Grinnell Glacier Overlook to Point 8479 (GNP)

Grinnell Glacier Overlook to Point 8479 (GNP)

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 48.76661°N / 113.72735°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: Class 3
Sign the Climber's Log
Mount Gould above Grinnell GlacierGrinnell Glacier and Mount Gould
Swiftcurrent MountainSwiftcurrent Glacier and Tons of Peaks!

Have You Had A Day Like This?

It was the worst of times; it was the best of times.

We set off to in the morning to summit Mount Grinnell.

I admit it…we got off route…I still don’t know for sure what we did wrong. Were we supposed to traverse high or low? Was there a way through the cliffs? There are a lot of questions....still unanswered.

What we did right was make good decisions, did not take risks and we enjoyed another fantastic day in Glacier’s backcountry.

We will return and get it the right way next time.

Renewing old relationships and exploring Glacier National Park is still a great way to spend the day even though an objective is not reached.

Update 9-13-2010

I am learning from other climbers that we were not the first to have difficulty finding the correct route. We returned and successfully summitted Mount Grinnell.

For an accurate route description for reaching Mount Grinnell from the Grinnell Glacier Overlook see Mount Grinnell via Overlook route.

The route to Grinnell Mountain can be found in Volume 3 of Climb Glacier National Park. This is an updated book featuring full color photographs of routes and much more. Find it when you arrive in the area from local retailers or order it from the author on line at Volume Three.


Point 8479 is located smack dab in between Grinnell Glacier and Swiftcurrent Glacier and slightly north of the Continental Divide.

For the amount of effort required to gain the summit of Point 8479 the rewards are high. Climbers traveling between Logan Pass and Granite Park Chalet could easily add a short side excursion to their day and certainly feel good about the added effort.

For details on this route please see the route description below.

Getting To The Trailhead:

To Visit Glacier National Park Is To Enter A Place Where Heaven Touches Earth Affording Brief Glimpses Into The Wonders Of Creation.

Point 8479Point 8479 from the summit ridge of Mount Grinnell
Approaching Grinnell Glacier OverlookApproaching Grinnell Glacier Overlook

The "Crown of the Continent" is located in northwestern Montana and shares a border with Waterton International Peace Park in Canada. Driving the world renowned Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass is a great way to see Glacier. Typically Logan Pass and Going-to-the-Sun Road opens near the end of June but it can be as early as the middle of June and as late as after July Fourth.

Driving Instructions from West Glacier, Montana: Drive up the Going-to-the-Sun Highway and park at either The Loop Trailhead or drive to the Weeping Wall and follow the climber’s trail to where it joins the Highline Trail. The Weeping Wall option saves about 1,000 feet of elevation but feels longer on the return than hiking down hill 2,000 feet to The Loop.

Driving Instructions from St. Mary’s, Montana: Drive over Logan Pass to either The Weeping Wall or The Loop. The Grinnell Glacier Overlook is also accessible from Logan Pass via The Highline Trail but it is nearly 7 miles on relatively easy miles.

Go to Road Information for road conditions, road repairs and delay schedules as well as estimated opening information.

Red Tape:

Swiftcurrent MountainThe Swiftcurrent Valley

For current National Park Entrance Fees: Current Park Information. There is no entrance station at Cut bank Creek so there is no fee to enter the park.

Regulations change from year to year and generally the “I didn’t know about that” excuse does not work as the Federal Government governs the park. Read the rules and regulations and be informed.

For all the Rules and Regulations governing Glacier National Park look at the Rules and Regulations. It’s always a great idea to read these rules before planning a trip to Glacier National Park.

You do not have to register for day climbs in Glacier National Park but it is recommended. If choosing to register stop at the Logan Pass Visitor’s Center and speak to the ranger there.

Backcountry travel regulations can be found at Backcountry Travel. There is also information from the Park Service on Mountain Climbing in Glacier.

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 your bear deterrent, 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.

Route Information:

The ledgeOn The Ledge
Point 8479Point 8479

The essential of the route are broken down into two sections.

On Trail Directions:

Hike along the Highline Trail (from The Loop and Granite Park Chalet or from the south along the Highline Trail) to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook and follow that trail to the overlook. Getting there is enough for most people but this is where the off trail route begins. It is a steep .6 miles up the trail to the overlook. Keep an eye out for the bighorn sheep that frequent this area. This is also a popular hang out for grizzlies as well.

Off Trail Route:

From the Overlook climb north along the ridge toward a large looming cliff. Look to the right and see a ledge that extends to the right. Look for cairns that take off to the right along vegetation covered ledge. While hiking along this ledge look for an easy way to scramble through the cliffs to the scree and talus field above.

After reaching the talus and scree slope climb to the right to the top of the ridge and traverse along it to the summit of Point 8479.

Its that easy.

Return Options:

It would seem that it is possible to descend to the saddle between Point 8479 and Mount Grinnell or into the Swiftcurrent Glacier Basin. The crew I was with explored safe options and did not locate any. Take a rope and climbing gear if this is part of the itinerary.

So just relax and realize that the spending a day in Glacier National Park is less about reaching a named destination and more about experiencing the fabulous views from Point 8479.

When To Climb:

Descending from Point 8479Descending Back To Grinnell Glacier Overlook
This route could be climbed any time the Highline Trail is open.

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.


Click for the latest Highline Trail weather forecast.

Gear and Camping:

Crucial gear includes: bear deterrent spray, water, sturdy footwear and a camera.

There is a backcountry campground at Granite Park for Back Country Camping Information.

Consider staying at the Granite Park Chalet.

Other options for camping include:

GNP Campground Information, USFS Campgrounds, Camping on the Blackfeet Reservation or East Glacier Campgrounds


Glacier National Park in Pictures
Glacier Mountaineering Society
Visit Montana



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