14th Annual Glacier Classic - August 17-19, 2018

Bryan Kercher Photo.
The 14th Annual Classic saw the second best attendance ever with 32 folks participating.  What a great weekend it was!  The sky was somewhat smoky most of the time, and once again we couldn’t have a campfire, but it didn’t seem to matter.  We had some great climbs and hikes and enjoyed some great food, drink and camaraderie in camp.  A bunch of members participated for the first time and there were a bunch of “veterans” as well.  Johnson’s Campground again proved to be a great venue for this event as it allowed us to essentially take over 6 sites and have our own private nook.  Good times!

Nine of us arrived up there on Thursday and took part in the two trips on Friday.  Nearly everyone else arrived sometime on Friday afternoon or evening.  We had four great trips on Saturday and another three on Sunday.  The majority of participants had had enough exertion (and perhaps, smoke) on Saturday and chose to just head home on Sunday. 

Great thanks to Tom Hanou for once again (after a two year absence) returning and preparing his incredible burrito dinner on Saturday night!  And, of course, Robert Rivers (co-owner/founder of Imagine Nation Brewing Company) for donating a keg of Summer Ale!

Thank you to everyone who attended.  Looking forward to another grand event next year!

Attendees: (asterisk denotes first timer)


Simone Maguire
Mary Ellen Maguire
Fintan Maguire
Alden Wright
Edna Blanchfield
Sharon Berube
Paul Jensen
Bryan Kercher
John Bardsley
Susanna Phillips
Joshua Phillips
Dean Stensland
*Brent Maier
*Abby Maier
*Ron Oman
Paul Okerberg
Doug Thorsen
*Jake Oman
Eric Jones
Minot Maser
*Reenie Hall
*Laurel Vielle
Vick Applegate
Tom Hanou
*Tom Herwerden
*Charlotte
*Jennifer Franklin
*Nick Pritchard
Pat Caffrey
Lou Herritt
*Elizabeth Moore
Forest Dean

Trip reports with pictures following. Unless otherwise stated, the photos and words are by the same person.

Going-to-the-Sun Mountain/Matahpi Peak
August 17, 2018
Trip Leader: John Bardsley
Participants: Forest Dean, Elizabeth Moore, Bryan Kercher, Paul Jensen, Fintan Maguire

Just as was the case last year, the original plan for this year’s Friday climb was Mount Brown, and once again a fire forced us to find another peak. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of peaks in Glacier! I chose Going-to-the-Sun (GTTS) Mountain, since the east side of GTTS road was open. A bunch of us spent Thursday night at Johnson’s in St. Mary and got going the next day at 7am. We were hiking from the trail at Siyeh Bend before 8am. About 1.5 miles from the car, a climbers trail heads up to the saddle between Matahpi and GTTS. From the saddle we traverse along the west face of GTTS, finding a goat path which made travel pretty easy. Once we reached the prominent north facing gully, we began our climb through the crux. This is known as the West Face Route and is discussed in various places online. The group had no problem with the crux, and we were up on the summit (after a slog through scree) before noon. We returned to the saddle via the same route, and then Forest, Elizabeth and I tagged Matahpi as well. The others waited at the saddle until we summited, and we all met back at the cars. It was a fun day with a great group, all of whom were excited for another Glacier Classic.   John Bardsley (words), Bryan Kercher (photos) 






Reynolds Mountain
August 17, 2018
Leader:  Susanna Girolamo Phillips
Participants: Eric Jones, Joshua Phillips

For our first day at the Glacier Classic most of the participants that sign up for the regular southwestern talus slope route (class 2-3) canceled for personal circumstances. So the three of us decided to climb the North East Couloir route Traverse, class 4, the diagonal ledge visible from Logan pass.  Joshua lead this one as it was only my second time and Eric's first time on this route. The smoke wasn't so bad but enough to worry everybody else to climb this beautiful mountain. On our way up and down we did not encounter anyone on the mountain. What a treat to have this little Matterhorn shaped mountain to our selves.  Susanna Girolamo Phillips 






