|The view from the top of Sinopah|
|Our group and what we were after ---- Sinopah in the background|
|Coming down on a series of ledges, a good time for a break|
|Coming off, a look back at what we did|
With temperatures above or near 100 degrees nearly every day, it makes hard, aerobic play somewhat risky. The smoke from nearby forest fires makes things even riskier.
This is Glacier Mountaineering Society Week, something I look forward to every year.
I led a group of six climbers up Mount Sinopah (elevation: 8,271 feet) on Monday. The heat was oppressive. The smoke obscured the vistas.
I love the romantic legend of Sinopah, the Blackfeet princess given by her father Lone Walker, to land agent Hugh Monroe, who was later given the Blackfeet name Rising Wolf.
These three are represented by mountains named for them on the west and north flanks of Middle Two Medicine Lake.
In spite of the smoke we enjoyed the challenge of working our way up the south side of Sinopah that dominates the west shoreline of Middle Two Medicine Lake.
We opted not to follow the route suggested in Gordon Edwards’ “Climbers Guide to Glacier Park.” The guide suggests getting off trail just before the bridge at Rockwell Falls. This approach shoots straight up through the forest and steep scree to the base of Sinopah’s cliffs. Instead, we continued on past the falls and gained elevation gradually on park trail, then cut a diagonal to the cliffs. We had to cross the creek twice (no problem, no wet feet) and cut up through some trees, but found this route considerably easier and more interesting, if a tad longer, than the scree slog on the suggested route.
At this point, we located the recommended couloir, put on climbing helmets to protect against loose rock, and started up through the cliffs. Route finding was straight-forward but interesting and amounted to stair-stepping ledges.
At top the views are staggering, but were somewhat obscured by smoke from the forest fires. The glaciers on the flanks of Mounts Jackson and Blackfoot were barely visible to the northwest, and we had a hard time identifying peaks to the direct north because of the haze. However, the Two Medicine valley spread out at our feet highlighted by Middle Two Medicine Lake.
We took the Edwards route through the scree back to the trail, lingering at the upper Rockwell Falls.