A First Visit
It doesn't get much prettier than this...
Glacier National Park had never been on my radar for a visit for most of my life; I had seen some pictures, and they were pretty, but it wasn't until I started hiking a couple of years ago that I started realizing that it just might be worth a visit. After hearing and reading Bob Sihler's ravings about the place and watching the Ken Burns documentary on the National Parks, I made it a priority to find a way up there this summer to get a feel for the place and climb a few peaks. In spite of the fact that I only had one day to do anything due to other vacation-like activities with the family, it was a wonderful experience and I'll be back for sure!
This trip report will mostly serve as a place to share some of the photos I took during my climbs of Reynolds and Oberlin, and to share my up close and personal experience with a mountain goat; more on that later...
Mountain Goats and Mount Oberlin
I had been wanting to climb Reynolds since the first time I read the SP page on the peak, and I knew that it would have to be my first Glacier scramble. My friend Lindsey wanted to get out as well, but given her fear of heights, we spent some time looking at the pictures before she decided that she'd give the SW Talus Route a go. Her best friend Hannah, who lives in Kalispell, joined us and we were out of town by 5:30 and up to Logan Pass about 7:15.
Big Horn Sheep
On the approach below Clements
There was still some snow on the approach in late July, but the going was easy and we saw five Big Horn sheep just before we rounded the corner into the sun on the south side of the mountain. The first bit of scrambling under the talus was easy; after reading descriptions of the climb, I was prepared for the slog up the loose stuff to be long and tiring, but compared to the stuff I'd done on Dunrud Peak in the Absarokas a few weeks earlier, it was very easy.
Ascending the talus slopes
Climbing the cliffs
We started up the Class 3 cliffs, and after getting back on track after a short detour where I missed a cairn and realized that the Class 4 vertical block I was trying to climb was off-route and might be uncomfortable for the other two, we were rounding the cliff edges and scrambling up the ridge to the top for some breathtaking views! Lindsey said later that she didn't look down once, and that got her through the climb...
The three of us on top!
Rounding the corner
Mount Oberlin and a Goat...
Oberlin and my friend the goat
Lindsey and Hannah were definitely not interested in another peak, so after getting off of the mountain itself down to the trail, I went ahead by myself and started up Mount Oberlin. A few hundred yards up the trail, as I crossed the section with the small waterfalls, I noticed a mountain goat on a snowbank nearby. I minded my own business as I passed, and the goat seemed to be not interested in me in the least, which was fine! However, about five minutes later, I heard hooves moving fast behind me on the trail, and I turned around to see the goat coming at me at full speed. I quickly ducked behind two short pine trees, and it stopped on the other side of the trees and started slowly following me around and around in circles, bleating loudly the whole time. I had my bear spray out, explaining in a calm voice that this didn't have to end badly for either of us; I then heard a baby goat making a sound in the brush a little ways away. While I'm not an expert on telling male from female goats, I'm assuming based on the behavior that this was a mother who thought I was out to get her baby. As soon as she heard the sound, she abruptly left and went off back down the trail a little ways.
I climbed to the saddle on the connecting ridge to Clements as per the Park Service's wishes, while watching several parties run up and down the trail that is not supposed to be used anymore. It seems to me that they're doing a fairly poor job of deterring people from using it; a sign where it cuts off seems like an obvious place to start! From here, there was a little fun scrambling to reach the top and the route was well-cairned and easy to follow. The guidebooks mention one possible Class 4 move, but nothing was harder than Class 3 in my opinion. The drop off the summit to the north is something else to behold - what a place!
Contemplating the answer to the question: "Why haven't I been here before?"