Tuesday, July 20, 2004

A week in Glacier Park

The GMS group reaches top of Mount Cannon ridge line
Monday, July 19:
This is a special week in Glacier National Park when Glacier Mountaineering Society climbers gather for peak bagging ( mountain climbing) and fellowship.
I got a bit of a head start Saturday by setting up camp at Rising Sun campground near St. Mary and climbing a couple of peaks I’ve looked at for years --- Otakomi and East Flattop.
There’s nothing particularly complicated about climbing them. You get Oktakomi at 7,930 feet by proceeding up the Rose Creek trail and peeling off for a 3,200 foot slog up scree and talus as soon as you clear out of the forest --- about a half-hour out of camp.
The top is rounded off and affords views in all directions with St. Mary’s Lake shimmering several thousand feet below. From here you can see all but one of the park’s 10,000-foot peaks, Kintla. There are numerous small alpine lakes below, but Goat Lake dominates.
It’s a 450-foot drop to a saddle and a 45-minute slog to East Flattop --- aptly named because the peak itself is rounded off and unremarkable. There’s some nice traversing around some cliffs at the top, which is marked by a ring.  Blackfoot Glacier and Walton peak are particularly beautiful from this spot.
To make the climb more interesting I decided to make it a traverse and plunged off the west side of Flattop into the head of Two Dog Creek and through a forest heavy with downfall back to camp, a Gypsy Burrito at the Park Café, a chance meeting with colleagues Dan Hollow and Karen Ogden, and back in time to take a shower and hit the tent.
I need to mention how much I enjoyed the Bluegrass on the Bay in Great Falls on Friday night preceding my trip.  The entertainment got progressively better and the warm summer night on the Missouri River made it magical.  A friend said she wished Great Falls could have gatherings like this all the time.  I agree.  The only thing I would have liked to see more of was food concessions.  There is some concern that the $15 per head might have priced the event out of the reach of some of the younger residents.  Maybe by putting a surtax on the concessions and dropping the price of admission we could achieve a better draw and a good take.  That’s the idea of my girlfriend, Katie Myers.
Sunday it’s off to Lubec trailhead near Marias Pass where I met my climbing buddy Rob Cure of Massachusetts and we climbed  Calf Robe, and via Firebrand Pass and we traversed out by way of Lena Lake.
The rest of the week will include attempts at Mount Cannon off Logan Pass and the west side’s mighty Heaven’s Peak. 

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