile from the summit, at 1pm, we were staring up at a hillside of large snowy boulders to gain the summit ridge, and I opted to turn us around, as it looked like e…

Glacier Classic, Day 2: Split Mountain

Date: August 19, 2017 Trip Leader: Joshua Philips Partner/Author: Chris Dunn
If there is such a thing as a perfect climb, this was it. Joshua Philips and I woke “early” for a 6am departure. We drove to the Cut Bank Trailhead and began our approximately 21-mile round trip hike. The morning was cool and cloudy and this would hold for the rest of the day, with only spots of sun tracing patterns through the clouds on the valley below us. Triple Divide Pass Trail is remarkably without a single switchback, except perhaps at the very top. Rather, it is a long gently sloping ramp with dramatic views of the glacially carved valley below, complete with cliffs, lakes, and waterfalls. Our trip really began when we climbed over the pass at the foot of Triple Divide Mountain, and left the trail to the base of Split Mountain. From Triple Divide Pass, Split looks intimidating, but as you approach, as with many mountains in Glacier, it comes to look more manageable. From the base of the mountain, the…

Mount Assiniboine, Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park, Canadian Rockies

Date: August 31- September 4, 2017 Trip Leader: Forest Dean Participants: Fintan Maguire, Quentin Rhoades
One of the most striking peaks in all of the Canadian Rockies, Mt. Assiniboine (11,870’) sits on the border between BC and Alberta as well as the border of Banff National Park and Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park.  Very reminiscent of the Matterhorn in Europe, the peak is easily recognized from numerous directions in the southern Rockies.  A unique wilderness lodge on the northern shores of a lake that sits right below the summit has further led to Assiniboine’s familiarity.  I first became aware of this beautiful peak while watching a documentary on public television 15 years ago about the lodge.  Its been on my mind to climb ever since!
This past winter I happened to be skiing Sunshine Village by Banff on a bluebird day.  At the top of one of the lifts I gazed south, and for the first time in my life laid eyes on this peak.  Immediately hooked, I went and bought a Canadian Rocki…

Glacier Classic, Day 2: Reynolds Mountain

Date: August 19, 2017
Trip Leader: Susanna Girolamo
It was cloudy and windy as we got to Logan Pass. All around us you couldn’t see the Mountains because of the clouds. Although, we decided to go ahead and approach the mountain with hope that the weather would change and open up.  The forecast in the mountains is just so unpredictable, until you go, you really never know.
The distance to the summit of Reynolds Mountain is about five miles, half of it it’s on human trail. On the climber’s trail cairns guide you all the way up to the summit. The elevation gain from Logan Pass is about 2,500 vertical feet, with class 2 or 3 climbing when taking the Southwestern Talus Slope route, making this climb a great introduction to beginner or first timer mountaineers. Our group was a total of 5 people. For two of them, Paul and Lauren was their first time exploring the Glacier National Park and climb a mountain to the summit.  On our way up we only saw two different small parties coming down.  When a…

Granite Peak, Beartooth Range

Date: August 18-20, 2017
Trip Leader: Joshua Philips
Attendees: Finatan Maguire and Chris Dunn
On Friday, August 18th Joshua Philips (our fearless trip leader), Fintan Maguire, and Chris Dunn met up with the intent to climb Granite Peak in the Beartooth Range, Montana’s highest peak. We arrived at the trailhead in late afternoon, passed the Mystic Lake Dam, chatted with a friendly, knowledgeable ranger, and began our ascent up the long series of switchbacks leading up to Froze-to-Death Plateau. It felt like we were there in no time, despite a few breaks. The trail-less tundra on top made for pretty quick walking, despite a few shallow bogs and a bit more navigation challenge. We headed for one of the many rock wind-shelters that Joshua assured us were scattered about. After crossing a long boulder field, the dark descended on us with distant lightning flashing rather too frequently for comfort. We hunkered down for the night in a spot that did the trick. The morning light revealed t…

Glacier Classic, Day 3: The Trifecta (Piegan, Pollock, Bishops Cap)

Date: August 20, 2017
Trip Leader: The Rocky Mountaineers
Attendees: Jen Bardsley, John Bardsley, Jim Goss, Forest Dean, Monica Roscoe, and Chris Dunn
Written by John Bardsley
Jen was keen to do the Trifecta after seeing pictures from a friend who had done this outstanding ridge traverse earlier in the summer. She had also convinced her friend Monica to do it, and I was game to take them. Forest, Chris, and Jim decided to join us, filling out the group.
We left camp at St. Mary about 8:15am, groggy after two days of climbing and celebrating. We were at Lunch Creek by 9am and soon started the climb. The route up through the Lunch Creek cirque to the saddle between Piegan and Pollock is straightforward, with well-trodden and visible climbers’ trails taking away the need for much route finding. From the saddle, the walk up to Piegan is quick and mellow, and we soon summited and were back to the saddle. From there, the route to the base of the Great Cleft – which provides class 3 access to th…

Glacier Classic, Day 2: Citadel Mountain

Date: August 19, 2017
Trip Leader: Forest Dean
Participants: Bryan Kercher, John Bardsley

The three of us got started at 7:30 am from the Jackson Glacier Overlook under (surprisingly) cloudy skies.  We quickly lost 600’ on the 1.3 mile hike down to the Gunsight Pass Trail.  A mostly level hike through forest over the next 1.1 miles put us at a spot due north of the great north cirque between Citadel and Dusty Star Mountains.  Here we put sandals on and made a knee deep crossing of the gentle St. Mary River.  The bushwack then began as we started up slope.  Using some recent beta we stuck fairly close to the east side of the creek draining the cirque and found the going mostly tolerable.  A few hundred vertical feet of dense alder was the crux of it, but we were able to plow through that in less than a half hour.  Beyond that we ascended through the typical Glacier high country:  small bands of cliffs, scree and talus slopes and around krummholz outcrops.  The high hanging valley was very…