AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

North America, United States, Montana, Glacier National Park, Various Activity

Glacier National Park, Various Activity. A cool, dry fall, a full moon, and the sudden arrival of an arctic front coincided with a trip Ryan Hokanson and I had planned for the first week- end in November. To ensure we didn’t waste such rare conditions, a pilot friend helped me scout; on a windless morning, we circled deep inside the narrow valleys on the park’s west side, eyeing routes like Six Pack and Nothing To Do on Mt. Edwards from below. I also spot- ted an unclimbcd line on the south side of Gunsight Peak, above Lake Ellen Wilson.

Two days later, Ryan and I were hiking up the trail to Sperry Chalet, where we camped on the deck. The next morning, in snow just deep enough to make walking strenuous, we hiked over the pass to climb a new route, When the Levee Breaks (IV WI4, 140m). It proved to be four pitches of steep ice steps broken by short terraces. Ryan led the crux second pitch, several vertical steps of aerated and chandeliered ice, the longest about 20 meters. We rappelled off trees on ledges just west of the climb, then meandered back to our camp, enjoying the spectacular evening. The next day we moseyed over to Feather Woman Falls (III WI3, 90m) and climbed a line just left of center on ramps and short corners. Later that week, Don Scharfe and Jandy Cox climbed another line just right of center on the same falls, then, on their hike out, climbed Beaver Medicine Falls (IIW13 55m). Both falls had probably not been previously climbed.

The cold, dry weather and low avalanche hazard continued through the month, providing ideal climbing conditions, and people began repeating some of the many new routes done in recent years. The two gully climbs on Mt. Brown’s big northwest face became downright crowded, as over a dozen parties enjoyed the routes’ short approaches, negligible bush- whacking and long stretches of fun, easy ice. No one managed to climb high enough to run out of ice or to summit massive Mt. Brown, though Brandon French soloed to within roughly 500 meters of the top in the left gully. At the same time, Gabe Boisseau and Chris Gibbisch established Cerebral Aqueduct (III WI5 M?, 60m) just right of Controlled Burn on the Brainstem Wall in Snyder Basin. The route ascends rock to a free-hanging curtain, then climbs a mixed ramp to a WI5 finish. It is visible in the guide book photo of the wall. Unfortunately, the great climbing conditions meant for scary avalanche hazard when snow finally arrived in early December, so climbing activity ceased for some time.

Blase Reardon, unaffiliated