Upper Grinnell Lake and Glacier
Date:  August 18, 2018
Leader:  Tom Hanou
Participants:  Vick Applegate, Edna Blanchfield, Sharon Berube, Alden Wright
The five of us hiked up to Upper Grinnell Lake and Glacier. We got an early start and we saw 3 moose, 6 bighorn rams, 2 that were sparring and clashing horns, many mountain goats and mule deer. There was still some good reflections in the lake when we got there and we saw excellent examples of Stromatalite (see photo) which is the oldest known fossil and is of a cyanobacteria. We stayed there for about an hour and half and the place was getting crowded, so we left, meeting probably a couple hundred more people coming up the trail. A good day was had by all.  Tom Hanou




“Skyline Experience”
Date: August 18, 2018
Trip Leader: Forest Dean
Participants: Dean Stensland, Brent Maier, Elizabeth Moore, Abby Maier, Ron Oman, Jake Oman, Minot Maser

This large, but very able, group started hiking from the Many Glacier parking lot at 6:15am on a very smoky morning.  We made good time as we followed the Cracker Lake Trail for about 4 miles to a bridged crossing of the creek.  Here we headed up off trail up a mostly dry stream and had a lot of fun making rock moves up this “golden stairway”.  Soon we left the brushy environs behind and headed up open meadows and talus slopes to gain the SW Ridge of Mt. Wynn.  A long and tiring but easy slog up this ridge got us to the 8404’ summit at about 9:30am (a gain of about 3500’ from the start).  After a brief rest and some pics we headed south along the wide open ridges that lead for 5.5 miles to the summit of Mt. Siyeh.  The views on this ridge are incredible- only marred on this particular day by periods of haze and smoke.  A couple of us ran portions of this, while the others hiked.  After a couple miles though we were all back together again as we approached points 8696 and 9190 which required some easy, fun class 3 scrambling.  After taking another brief break on point 9190 we headed for Cracker Peak (9833’).  The views of the sheer 4000’ north face wall of Mt. Siyeh as we approached Cracker were jawdropping- as was the view down into the basin and Cracker Lake.  We tried to keep moving but everyone needed many breaks to observe these amazing views.  From the summit of Cracker we dropped about 300’ and then gained the east ridge of 10,014’ Mt. Siyeh (passing a couple of goats along the way).  At about 1:45pm we all stood together on the summit.  Several of us posed on the precipice for pics while staring down at nothing for a few thousand feet under our feet.  Dean and I had been here before, but for everyone else we congratulated them on their first Glacier 10,000 footer!  At 2:15pm we departed the summit with the decision to split the group in half.  Minot, Dean, Brent and Abby decided to do a point-to-point by descending the standard south face route and hiking out to Siyeh Bend (and then catching a shuttle back to St. Mary).  Ron, Jake, Elizabeth and myself stuck to the original plan of making a loop back to Many Glacier.  We descended 2000+’ of crappy scree and talus on Siyeh’s west face (scaring off a large grizzly bear in the process) down into sublime meadows and then gaining the Piegan Pass Trail (north of Piegan Pass and Cataract Mountain).  Once back to the trail we still had about 7 miles of trail to cover so we ran until Jake called uncle (he had been working in the flatlands of Omaha all summer so he had a more-than-valid excuse!).  We arrived back at the trailhead at about 6:00pm, tired and happy.  According to Strava, we covered about 20 miles over 11:45 with 7,200’ of elevation gain.  The point to point group arrived back at the campground about 20 minutes prior to us (their distance was likely about 16 miles).  What a group!  I have never led so large of a group in which everyone was so equally matched.  It was an extremely rewarding and fun day.  Forest Dean





Yellow Mountain
Date: August 18, 2018
Trip Leader: Laurel Vielle
Participants: Jennifer Franklin, Susanna Phillips, Renie Hall, Paul Jensen, Eric Jones, Bryan Kercher, Paul Okerberg, Nick Pritchard, Doug Thorsen

