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Crowfeet Mountain
Mountain/Rock

Crowfeet Mountain

 
Crowfeet Mountain

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Montana, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 48.83700°N / 113.696°W

Object Title: Crowfeet Mountain

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Elevation: 8914 ft / 2717 m

 

Page By: Saintgrizzly

Created/Edited: Jul 17, 2004 / Jun 30, 2011

Object ID: 152826

Hits: 6798 

Page Score: 90.48%  - 32 Votes 

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Overview


From Henkel to Crowfeet—and beyond, to Merritt (far distant left, with glaciated summit)
 


 
Looking south, coming down...
Looking south, from Crowfeet
 
Good view of the saddle...
Crowfeet's east face
Crowfeet Mountain, a gently rounded peak when viewed from the west, vertiginous, spectacular, and anything but "gentle" from any other angle, is not usually done on its own, but almost always with Mount Henkel, and not infrequently with Apikuni Mountain (sometimes "Appekunny")—the three together forming a trio of accessible peaks in the Many Glacier Area, making for a breathtaking day of mountain vistas. And speaking of breathtaking...the east face of Crowfeet is a 2,000+ foot wall, sheer enough it will not be in the least embarrassing to have someone hold onto you as you peer down to Kennedy Lake, many, many airy feet below your perch! Crowfeet, and its two companions, are among those peaks qualifying for early season climbs, as the routes are on the south and west facing slopes, and lose their snow relatively quickly—much more so than many other GNP peaks. A nice aspect of these peaks is that the actual climb begins almost as soon as one leaves the Swiftcurrent Campground parking area—literally within the first quarter-mile.


Crowfeet Mountain (L); over 2,000' down to Kennedy Lake (R).
 

Crowfeet Mountain, and view NorthWest
A wonderful mish-mash of peaks to the Northwest!


Getting There


 
looking west from Crowfeet Mountain
Wide-angle view, West/Northwest
 
Crowfeet Mountain, south ridge
Another nice view to the south!
Crowfeet, Henkel, and Apikuni, are located in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park. Access is through the Many Glacier Entrance on the east side of the park, through Babb, MT. From the west, either drive through the park over Going-to-the-Sun-Road (Logan Pass), or around the park's southern boundary on U.S. Hwy 2. The Sun Road goes left at West Glacier, while Hwy 2 continues straight on to East Glacier Park, where the choice is to either take the very winding (but with spectacular views—don't force it: relax and enjoy!) Hwy 49, or continue on Hwy 2 the few miles to Browning, at which point you'll pick up Hwy 89, heading back to St. Mary (the eastern end of the Sun Road, and eastern main entrance to GNP), then on to Babb. Babb can also be reached from Canada via Hwy 89 or 17 (Canadian Hwys 2 and 6, respectively). All GNP roads are closed in winter, with the Sun Road sometimes not opening until July (average opening is second week in June; earliest opening ever is May 16, 1987, with next earliest being May 22, 2005—weather permitting, the Park Service traditionally begins plowing each spring on the first Monday in April: it's a long, difficult, dangerous task!); the road from Babb to Many Glacier opens earlier. Don't head out early in the year (i.e., June/early July) without checking the status of these roads—it is not  
An Inviting Route up Henkel
Couloir up Mount Henkel, as seen from the Swiftcurrent Campground.
unusual to have repeated, sometimes lengthy, road closures due to storms, avalanches, rock slides, or all three! Anyway, once you reach the Many Glacier area, find the Swiftcurrent campground, and you're there.

This link is probably self-explanatory: Map of Waterton/Glacier International Peace Park
(Note that clicking on the image after it loads brings up a larger version, making it MUCH easier to read.)

Current GNP Road Status and Information

And finally, click here for current information, as well as easy access to some
interesting photos showing the Plowing of Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Route


From the saddle just south of...
Approaching final ascent to the Crowfeet Mountain summit.

 
Crowfeet Mountain, final cliff band
Final cliff band below the summit.

Crowfeet Mountain is at the end of a ridge wrapping around to the northwest of Mount Henkel, and it is via this obvious and easy route that we went from one summit to the next. This link—South Couloir Route—will take you to Moni's excellent route description up the mountain. From the summit of Henkel, the route to Crowfeet is, basically, a nice ridge walk; elevation loss to the saddle is approximately a thousand feet, and with the possible exception of an airy "jump" between cliffs not far from the summit, the traverse is not at all difficult. At this (brief) point, some will feel more comfortable on a rope, others will not feel the need. Basically, this move is little more than a jump, but with exposure, so if you feel uncomfortable, by all means rope up; you can always unhitch yourself a few feet further on, then continue on through some pleasant-to-climb cliffs to the summit.


Descent

There are two routes off the mountain, one of which is simply backtracking to Henkel, then descend (or maybe first traverse over to Apikuni!) the same couloir you came up. This is no doubt the fastest way back to Swiftcurrent, but another way, and one with constant exposure to wonderful—and changing—views of Mount Wilbur, Iceberg Ridge, Iceberg Lake, and (at least while still high on Crowfeet) the majestic mountains further north and west, is to descend via the west slope of the mountain. Briefly head back towards Henkel, then let judgment tell you when to turn down; the descent is not technically  

Crowfeet Mountain, west flank
Descending the west flank.
difficult, but consists in areas of Glacier's notoriously loose and rotten sedimentary rock that is not quite scree, just large enough to prevent "skiing," and is hopelessly obnoxious and unpleasantly loose—but the views of Wilbur and Iceberg Lake are unforgettable! On our descent we stayed too far in the center of the mountain, causing us to run into a series of cliffs near the bottom, which cannot be seen from above but proved quite time-consuming to work through. The correct route down Crowfeet's west slopes would be to keep working north, as though heading to Ptarmigan Lake (clearly visible during the descent), thus avoiding the cliffs. From where you'll join the trail near Ptarmigan Lake it is about 4.5 miles back to the campground.

