Mount Cannon is a massive peak located between Lake McDonald and Logan Pass in Glacier National Park. There are three distinct high points, with the Southwest Summit (8,716 ft.) and the Northeast Summit (7,860 ft.) separated by almost two miles of jagged ridge. The central summit is the highest point.
Norman Clyde made the first known ascent of the central summit via the East Ridge on 15 August 1923.
The mountain was originally known as Goat Mountain. On July 19, 1901 the Southwest Summit of the mountain was climbed by newlyweds Dr. Walter Bradford Cannon and Cornelia James Cannon with guide Denis Comeau. This party renamed the peak Mount Cannon.
Dr. Cannon was a noted physiologist and Nobel Prize nominee at Harvard University. The climb of Mount Cannon is mentioned at this site under "A Son's Reflections"
Dr. Cannon tells of the climb in a letter to his father written two days later:
"Comeau came to the station (Belton) with us and there the humor of the situation occurred to us. He received a letter from Dr. Lyman Sperry planning several guides and a pack train and a week's time to climb "Goat Mountain." We tenderfeet looked at each other and burst out laughing! It is no longer Goat Mountain but Cannon Mountain. All the people in McDonald are already calling it that, and the name has been given to the Topography Team of the U.S. Geological Survey just now passing through to map the region officially. Wasn't that a pretty good job for the new combination to do in three days?"
In his autobiography "The Way of an Investigator" (1945) he writes:
"That we might leave evidence of our climb, we wrote on a scrap of paper a brief account of it and the date, and put the record in a small bottle. Over it we built a cairn of flat stones. So far as we are aware, no one has climbed the mountain since that time. It is quite possible that through the intervening decades, the paper has disintegrated. The cairn should be there, however, and the bottle under it."
In 1985, James Best and Ted Steiner climbed the Southwest Summit of Mount Cannon and discovered the bottle with the note. When they learned the historical importance of their find, they retrieved the bottle and note, which are now in the National Park Service archives. There was some question about the original nature of the bottle (it could have been traded out by a later climber), but the handwriting on the note has been confirmed by both the Curator of Rare Books of the Harvard Medical Library and by Dr. Cannon's family.
On a good day, Mount Cannon can be seen near the center of the Lake McDonald Web Cam. For peak names, see This Photo
Views from Mount Cannon
Glacier National Park is located in northwestern Montana. Going-to-the-Sun Road is the main scenic route through the Park and the way to Logan Pass and Reynolds Mountain. It is not kept open during the winter. Closing in the fall and opening in the spring depends on snow depth and conditions. Opening can be as late as July.
Current Road Status
A map of the Logan Pass area: Logan Pass Area Map
Current Entrance Fees
Registration for day climbs in Glacier National Park is recommended, but not mandatory.
Outdoor Activity Page Includes links to boating, bicycling, fishing, etc. and the regulations applying to each.
Routes OverviewGUIDEBOOK: A CLIMBER'S GUIDE TO GLACIER NATIONAL PARK; J. Gordon Edwards
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. Please see this Fact Sheet for further details:
GNP Rock & Grading Systems
A CLIMBER'S GUIDE TO GLACIER NATIONAL PARK describes just one route to the central summit of Mount Cannon (referred to as Cannon Mountain in the guidebook). I know of no others that have been climbed to this, the highest point.
East Ridge Class 3 with one possibly Class 4 pitch, Edwards states about 5.5 miles (using Google Earth and MapTech it is more like 3.5 miles ground distance) and 2,200 vertical feet to the summit from Logan Pass. One follows the Hidden Lake Trail to a good point from which to traverse to Birdwoman Pass (between Mount Cannon and Clements Mounain). From the pass, one climbs the southeast shoulder of the mountain to attain the East Ridge which is followed to the summit.
First Known Ascent: Norman Clyde, 15 August 1923
A detailed route description is included in CLIMB GLACIER NATIONAL PARK Volume 1
Northwest Slopes Class 3 & 4, no other details known
This is almost certainly the route of the 1901 ascent by the Cannon party.
South Face Class 4 & 5, no real details given. A traverse from the Southwest Summit to the main summit is described as not practical.
First Known Ascent: James Best & Ted Steiner, 25 & 26 July 1985 (Journal of the Glacier Mountaineering Society, Fall-Winter, 1985)
North Face Class 4 & 5 (about 20 pitches), the steep face immediately west of Birdwoman Falls. Approach directly up the slopes from Going-to-the-Sun Road. Terry Kennedy describes the 2,000 foot bushwhack from McDonald Creek to the base of the rock as the real crux of the route.
First Ascent: Tom Cladohous & Terry Kennedy, 25 & 26 August 1982 - possibly the first ascent of this summit. (Journal of the Glacier Mountaineering Society, Winter 1982)
When To Climb
June, July, August, September, and even into October depending on the amount of snow and the road closure.
CampingThere is no camping at Logan Pass.
There are numerous campgrounds available within Glacier National Park:
Backcountry Camping Page Includes trail status reports, campground availability, daily backcountry bulletins, and a backcountry blog.
Car Camping Page
There are also many campgrounds just outside the Park on both the west and east sides.
Camping on the Blackfeet Reservation is restricted to established campgrounds only.
Mountain ConditionsWeather Page an overview with a link to the local forecast.
External LinksGlacier National Park Homepage
Glacier Mountaineering Society
Non-government Glacier National Park Information