It has been several years since I last posted a Glacier page, and I am dedicating this one to Vernon Garner, known as Saintgrizzly here on SP. Vernon was not a technical climber, but no one has ever loved Glacier more than he did, and he would have loved to follow someone up this peak. Climb on, my friend; we miss you.
As one walks the final couple of miles of the beautiful and popular Iceberg Lake Trail, one cannot help but notice a huge pinnacle jutting higher than numerous smaller pinnacles on the Pinnacle Wall above. This is B-7 Pillar, one of Glacier's named peaks with a summit only accessible via Class 5 climbing.
B-7 Pillar's position allows it to yield some of the best views in the park attainable by a day climb, and it is well worth the trip if you have the endurance and the gear.
In A Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park, J. Gordon Edwards, the "patron saint of Glacier Mountaineering," says that B-7 Pillar is the highest point of the Pinnacle Wall. This is clearly true unless one considers Iceberg Peak to be part of the Pinnacle Wall, but the most common description of this vaguely defined feature is that it runs from Iceberg Notch to Ptarmigan Tunnel.
Climbing B-7 Pillar is a big undertaking since there is no legal camping available and one must therefore complete it all in a day. Plan on 4-6 hours of trail hiking and 4-5 hours of off-trail hiking, scrambling, and climbing. The technical climbing is at least 5.6, and although some of it is protectable, much is not because of rotten rock. When I climbed the peak, I free soloed the scariest parts because gear in the rock would have been worthless.
Although one can reach the peak from the Highline Trail and Ahern Pass, it is a lengthy trek of at least 10 miles to the pass, so I am going to describe the approach from Many Glacier Valley instead. If you are approaching from Ahern Pass, please see my pages on Ahern Peak and Iceberg Peak for more information.
From Babb, drive west into Many Glacier Valley in Glacier National Park. Follow the road to its end at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and follow signs to the Iceberg/Ptarmigan trailhead. Parking fills early, and you may have to park at the store, which is a short walk away.
This is a day that involves about 13 miles in all, with about 3700' in elevation gain. While that may sound fairly moderate, know that about 2600' of that elevation gain occurs over approximately 1.5 miles.
First, hike to Iceberg Lake. App. 5 miles, 1100'. Most of the trail is easy going, and fit hikers can do it in 2 hours or less.
Next, ascend to Iceberg Notch. Straight-line distance is half a mile, but the zig-zag line that is the easiest way up is more like a mile. Elevation gain is a bit more than 2000'.
My linked page for Iceberg Notch gives detailed route information, but for the purposes of just this page, here is some essential information:
Find a climber's trail up scree near the northern end of the lake and use it to ascend the steep hillside.
Go up steep grass and talus until you finally reach the cliff bands above. Note: you are staying right of and not traveling in the gully that leads to the notch.
Find your way through cliff bands and along occasional goat trails until you reach the notch. If you are careful, you can keep it at Class 3, but Class 4 spots are likely and Class 5 is possible as well.
Now traverse scree towards the obvious pinnacle.
Edwards describes two routes:
Northwest Chimney-- two pitches of Class 5 climbing, a pitch of Class 4, and an exposed scramble to the summit. I think I located this route but thought it looked hard and poorly protected. Edwards recommends making a 120' rap down this route to the scree below.
South Arete-- the route I used. Three (or two) pitches of Class 5 climbing. The first pitch, 5.6, was up a dihedral with good rock and good pro. To reach it, I scrambled to the pinnacle-studded ridge just south of the peak and traversed on spooky rock to the dihedral. (I think I started higher than the book describes it because the description says it is about 70' but my line was more like 40'.) The second pitch was up a chimney with plenty of holds but horrid rock, so I soloed it. It ended at a notch with insane exposure and a fantastic view of Iceberg Lake. If the rock had been decent and I had been leading, I would have built an anchor there in order to manage rope drag, as what I think of as the third pitch crosses the notch on poor rock and soon reaches 3rd class terrain. Once past the exposed, rotten 5th class rock, you should find the rest of the way to the top no harder than Class 3. Edwards recommends rappelling the Northwest Chimney, but I only had a 30m rope, so I downclimbed to the top of P1, slung a huge boulder, and rapped to where I started the 1st pitch; my 30m rope just made it, and I had to leave the sling with two rings behind.
As of 2018, the weekly entrance fee per vehicle was $35. Annual and Interagency passes are available and provide better value for many people.
Grizzly country-- know what to do and how to behave. Carry pepper spray. There are more bear sightings along the Iceberg Lake Trail than along any other trail in the park.
Carefully read other posted and printed regulations.
When to Climb
No backcountry camping here.
If approaching from Many Glacier Valley, you could stay at the Many Glacier Hotel or the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, or you could camp at the Many Glacier campground (no reservations, usually fills).
Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.