OverviewWe think that the North Face and East Couloir Route on Reynolds Mountain is certainly the most interesting route on the peak and probably one of the classic routes of Glacier National Park.
It offers an excellent short day climb with a very short approach and has several options for escape to other routes should the traverse of the north face or the east couloir be out of condition or look too intimidating. Most of the climbing on the route is class 2 and 3 with some short sections of class 4 in the upper east couloir.
The traverse of the north face, though not difficult, is extremely exposed and one must be constantly aware of their footing. In most places along this goat trail, you are just a stumble from eternity. This traverse is definitely not recommended if there is snow on the ledge.
The elevation gain from Logan Pass is about 2,500 feet over a distance of about five miles.
ApproachThe climbing guide to Glacier National Park describes the approach to Reynolds Mountain as all cross country, going directly across the meadows to the mountain. After most of the snow is melted, the NPS closes the meadows and other areas near the pass to protect fragile vegetation. The Glacier Mountaineering Society along with the NPS established several acceptable approaches to the peaks accessed from Logan Pass. The information desk in the visitor center has a map showing these approaches and there is a map posted at about the beginning of the boardwalk.
The approach to the routes on Reynolds Mountain is to follow the Hidden Lake trail to near its high point. From there, a now well established trail leads to the mountain.
NPS PDF file with maps and descriptions of Logan Pass access routes
Follow the trail along the base of the cliffs on the west side of the mountain to the first large couloir. The correct couloir can be identified by a large red colored slab in its middle a short ways above the trail. Ascend this couloir to the flat shelf on the northwest shoulder of the mountain. From the top of the couloir you can climb directly up the northwest shoulder (class 3 & 4), or traverse somewhat south and ascend easier slopes to the beginning of the ledge system that crosses the north face.
Climbing on this section of the route:
There is a good goat trail worn into the talus along the ledges that traverse upward across the face. The traverse is not difficult - class 2 at the most, but it is extremely exposed. In places, the ledges are fairly wide while in other places travel is along a narrow track immediately on the edge of tremendous exposure. If there is snow covering the ledge , it is a very dangerous situation requiring a rope and belaying (for most people).
The traverse of the north face ends on a great flat resting spot in the northeast ridge and where a ledge across the east face also meets this ridge. From here, one traverses south nearly all the way across the east face to the bottom of the prominent East Couloir (about 80 feet from the southeast corner of the summit block) which is climbed more or less directly to the summit bearing climber's right when necessary. Climbing in the East Couloir is class 3 and 4 with considerable exposure.
Alternate Route OptionsIf the traverse of the north face is out of condition or looks too intimidating, it is possible to traverse south above the cliffs to the Southwestern Talus Slope Route without descending the couloir back to the base of the mountain.
Similarly, if the East Couloir is out of condition or looks too intimidating, you can continue around the southeast corner of the mountain and traverse westward to the Southwestern Talus Slope Route thus completing the Grand Tour Route.