Bearhat Adventure

Page Type
Trip Report
Montana, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Jul 31, 2004
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73.05% Score
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Bearhat Adventure
Created On: Dec 22, 2004
Last Edited On: Apr 27, 2009

I had my eyes on Bearhat for some time, and with two unsuccessful attempts due to a very late start and high winds on the other, today was the day.

Cruising out of the West Glacier KOA nice and early, I settled in for the one hour scenic drive up to Logan Pass, hoping to avoid the traffic and infamous red jammer buses which are notorious for backing up traffic.
Heavy Runner Mountain & Glacier LiliesHeavy Runner Mountain

Photo credit: saintgrizzly

After negotiating the Sun road successfully with only minimal delays at the stop lights, I cruised into the Logan Pass parking lot and grabbed my favorite parking spot. Having prepped most of my gear the previous night, I quickly changed clothes, fired up the GPS, and headed out into a brilliant sun drenched day.
View of Reynolds from the...Reynolds Mountain

Photo credit: KristinaAL

Heading up the boardwalk is always an interesting experience as you gawk at Reynolds and Clements and then survey the people making their way to the Hidden Lake overlook. I couldn't help evaluating people wondering who was just a casual tourist and who might be geared up to take on one of the summits surrounding Logan Pass.
Clements MountainClements Mountain

As you near the Hidden Lake overlook, a trail branches off for climbers who are headed for Reynolds Mountain. Just as I approached it, a party of four took off up that trail, and for a fleeting instant I seriously considered joining them. But not knowing their route plans and with my own game plan in place, I dashed that idea and kept on going.
Clements and OberlinClements & Oberlin

Photo credit: KristinaAL

Foot traffic drops considerably beyond the overlook and I proceeded down the 500' to the Hidden Lake outlet. Crossing the outlet is a 30-40' effort with sand giving way to very slick rock. Unfortunately, the slick rock is at the deepest part when your feet are the most numb. Using my brain for a change, I had packed some sandals with me, cruised across the outlet, and even received some compliments for having them.

I traversed along the trail between Hidden Lake and Bearhat's east face. This is where your nerves hit the surface because it looks like prime bear habitat. My plan was to work into the vegetation toward Bearhat's south end, but as I did this, I ran into Blair and Peggie from New Hampshire who informed me that they had been cliffed out this way and were back tracking to head up the steep talus slope above me. I quickly joined them and followed Blair as he had climbed Bearhat several years ago in some very cloudy conditions. His memory was excellent and we eventually reached the highest point of talus where it pours out of a gully that ran all the way to the summit plateau.
Bearhat Mountain.Bearhat Mountain

Photo credit: saintgrizzly

The crux of the effort came immediately with a 10-12' class 3 rock climb section which they suggested I go up first. It was negotiated, they passed their packs up, and followed me up. Here we sat and had some lunch and I was able to pick out the group of four making their traverse toward Reynolds Mountain. We worked our way up this gully, climbing out of it at times when it looked like the easier choice. Eventually we were forced out of it as the upper reaches were choked with snow. I had made a little quicker ascent, reached the relatively flat summit plateau, and proceeded to the north end summit cairn where Blair and Peggie quickly joined me. Knowing that the Glacier Mountaineering Society had a scheduled climb that day on the Dragon's Tail, I pointed the binoculars to the south and sure enough, picked up their group on the summit.
So many mountains it s difficult...Dragon's Tail

Photo credit: saintgrizzly


With the SW summit clearly visible, and being the highest point on Bearhat, I parted company and began my adventure. The plan was to follow Edward's route description and follow the ridge. However, I quickly encountered a dicey move with a 40' drop staring at me and decided this traverse was for those braver and more skilled than myself. There was nothing to do but retreat and descend hoping to traverse some more suitable terrain lower on the south side. I could see the goal which was a large prominent scree and rock gully running below and just to the west of the SW summit which once ascended would lead to the top. Getting there was traverse, get into a gully, pop out, traverse, get into a gully, descend, pop out, traverse, etc. This got me to the large scree gully which I ascended, peered over the huge drop on the other side and then up a couple of short cliffs and up to the top.
Bearhat Mountain, from the summit...Bearhat Mountain

Photo credit: saintgrizzly

I signed the wet notebook stashed inside an old leaky bicycle water bottle and after all of five minutes on top it was time to go down. I planned to follow the scree gully down hoping it would punch right through the cliff band to the easier slopes below. No such luck as I was cliffed out. Extreme concern hit me at this point as I realized I might not get down through the cliffs and have to do an arduous back track. I decided to traverse east and hope that by traversing and descending the numerous gullies I could get through the cliffs. Finally, to my extreme relief, the route opened up with a short down climb, but to get over to it I had to scoot across a flat rock ledge on my rear. Of course, a very large rock was blocking my path. I hated to do it, but there was no choice other than pushing it over the edge. Now I know why rock fall is so hazardous as it exploded like a bomb as it went down.

Once on the easier slopes below the cliffs, I continued to traverse to the east and then curving around the south end, picked up my back track on the GPS, and headed for the Hidden Lake outlet, where I had stashed my sandals.

As every Bearhat climber knows, the worst part is the 500' elevation gain back up to the Hidden Lake overlook. Head down, brain turned off, ignore the mountain goats, and hope it ends quickly.
Matahpi Peak and...Going-to-the-Sun Mountain

Photo credit: Klenke

Heading down the boardwalk was a nice way to unwind and relax. Fortunately I caught up with Blair and Peggie in the parking lot and we shared our stories, exchanged addresses, and parted company. The traditional post hike snack of cottage cheese and chocolate chip cookies ended a memorable day.


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