Gunsight Mountain, The Northeast Slope Route, Glacier Park Class 2 & 3
Gunsight Pass was received its name from George Bird Grinnell in 1891 due to the pass looking like a Gunsight as it lay between its two neighboring peaks. François Matthes called Gunsight Mountain Comeau Mountain, which was suggested by Lyman Sperry. It may have also been named Glacier Peak at one time. The previous information is from Place Names of Glacier National Park by Jack Holterman.
According to J. Gordan Edwards, the statistics for this route are 9.4 miles on the trail to Comeau Pass and about another mile to the summit and total elevation gained on this route of 6,050 feet. This trip is a long day if done from trailhead to trailhead in one day. Consider spending the night at Sperry Chalet or the Sperry Campground to make the trip more enjoyable. Thanks to Fred Spicker for the super accurate miles measurement.
Fred Spicker has done an excellent job describing Gunsight Mountain on the main page.
The differences between the Gunsight main page and this pages published distance must be based upon going to Sperry Glacier, whereas this route begins at the Comeau pass headwall.
Approach to the Northeast Slope Route
Follow the approach to Comeau Pass as found on the Gunsight Page.
For more information regarding the Comeau Pass Trail from Sperry Chalet visit the Comeau Pass album.
To visit Glacier National Park is to enter a place where Heaven touches Earth affording brief glimpses into the Wonders of Creation.
Northeast Slope Route DescriptionLooking from above the steps leading through the headwall at Comeau Pass, take time and study the route.
The Northeast Slope Route can be found in Volume 3 of Climb Glacier National Park. Find it when you arrive in the area from local retailers or order it from the author on line at Volume Three.
If you prefer the Edwards route he states on page 64 in A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park that “the route is obvious when viewed from the top of the Sperry headwall stairway. Stay on scree fields to the east of the steep snowfields, on easy class 2 and 3 cliffs that extend to the lowest part of the summit ridge.”
Edwards also notes in a WARNING: “Stay off the steep snowfields unless you are equipped with ice axes and familiar with techniques of self arrest.”
Route Photos: Move cursor over photo for route details
Sperry Glacier is receding and due to this the northeast ridge route is generally climbed on rock and in August 2007 only on small area of snow was cross in the initial approach to the ridge.
Follow that ridge up through an enjoyable series of class 2 and 3 scrambles that at times offer numerous routes. Generally the ridge leads right towards the low point on the ridge between the two summits of Gunsight. After working through the enjoyable cliffs along the ridge a great scree field is reached and with just a little perseverance the ridge will be reach. Be cautions not to loose these rocks on the scree fields during this climb.
Upon reaching the ridge it is just a few short minutes of a fantastic ridge walk to the summit block of Gunsight. The route is easy to follow and there is a small amount of class 2 scrambling to reach the actual summit.
Essential Gear and Special Considerations
Hiking poles will aide in your ascent and descent while working through Glacier’s wonderful scree on the side hill approach! Consider bringing scree gaitors and extra water as well, although there is adequate water throughout this route until the actual off trail portion begins.
If an early season climb is made an ice axe and crampons may be needed to cross the glacier and snowfields.
Special Considerations:The rock in Glacier Park is widely varied and it is not unusual to find several different types of rock on any given route. Know your rocks and be certain of your safety. J. Gordon Edwards has an excellent section in his guidebook on rock and climbing safety. Be safe and know your limitations as well as those who are climbing with you. Also refer to the following links for further details: GNP Rock and Grading System and the GMS Climbing Guidelines.