North America, United States, Montana, Glacier National Park, Mt. Siyeh, North Face, New Route

Publication Year: 2009.

Glacier National Park, Mt. Siyeh, north face, new route. After being deemed “inadmissible to Canada” by a guy with a badge who surely fantasizes about playing bad cop in a cheap movie, Justin Woods and I turned around and drove south. Maybe they were mad that their extensive vehicle search revealed nothing, and that Mr. Bad Cop’s manhood did not, despite his compensatory efforts, get any bigger. I’ve been kicked out of better places than this, I thought. Five hundred feet later, in a model of U.S.-Canada synergy, we were searched again. A disappointing day for our caped crusaders. Anyway, we had a dilemma. What to climb?

The north face of Mt. Siyeh is a 3,500-vertical-foot scree field. Justin was on one of only three teams to have climbed it, he and fellow Montana boy Ben Smith having repeated the original Kanzler-Kennedy route in 2005. Once, okay. Maybe. But twice?

On August 7, after the ranger at Glacier wrote “not recommended” on our overnight permit and made certain that we knew about safety stuff and bivy gear, we hiked six miles to Cracker Lake and slept. In early morning darkness on August 8 we left our bivy gear and approached the face. We started right of the central rib, near the lowest part of the face, and wandered up through a maze of vague features, dead-ends, and stacked blocks. The face is much steppier than it looks from afar, but at least the rock is terrible. Every pitch (many with lots of simuling, sometimes requisite to get anchors) deserved an R or R/X rating. The forecast offered a 50-50 chance of showers, so we tried to hurry. Most of the climbing was easy, 5.7/8 with occasional 5.10, and after 3,000 vertical feet of free climbing in 11 hours, we hit the northwest ridge and scrambled to the summit. The real-man way would be to climb the steep shield above the black band to the right, and/or continue straight up where we deked out to the ridge.

Regardless, it was a great day with a great partner, and given the moderate grade our route should clean up to be a classic.

From the summit we scrambled to the northeast, over another peak or two and down a nasty gully. We returned to Cracker Lake 14½ hours after leaving, packed-up and headed for the beer cooler.

Kelly Cordes, AAC