As part of The Rocky Mountaineers 14th Glacier Classic, I coordinated Yellow Mountain on Saturday, August 18.  Ten intrepid souls followed me up and down the wearisome trail to near Poia Lake.  Before we reached the lake we made our way over to some falls due east of the lake and just to the right of the falls was our route up.  We had a little inservice about climbing on rotten Glacier rock and the dangers of rockfall (a few participants had never climbed in Glacier before), donned our helmets and made our way up the solid class III route.  Everyone did a stellar job getting up past the rotten rock, with a minimum of rockfall and no close calls whatsoever.  We then assessed our route, as I had never climbed Yellow before, and decided to keep to the ridgeline for a bit.  At a low point on the ridge we decided not to follow the ridge back up but rather traverse across to see where it led us, finally ending up in a dry stream bed deep between two ridges.  We refilled on water and headed straight up the ridge to the west, a long and arduous slog.  After we crested the ridge and saw the full extent of the climb and the humongousness of the mountain, and assessed the time and mileage that had already passed, we decided to split into two parties of 5, one party going on and the other taking the ridge around and back down to the trail.  Both parties were successful and made it safely back to camp.  Thanks to all participants for making it an excellent and exciting day, for great attitudes, a can-do spirit and most of all for excellent teamwork.  For those who made the full loop of Yellow mountain summits, the stats are, give or take, 22.3 miles with 7800 ft of elevation and 13.5 hours of hiking and climbing.  Laurel Vielle  (words), Bryan Kercher (photos)






Mount Wilbur
August 18, 2018
Trip Leader: Joshua Phillips
Attendees: John Bardsley, Fintan Maguire, Lou Herritt

I didn’t know quite what I was getting myself into with this climb, but I was up for the challenge, as were Fintan and Lou, under the excellent leadership of Joshua. We did the standard, Thin Man’s Pleasure, route. What distinguishes this peak from others I’ve done is the relentlessness of the class 4 climbing: several hours and more than a thousand feet without a letup, and on loose terrain no less. There’s not much margin for error, but we took our time, kept our heads, and all was good. It was a great day with a great group of people, each of whom was prepared for the difficulties that the day held. I feel privileged to have had such a day with such a group! John Bardsley (words), Joshua Phillips (photos)  





Divide Mountain
Date: August 19, 2018
Trip Leader: Forest Dean
Participants: Elizabeth Moore, Renie Hall, Minot Maser

After a long day on Saturday, we were all a little sluggish and slow to decide what to do on Sunday.  The four of us opted for an easy and short climb up 8,665’ Divide Mountain before making the drive back to Missoula.  The route starts outside the Park on Blackfeet land by driving up a bad gravel road for a few miles.  We parked to the immediate east of the peak and then began heading up (no trail) to a break in the cliffs on the far north ridge of Divide.  There is an old lookout that is still mostly intact at the far end of this ridge- we gained the ridge a couple hundred feet above and to the south of this structure.  Once on the ridge, user trails lead up and to the summit with no difficulty above class 2.  Total distance to summit from car was only about a mile and we gained about 1,700’.  After lounging and relaxing at the top for 15-20 minutes we began the descent which was without problems.  Total round trip time at this moderate pace was about 2.5 hours.  A good way to wrap up a great weekend!  Forest Dean



Piegan Pass from Lunch Creek to Siyeh Bend Trailhead.  
Date:  August 19, 2018
Trip leader: Susanna Girolamo Phillips
Participants: Jennifer Franklin, Mary Ellen Maguire

On Sunday three of us adventured out for one more hike before returning home. Because of time restrictions we opt out to only hike up Piegan Pass. We left a car at Siyeh Bend Trailhead and got shuttled to Lunch Creek Trailhead.  On our way up we didn't encounter any one until we climbed above the bigger cliffs. As none of us had done this climb the route finding below the pass became time wasting.  We missed the cairns that mark the way up to the pass. Eventually we found the way. It was a nice team effort. On the pass we took our lunch break before descending down to the Piegan trail head and out to Siyeh Bend Trailhead.  Susanna Girolamo Phillips 







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