Heavy Runner via Reynolds Circuit Overview:
To visit Glacier National Park is to enter a place where Heaven touches Earth affording brief glimpses into the Wonders of Creation.
Heavy Runner via Reynolds Circuit, Glacier Park Class 2 & 3 on approach and 4 or 5 on summit attempt
Views from the top of Heavy Runner are truly spectacular. Neighboring peaks include Piegan, Pollock, Going-to-the-Sun, Matahpi, Reynolds, Bearhat, Cannon, Clements, Oberlin and The Garden Wall, The Bishops Cap and Gould to the North. There are also stunning views towards the Great Plains and of St. Mary’s Lake and its surrounding peaks.
This route completes a circuit around the base of Reynolds Mountain. The essential details are that this circuit crosses four saddles as it loops around Reynolds. Total distance around Reynolds and up to the Heavy Runner Summit is approximately 9 miles and total elevation gained on this route is 2,600 feet.
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Heavy Runner via Reynolds Circuit Approach:
After walking nearly 1.5 miles to near the top Hidden Lake Pass on the Hidden Lake trail from Logan Pass. The climber's trail takes off between two small ponds called "tarns". Take the obvious climber’s trail that is marked with cairns to the East towards Reynolds Mountain. Follow this well worn trail through trees and into scree fields below the ridge leading to the northwest saddle of Reynolds that overlooks Hidden Lake. While enjoying the scenery take time to review the return route from Heavy Runner through the bowl below the great North face of Reynolds.
Continue on the climber's trail as it proceeds below the base of Reynold's to the southwest saddle between Reynolds and The Dragon's Tail. This is the end of the climber’s trail.
Continue below Reynold’s cliffs to the next saddle by maintaining nearly the same elevation and head across the scree field while enjoying views of Fusillade and Twin Lakes. This is the area called “Eden East” by some local climbers.
On the last leg of the approach enjoyable route finding is necessary to drop down to the level of the saddle between Heavy Runner and Reynolds.
Heavy Runner Summit Route Description:
From the saddle between Heavy Runner and Reynolds the route to the class 4 and 5 climbs on the summit of Heavy Runner is uncomplicated. As elevation is gained locate the heavily used goat trails that assist in bypassing the ribs and trees that seem to block the way to the summit climb.
There are actually two summits. It is obvious when you reach them. Caution must be exercised climbing on this rock as it loose in many places. A rope and climbing gear is recommended for the Class 5 climb to the True Summit. If you do not have the equipment or skills necessary for this climb please just be satisfied with climbing to the False Summit.
The False Summit is reached by climbs on class 4 rock. This is where the summit cairn and register are located. There are a number of route options to the false summit.
The True Summit is reached by a class 5 climb. This climb is approximately 65 – 70 feet in height. There are a number of options so choose your route carefully. There is a rappel anchor at the top to assist climbers to safely rappel down the chimney during their descent.
The rappel is about 50 feet and as always check any anchor placement before using it.
Go prepared to replace the rappel anchor (click to see example) and even if what is in place looks new - check it VERY CAREFULLY because something up there chews on it.
Thanks to Fred Spicker for the updated information and more specific changes to the route information.
Heavy Runner Return Routes:
Retrace the route to the saddle between Heavy Runner and Reynolds. As with down-climbing on any off trail route be cautious of vegetation and wet rocks that could cause a loss of balance or fall.
To complete the Heavy Runner via Reynolds Circuit: From the top of Heavy Runner scout the route up the valley to the bowl below Reynolds’ north face and the slope leading back to the climber’s trail. From the saddle descend to just below the 6,800 foot contour in the valley and head west towards the bowl below Reynolds. It is necessary to route find through various sets of cliffs that have little exposure if proper route finding is used. The rocky terrain is enjoyable to walk through with Glacier’s wildflowers in full display. Stay in the scree fields below the cliffs. Route finding skills are beneficial in a number of areas as the climbers move towards the bowl and climber’s trail. The final challenge is the climbing the slope from the bowl to the climber’s trail. Upon reaching the saddle return via the Climber's Trail to the Hidden Lake Trail and Logan Pass.
or Reverse the Approach Route: This will save time and reduce elevation change as it does not drop down to the valley below Reynolds north face.
The Direct Approach Variation:
The Direct Approach, Glacier Park Class 2 & 3 on approach and 4 or 5 on summit attempt
Follow the instructions given in the Heavy Runner via Reynolds Circuit Approach until just before the saddle that overlooks Hidden Lake. It is not necessary to climb to the top of this saddle. Take time to review the approach to and return from the Heavy Runner and Reynolds saddle through to bowl below the North face of Reynolds before dropping down into the bowl. Climbers can also walk up the ramp on the northwest side of Heavy Runner to the summit pillars. Descending this way is also possible. Once again use caution when down climbing over vegetation and wet rock.
This variation simply requires following The Heavy Runner via Reynolds Circuit Return in the opposite direction for the approach and in the same direction for the return. The summit approach from the saddle is the same for both routes.
Essential Gear:Hiking poles will aide in your ascent and descent while working through Glacier’s wonderful scree on the side hill approach!
A rope and appropriate climbing gear will be helpful for climbers as they summit Heavy Runner’s False and True summits.
If an early season climb is made an ice axe and crampons may be needed to cross snowfields.
Guidebooks & Link:GUIDEBOOK:by J. Gordon Edwards A CLIMBER'S GUIDE TO GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
Glacier National Park in Pictures
Glacier Mountaineering Society
Logan Pass Trails