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Stanton Mountain
Mountain/Rock

Stanton Mountain

 
Stanton Mountain

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Montana, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 48.65994°N / 113.89423°W

Object Title: Stanton Mountain

Activities: Hiking, Scrambling

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Elevation: 7750 ft / 2362 m

 

Page By: Saintgrizzly, thephotohiker

Created/Edited: Aug 26, 2007 / Jun 27, 2011

Object ID: 328922

Hits: 8869 

Page Score: 94.59%  - 48 Votes 

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OVERVIEW

 
Stanton Mountain Summit
Stanton Mountain Summit


First, the Problem:

Stanton Mtn, "only" 7,750'

...then, the Contradiction:

Lake McDonald, 3,156'
 
Lake McDonald
Stanton Mountain from Apgar Village

Stanton Mountain is victim to a contradictory and somewhat deprecating Glacier National Park status. This, despite that the climb is just a few feet less than 4,600' elevation gain, has a good trail the first 2.3 miles, followed by maybe a half mile of bushwhacking—of which only the first 10 or 15 minutes can be termed difficult—leading in turn to more open timber, then to an ascent through an old burn, until finally, tundra and rocks finish the job by leading to a summit with a nice view. The peak is a good early season outing which a moderate, steady pace will do in a bit more than three hours, and in fact combines enough disparate elements to qualify as one of those summits it is safe to label as a good "introductory" Glacier Park ascent.
 
Stanton
Stanton Mountain, Solo...

Yet for all this, Stanton Mountain is a stepchild, is considered one of the the park's "minor" mountains, and will always remain such. The problem is that the immediate neighborhood consists of Mount Vaught, Heavens Peak, and  
Lake McDonald
Stanton, Vaught, McPartland...
Longfellow Peak, not to mention the not-all-that-distant company of such as Mount Brown, Mount Cannon, and peaks leading to the Logan Pass area—all the surrounding countryside is (with the exception of Mt. Brown, at "only" 800' higher), at the least, another 1,000' up! The summit has a nice view of Lake McDonald, which means that Lake McDonald also puts Stanton Mountain into clearly defined perspective, and it must be said in all honesty that when viewing the mountain from—say—Apgar Village (which is at lake's edge), the subject of this page is just a bit diminutive in relation with everything else. In other words...nice, but not by any means overwhelming. Only a climber would make account of—and be able to do so prior to setting foot on the mountain—the fact that the lake is at such-and-such an elevation, that the ascent of this "small" mountain entails almost 4,600' elevation gain, then have the understanding that climbing this nice little peak is not exactly (and is in fact substantially more than) a simple and easy morning exercise stroll—with a little hill-work thrown in for good measure—in the northern Rockies.


The immediate neighbors Mount Vaught (R) and Heavens Peak (L)

 
Burn, Lake McDonald, Great Northern Mountain.
Burned trees, Lake McDonald...

Adding insult to injury is the fact that closest neighbor Mount Vaught (8,850') is considered a much more worthy endeavor, and more often than not is done from Stanton, which at this point has been reduced to merely a check point, a bump in the road, on the way to conquering one of the area’s "majors." And I suppose that's okay; after all, Vaught is indeed a (really) nice mountain; a picturesque saddle (with an elevation loss of around 750') separates the two, and after leaving its ridge and encountering Vaught proper there is well over a thousand feet of impressive cliff work before summiting. All of which leaves Stanton Mountain more or less out of mind and with the underwhelming appellation, succinctly expressed by J. Gordon Edwards (A Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park) as, "This sharp little peak...."
 
Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald in silver...

I've done Stanton twice, and don't feel in the least cheated, as though having done something second-rate. It's not necessary to always climb the "biggies" to experience a rarified environment; experience Stanton's 4,600 feet (with enough steepness you'll regret it if you're out of shape!), and the vista opens up with all the drama and air expected of a place like Glacier; the great peaks are there for the seeing, Lake McDonald is practically at your feet, Mount Vaught—only an arm's length away!—can almost be touched...and taking in the panorama, excitement grows with the imagining of future climbs. I believe "this sharp little peak" to be only relatively diminutive; it is a real gem, and easily and well worth the effort.

SUMMIT VIEWS



Mountains to write home about...


