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North Ridge

North Ridge

North Ridge

Page Type: Route

Location: Montana, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 48.75361°N / 114.59917°W

Object Title: North Ridge

Route Type: Hiking, Scrambling

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Time Required: Most of a day

Difficulty: Steep Class 2+, with some exposure

Route Quality: 
 - 2 Votes


Page By: rebelgrizz

Created/Edited: Nov 22, 2011 / Nov 22, 2011

Object ID: 761483

Hits: 503 

Page Score: 80.49%  - 12 Votes 

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The Trail

Whitefish Mountain
Skinny meadow
Whitefish Mountain
Skinny meadow from the ridge
Trail #26 begins at the Link Lake Trailhead but takes off to the west...in the opposite direction of Link Lake. Follow this trail for just short of two miles as it traverses the basin on the north side of the mountain...gaining just shy of 850'. When you reach the "skinny meadow" with two huge trail cairns, look to your left, and you will see the beginning of the "North Ridge" rising slowly from the ground. If you look carefully in the photo below you can see what looks like the beginning of a game trail...this quickly peters out and the rest of the route up the north ridge is a bushwhack.

The Western Summit

Even though the route up the north ridge is a bushwhack, the route is pretty straightforward. I'll state the obvious, if you keep going "up" through the initial stand of trees, while sticking to the top of the ridge, you can't go wrong.


Whitefish Mountain
Hiking up the north ridge
Whitefish Mountain
Farther up on the ridge
Whitefish Mountain
Even farther up

The route is just a "walk-up" until you encounter a large blockage. From a distance this blockage looks rather intimidating, but when you get closer to it, multiple ways to climb it present themselves.


Whitefish Mountain
Whitefish Mountain
Closer to summit

Once past the blockage there is some more minor scrambling until you are able to start hiking again along the summit ridge to the actual western summit. Again, the western summit is broad and flat and tree-covered.

The Eastern Summit

From the western summit descend the ridge to the east for about 1/3 of a mile, losing about 200' in elevation, until you reach the rocky saddle between the two summits. This is a great place to take a break and have lunch before you take on the eastern summit. From the saddle, pick a line up the ridge and go for it. As stated before, this is more of a scramble and can be as exposed as you would like it to be. We found easier going the closer to the ridge...less vegetation to contend with, for the most part, although, in a couple of spots, small trees and bushes were growing all the way over to the edge.

Whitefish Mountain
JFKitty ascending the eastern summit
Whitefish Mountain
JFKitty on the route
Whitefish Mountain
JFKitty scrambling

Whitefish Mountain
Approximate route

Whitefish Mountain
Closer aspect

This portion of the trip is short and sweet...less than a tenth of a mile gaining approximately 160'. As stated earlier, views from the eastern summit are very rewarding. View those on the main page.

Whitefish Mountain
Route exposure
Whitefish Mountain
Another example of exposure
Whitefish Mountain
More exposure

Route Statistics

TerrainOne-Way MileageElevation Gain
Trail #261.73838'
Ascent to western summit.91542'
Descent to saddle.34-191'
Ascent to eastern summit.09160'

Don't forget the almost 200' you must re-gain going back up the ridge to the western summit if you choose to go on and climb the eastern summit.

I believe the Glacier Mountaineering Society would rate this climb as the following:

2 (3) M S