(It would be remiss to not point out that Crowfeet, and its adjoining neighbors, are also done by reversing the above ascent information—that is, from the Ptarmigan Tunnel trail, by ascending via the ridge which is accessed at the Ptarmigan Tunnel. An early start would give you a very nice day on and between Crowfeet, Henkel, then ending with Apikuni!)

Crowfeet s Rounded Western Face
Long descent on the west flank...

Red Tape, Wildlife, & Cautions Section


In case you need it: A couple reminders that this GNP/Northern Rockies area has a LOT of wildlife.
 

No permits required, but you must pay a park entry fee, which is $25 for one week, or $35 for an annual pass. Registration for day climbs in Glacier National Park is recommended, but not mandatory. Probably anyone prone to climbing in this part of the country already knows this, but the Northern Rockies are full of wildlife. Always be aware, and don't do anything stupid, like—for example—feed the bears, think that a mountain lion is even remotely related to your pet cat, or run up to a moose (moose are quite unpredictable, irritable, and very dangerous). And never, ever, EVER forget you're in grizzly country; they insist on being left alone—disagreement on that point is not an argument you'll win! Bear spray and noise should be part of every GNP foray you make into the back country. Black bears will be found in the forests, grizzlies commonly venture onto the above-timberline tundra, sometimes, when in pursuit of such delicacies as ladybugs or cutworm moth larva, even to the summits! Also note that improperly stored food in park campgrounds (i.e., scraps left around the table or campfire, or edibles in your tent rather than your car) will subject you to a $50 fine. If you wander off, leaving your pack unattended, and there is food in it which attracts the attention of, for example, a bear, it is also a fine. Folks, the Park Service is serious about not providing human food access to the critters!


When To Climb, & Climbing Considerations

From late June/early July (during this time frame expect LOTS of snow in the high elevations, but as has already been pointed out, due to their geographical orientation Crowfeet, Henkel, Apikuni, may well provide some relief from this) to early fall, depending on snow conditions. Traditional climbing season in the Northern Rockies is July, August, and September—with September weather becoming progressively colder and more unstable (sometimes dramatically so: PAY ATTENTION!) as the month progresses—but does of course vary from year to year. There are occasional winter climbs in the park, but not often, and then only by well-equipped, area-wise, extremely competent individuals. Basically, most of GNP is inaccessable through the winter, and avalanche danger, to put it mildly, is extreme almost everywhere.


CLIMBING CONSIDERATIONS

Because of the nature of the rock, there are special considerations regarding climbing in Glacier National Park, and grading systems unique to the Park have been developed by both J. Gordon Edwards and the Glacier Mountaineering Society. Anyone doing more than just "trail" hiking in this part of the Rockies should read the excellent and important information put together by Fred and Moni Spicker. Much—if not most—of the rock in GNP is sedimentary and rotten, and you need to know about it: Glacier National Park Rock & Grading Systems.

Camping

The Many Glacier Campground (sometimes referred to as the "Swiftcurrent Campground"—$20 per day—no reservations, first come first served basis) makes for a good, quick beginning to the climb! There are numerous campgrounds available within Glacier National Park. At Many Glacier there also are cabins with and without baths, a motel and a fancy hotel. There are showers available, and a restaurant immediately off the Swiftcurrent camping area. There are also many campgrounds—USFS, KOA, and private commercial—as well as motels just outside the park on both the west and east sides.

Click here for General Camping Information, and click here for Current Site Availability in specific campgrounds.

There are many accomodations and campgrounds on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, which juts against the GNP eastern border, and includes the towns of East Glacier Park, Saint Mary, Browning, and Babb.

Additionally, the park has a network of Backcountry Campsites, which are pretty much a requirement for multi-day treks; some of these are by reservations, some are first come, first served. There are application and length of stay restrictions; it's important to check the above link for relevant information.

Mountain Conditions/Web Cams


Weather page—an overview, plus current conditions and forecast


This is the New NPS Web Cam Page.


External Links/Additional Information/Items of Related Interest





In Tribute

On March 1, 2011, Vernon Garner, Saintgrizzly, left us after losing a bold, inspiring fight against pancreatic cancer. Or maybe he won, for he is at last free of his pain and has "shuffle[d] off this mortal coil."

Vernon was an important contributor on SummitPost, but beyond merely making good, informative pages, he actually inspired many who read his work. No one put more work into his or her pages than Vernon did, and many of those pages, especially those related to Glacier National Park, the place he loved above all others, are works of art in both the writing and layout. More than one person has wanted to visit Glacier or go back to Glacier largely due to what he shared about that magnificent place.

Many people on SP counted Vernon among their friends, and many more saw him as one of the best, one of those who exemplified the spirit of this site. He was one of the best of us, he will be missed, and he will not be forgotten.

As a tribute to him, Vernon's pages will remain in his name. Any member who sees a need for an addition or correction should please contact site management via the "Send PM to the Elves" feature.

Rest well and climb on, Vernon.

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