Ridge from Stanton to Vaught
Cleveland & Merritt dominate the distance
Mount Cannon
Mount Brown
From Stanton, to the South

IMPORTANT MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION



 
Burned trees, False summit...
Burned Trees, False Summit...
There are several things to know about climbing this mountain. The first is that approximately half a mile up the trail you cross a stream, which is the last water encountered. The mountain has none, and if you choose to use Stanton as the means to also doing Vaught, there is none there, either. There will almost for certain be snow fields as late as early July, even in a dry year—these on the east face of Stanton's summit—which will help, but be forewarned that if they are not there, and the goal is Vaught...you'll need a full (long) day's supply on your back!
 
Stanton Mountain Ascent Ridge
Final approach...

This is a climb which can be ruined by not having insect repellent along. At the point where the trail is left to begin bushwhacking, they can be so bad that unprotected arms will actually be black from the hungry bloodsuckers! It was that way on my first ascent, which was on a chilly day in early June. A year later, when we did the mountain in early July they were still bad, but not so much so. Also, the flies will persist all the way to the summit (although the initial bushwhack area is worst), and do in fact nest on the summit cairn.
 
Stanton Mountain West Ridge
West Ridge Route...

Another bit of miscellany, the advance realization of which can make the climb a bit more enjoyable, is that the descent is all on a west-facing slope, and includes a relatively long stretch through an old burn, so there is no shade. The trail out (substantially lower in elevation, so it's warmer than on top) wraps around the western part of the mountain, and while there is shade at times, it is still uncomfortable. The suggestion here is that if the day looks to be heading for hot and cloudless, get an early start—the afternoon sun can be intense!—and ration your water, so you'll have a bit left for the lower part of the descent.
 
Stanton Mountain Summit
View through to the summit...

Lastly—and this is just a bit of information relevant to not a lot except beginning climbers in this part of the Rockies—most of Glacier National Park rock is sedimentary, crumbly-rotten, and falling apart. It is vital that handholds and foot placement be carefully tested, and that such caution become a way of life. However...Stanton Mountain is an exception  
Heading down...
Surmounting the false summit on descent...
to the rotten rock norm. Previously, it was mentioned that this peak is a good "introductory" climb for those new to the park...and so it is; it has much to experience of what is typical in GNP, but is missing the common and dangerous type of rotten cliffs pretty much prevalent as an indigenous and contentious life form throughout the area. There is rock climbing near the top, but it is all pretty solid, and not difficult. (As of this writing—August, 2007—I've not yet done Mount Vaught, the cliffs of which, seen from the summit of Stanton, look to be considerably more difficult than anything encountered up to that point. FlatheadNative, who has done Vaught, provides the information that there are indeed areas of rotten cliffs, but that careful route finding will enable them to be avoided. Thanks for the input, Blake!)


Mount Vaught—usually (but not always) done from Stanton

ASCENT VIEWS


Photos taken from the West Ridge Route; even though almost half the climb has no trail,
this is a very easy mountain on which to find your way to the summit.


Three scenes from the ascent:

Heavens Peak West Face
A Threatening Mount Vaught
Heavens and Vaught


Looking north: Three more as the vista opens...

Vulture Peak (L), Longfellow Peak
Mount Cleveland
Mount Merritt, Ipasha Peak

GNP ROAD INFORMATION


Standard Precautionary Note Here: All GNP roads are closed in winter, with Going-to-the-Sun Road (the major route through the park; its eastern terminus is at Saint Mary) sometimes not opening until July (average opening is second week in June; earliest opening ever is May 16, 1987, with the second earliest being May 22, 2005). Don't head out early in the year (i.e., June/early July) without checking the status of these roads—it is not unusual to have repeated, sometimes lengthy, road closures due to storms, avalanches, rock slides, or all three! The same holds true for late in the year; weather changes dramatically, beginning usually around the end of August, with road closures normally becoming more and more frequent through the month of September (although don't shy away from going, there can also be very nice—albeit cool or cold—days of Indian Summer throughout this time frame; plus the park is relatively free of people after Labor Day). The following links are pretty much self-explanatory, and provide all sorts of useful and interesting information:

Current GNP Road Status

Map of Waterton/Glacier International Peace Park
(Note that clicking on the image after it loads brings up a larger version, making it MUCH easier to read.)

And finally, click here for current information, as well as easy access to some
interesting photos showing the Plowing of Going-to-the-Sun Road.

