Overview of Clements Mountain, West Ridge Route
Clements Mountain, The West Ridge Route, Glacier Park Class 2 & 3
Clements Mountain stands 8,760 feet above sea level. It is easily seen from Logan Pass. Perhaps in the top 5 for most photographed mountains in Glacier National Park. Its neighbor to the south, Reynolds, probably takes the honor as the most photographed peak in Glacier.
The first recorded ascent of Clements Mountain, via the West Ridge Route, was on August 13, 1923 by Norman Clyde.
Clements Mountain is named for Walter M. Clements who played a key role in acquiring the “Ceded Strip” from the Blackfeet in the 1890’s. The “Ceded Strip” is all of the land between the continental divide and the eastern border of Glacier National Park.
The Blackfeet named this mountain, “Xixtaki-poka or Beaver Child,” for Alexander Culbertson, a fore father of beaver trappers, who saved a number of Blackfeet during an attack by the Cree-Assiniboine warriors who attacked the Blackfeet outside Fort McKenzie. The previous information is from Place Names of Glacier National Park by Jack Holterman.
Statistics for this route are 4.5 miles to the summit with 2.5 of those being on trails and total elevation gained on this route of 2,300 feet. This is an enjoyable day climb from Logan Pass.
Fred Spicker has done an excellent job describing Clements Mountain on the main page.
An up-to-date guidebook for this route can be found in Climb Glacier National Park, Routes for Beginning and Intermediate Climbers; Volume 1: Logan Pass, The Garden Wall, and Siyeh Bend. Purchase it when you arrive in northwestern Montana or purchase it on-line at Climb Glacier National Park.
Views of the AreaTo visit Glacier National Park is to enter a place where Heaven touches Earth affording brief glimpses into the Wonders of Creation.
West Ridge Route DescriptionFollow the boardwalk trail from the Logan Pass Visitor’s center to Hidden Lake Pass and the Hidden Lake Overlook. Continue hiking down the human trail towards Hidden Lake. Clements Mountain has a number of cliffs on this side and soon horizontal ledges are begun to be seen. Along the trail you will see some large purple rocks on the uphill side of the trail. Just past these rocks a climber’s trail takes off and begins an abrupt climb through a dry stream bed up the slope towards Bird Woman Pass between Cannon and Clements.
Continue on this trail following the cairns that others have left along the route. Eventually this climber’s trail splits and one portion of it continues west towards Bird Woman Pass and the other rapidly climbs uphill towards the west ridge of Clements. In A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park, Edwards states that the trail begins to climb “when almost directly above the outlet of Hidden Lake …. Look for an easy route going almost straight uphill” (pg. 284).
After reaching the west ridge of Clements there is an obvious climber’s trail that leads towards the summit of Clements. Follow that ridge up through the humps of rock that make the spine of this ridge. There is nothing higher than class 2 and 3 rock along this route. Cairns mark this route so be aware and do not be afraid to back track to the marked route if necessary. It may also be helpful to mark your route with GPS waypoints so a route can be back traced.
Edwards states that there are two routes to the summit of Clements; one being on the south side and the other being on the north side. Most climbers will find it enjoyable to experience both sides and zigzag along the spine on the more used climber’s trail.
Edwards notes on page 285 that both routes merge at the “Great Notch”.
It is here that the climber’s trail extends around the north side and has a great amount of exposure. J. Gordon Edwards has included an excellent black and white photo of the goat trail on the north face of Clements on page 279. Edwards warns on page 287 that “any slip off of this portion would surely be fatal”.
A 200 yard goat trail leads to another transition and the final scramble to the summit. It is just a few short minutes of scrambling to the summit of Clements.
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.
A GPS will also be a useful tool to help on the descent.
As with all hiking and climbing in Glacier National Park use caution and practice good manners with the wildlife. You are in bear country. Carry bear deterrent spray, don’t hike alone and make some noise. For more information please go to the Park's website for Bear Information. The U.S. Forest Service also has helpful information on Grizzly Bear Management.
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.
Guidebook and Climb RegistrationGUIDEBOOK: A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park; J. Gordon Edwards
CLIMB REGISTRATION: You do not have to register for day climbs in Glacier National Park but it is recommended. Backcountry travel regulations can be found at Backcountry Travel. There is also information from the Park Service on Mountain Climbing in Glacier. Registration for climbing Clements can be accomplished at the Logan Pass Visitor’s Center.