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Krinklehorn Gap Route

Krinklehorn Gap Route

Krinklehorn Gap Route

Page Type: Route

Location: Montana, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 48.81944°N / 114.78528°W

Object Title: Krinklehorn Gap Route

Route Type: Hiking, Scrambling

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Time Required: Most of a day

Rock Difficulty: Class 3

Route Quality: 
 - 3 Votes


Page By: rebelgrizz

Created/Edited: Nov 8, 2011 / Nov 8, 2011

Object ID: 758810

Hits: 717 

Page Score: 81.18%  - 13 Votes 

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If scrambling up Krinklehorn Peak is an option, follow the trail downhill after passing across the ridge. Follow the trail for almost 1 mile until comes to a point where it begins to turn toward the unnamed lake. If the trail intersects the Deep Mountain trail, turn around and go back.

Krinklehorn is right of the trail. Two couloirs snake their way up Krinklehorn. The first couloir should be avoided because of potential hazards such as rock fall. The second couloir is a steep grassy and rocky slope, making it manageable for folks with sturdy hiking boots, good lungs and experience on rocky slopes.

Facing the second couloir, look for a faint animal trail on the right. Follow it to the top of the ridge. Once on the ridge, the summit will be to the right. The ridge is relatively open and easy to follow.


The above route description is from the book, "Day Hikes Around The Flathead", by Stormy Good.

This description, along with many others in this book, is rife with inaccuracies. So many, in fact, I have doubts as to whether the author actually climbed the peak herself. On this page, I will give an accurate account of what we encountered when we climbed the peak on September 5th, 2011.

The Couloirs

Dictionary.com defines "couloir" as follows: A steep gorge or gully on the side of a mountain.



Krinklehorn Peak
Approximate route
Krinklehorn Peak
Ascending the second couloir

Taking the author at her word, we located the second couloir and began our ascent, looking forward to finding the game trail mentioned in the book. This grassy slope is indeed, steep and rocky, with many ball-bearing sized rocks beneath the grass, lying in wait for an errant step to send the climber crashing down the mountain. There are no holds and the higher we went the steeper the slope became. Also mixed in with the grass were many thorny weeds and sticker plants making for even more unpleasant going. Well, we never found a game trail (because it wasn't there) and at the earliest and best opportunity we bailed out of the couloir to climber's left. 
Krinklehorn Peak
Looking for a way out
Krinklehorn Peak
Looking down the col after the bailout

Traversing for a short way over a narrow grassy shelf above one of the many sets of cliffs we quickly came to a THIRD couloir, which looked like it would be easier to ascend, so up we went.

The Gap

If we had continued down the trail for almost .6 miles we would've not only passed the intersecting trail that the author says is about 1 mile down the trail, but we would've found the third couloir (which is so wide that it's almost a pass, so I've entitled it "The Gap Route") which did, in fact, prove to be an easier way to ascend to the summit ridge than the second couloir. The Gap...pictured below.

Krinklehorn Peak
Krinklehorn Peak

Continue down the trail from the saddle between Krinklehorn and Krag for .6 miles and go past the trail marker and look for the large flat rock off the trail to the right.

Krinklehorn Peak
Approximate route
Krinklehorn Peak
Zoom of route

Looking up the gap, you can avoid most of the boulder field at the bottom by going right. Once past the boulder field angle back to the left to avoid the nasty cliffs on the right. You will more than likely have to use the branches of the larger evergreens to pull yourself upward to gain elevation as this slope is also very steep. The smaller evergreens along the route also prove quite useful as holds and to steady yourself if you need a break while ascending. The picture to the left shows where we came out (blue line) from the traverse over from the second couloir. After ascending for a few moments we discovered the game trail that was supposed to be in the second couloir. Located along the right side, it angled over toward the middle of the "gap" as we gained elevation to the top. Although covered with small, loose, rock and dirt, it did make for easier going. As you can see, the ridge to the top of the unnamed point looks quite inviting.  
Krinklehorn Peak
Unnamed point from the top of the gap
Krinklehorn Peak
Looking back down the route

Summit Ridge

Krinklehorn Peak
Initial terrain on the ridge
Krinklehorn Peak
Approaching cliffs
The west side of the mountain is typical of the Whitefish Range. Steep, grassy terrain with fewer and fewer trees the higher you go. We stayed just below the ridge-top to avoid unnecessary exposure.

Krinklehorn Peak
Climb up here
Krinklehorn Peak
Ascending the cliff

Going up the ridge is actually easier than ascending up the "Gap" to get to the ridge. The footing is much more solid and secure along the ridge particularly when you start getting into the small cliffs.

Krinklehorn Peak
Climb this wall
Krinklehorn Peak
Almost there

Once higher up on the ridge and onto more rock than grass the footing becomes even better. There are only a couple of easy small cliffs to overcome and then suddenly, you're almost there, there is only one more obstacle to overcome.

Summit Area

Krinklehorn Peak
Summit block from the top of last cliff
Krinklehorn Peak
JFKitty about to take the "safe" route

Once you reach the top of the last cliff, you are suddenly faced with a short drop-off (5-8 feet) to a platform before the last scramble up the summit block. This drop-off can be down-climbed but there is severe exposure if doing so. There is a "safer" alternative, also with exposure, but no down climbing...just a climb around to the platform around the right side of the last cliff. 
Krinklehorn Peak
Summit block from the "safe" route
Krinklehorn Peak
Holding on for dear life

Krinklehorn Peak
On the platform
Krinklehorn Peak
JFKitty on the final scramble

Once on the platform, there is severe exposure on both sides, but the scramble up the summit block is short and sweet as the rock is solid and the holds are good. It would be hard to fall here but if you did it would quickly turn quite ugly.

Examples of exposure pictured below.


Route Statistics

TerrainOne-Way MileageElevation Gain
Trail #3584.692837'
Descent of Trail #358.59-293'
Bushwhack up "Gap".25472'
Bushwhack up Ridge.20351'

Don't forget the .6 mile and almost 300' climb back up to the Krag-Krinklehorn saddle on your way out. Take plenty of water or spend the night in the basin, filter some from the lake, and then climb Krag and/or Deep.

I believe the Glacier Mountaineering Society would give Krinklehorn the following rating:

III (3) L M