THE RED TAPE, WILDLIFE, & CAUTIONS SECTION


No permits required, but you must pay a park entry fee, which is $25 for one week, or $35 for an annual pass. Registration for day climbs in Glacier National Park is recommended, but not mandatory. Probably anyone prone to climbing in this part of the country already knows this, but the Northern Rockies are full of wildlife. Always be aware, and don't do anything stupid, like—for example—feed the bears, think that a mountain lion is even remotely related to your pet cat, or run up to a moose (moose are quite unpredictable, irritable, and very dangerous). And never, ever, EVER forget you're in grizzly country; they insist on being left alone—disagreement on that point is not an argument you'll win! Bear spray and noise should be part of every GNP foray you make into the back country. Black bears will be found in the forests, grizzlies commonly venture onto the above-timberline tundra, sometimes, when in pursuit of such delicacies as ladybugs or cutworm moth larva, even to the peaks! Also note that improperly stored food in park campgrounds (i.e., scraps left around the table or campfire, or edibles in your tent rather than your car) will subject you to a $50 fine. If you wander off, leaving your pack unattended, and there is food in it which attracts the attention of, for example, a bear, it is also a fine. Folks, the Park Service is serious about not providing human food access to the critters!

WHEN TO CLIMB, & CLIMBING CONSIDERATIONS


From late June/early July (during this time frame expect LOTS of snow in the high elevations) to early fall, depending on snow conditions. Traditional climbing season in the Northern Rockies is July, August, and September—with September weather becoming progressively colder and more unstable (sometimes dramatically so: PAY ATTENTION!) as the month progresses—but does of course vary from year to year. There are occasional winter climbs in the park, but not often, and then only by well-equipped, area-wise, extremely competent individuals. Basically, most of GNP is inaccessable through the winter, and avalanche danger, to put it mildly, is extreme almost everywhere.


CLIMBING CONSIDERATIONS

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 by both J. Gordon Edwards and the Glacier Mountaineering Society. Anyone doing more than just "trail" hiking in this part of the Rockies should read the excellent and important information put together by Fred and Moni Spicker. Much—if not most—of the rock in GNP is sedimentary and rotten, and you need to know about it: Glacier National Park Rock & Grading Systems.

CAMPING & LODGING


There are numerous campgrounds available within Glacier National Park, of which only Fish Creek and Saint Mary take reservations (not required, but probably a good idea during the peak summer tourist period). The Fish Creek, Apgar, Sprague, and Avalanche Campgrounds (Avalanche often fills relatively early) are all within easy driving distance of the Stanton Mountain trailhead. There are also many campgrounds, as well as motels, just outside the park on both the west and east sides. And if you really feel extravagant, you can spend the night at the Lake McDonald Lodge, which has a nice view of the peak you are about to climb.

Click here for General Camping Information, and click here for Current Site Availability in specific campgrounds.

Also, and for those so inclined...GNP does have Backcountry Campsites throughout the park, including the Lake McDonald area. Some of these sites can be reserved; others are on a first come basis. Anyone doing extensive, several day, remote hiking/climbing would be well advised to check this out.

CURRENT MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS/WEB CAMS


Weather page—an overview, plus current conditions and forecast


This is the New NPS Web Cam Page.


EXTERNAL LINKS/ADDITIONAL INFORMATION/ITEMS OF RELATED INTEREST





In Tribute

On March 1, 2011, Vernon Garner, Saintgrizzly, left us after losing a bold, inspiring fight against pancreatic cancer. Or maybe he won, for he is at last free of his pain and has "shuffle[d] off this mortal coil."

Vernon was an important contributor on SummitPost, but beyond merely making good, informative pages, he actually inspired many who read his work. No one put more work into his or her pages than Vernon did, and many of those pages, especially those related to Glacier National Park, the place he loved above all others, are works of art in both the writing and layout. More than one person has wanted to visit Glacier or go back to Glacier largely due to what he shared about that magnificent place.

Many people on SP counted Vernon among their friends, and many more saw him as one of the best, one of those who exemplified the spirit of this site. He was one of the best of us, he will be missed, and he will not be forgotten.

As a tribute to him, Vernon's pages will remain in his name. Any member who sees a need for an addition or correction should please contact site management via the "Send PM to the Elves" feature.

Rest well and climb on, Vernon.

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