Michigan Glacier

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 45.27600°N / 109.8151°W
Additional Information Route Type: Basic snow/glacier climb, Scramble to summit
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: 3rd class snow/rock
Sign the Climber's Log


Same approach as Northeast ridge.
Hike over the Stillwater plateau from the "golfcourse" trailhead. Descend to the saddle (~11,100')at the bottom of the Northwest ridge of Mt. Wood. Descend steep and crumbly rock (class 3, some people might prefer a rapel in a couple of places because the rock is so sketchy) down to the head of the West Fishtail Lakes basin (10,400'). Do bring your axe and crampons with you if you choose descend from the Stillwater plateau into this basin expecially in the early season. It is steep and icy.

You may also approach from the Chrome lake area up the West Fishtail Creek - this may be easier and safer than crossing the Stillwater Plateau which is 4 very exposed miles at above 10,000 feet with nothing but your ice axe to attract electricity. I have never hiked in a place that put me at more risk for lightning strikes than the Stillwater plateau simply because of the time it took to cross it. Even starting at 1am from the golf course will put you at risk for electrical storms on your way back to the trailhead.

In all honesty, the easier and better route is from Mystic lake. My Knees were extremely swollen and painful after this day and my pride was battered in by how long the day was.

Route Description

From the head of the West Fishtail basin there are three obvious permanent snowfields with the one to the East being the largest and the one to the West being the smallest. The East snowfield has no name, looks like the state of Michigan flipped over on its back as viewed from the Stillwater plateau, so I affectionately called it the "Michigan Glacier" that fine July day.

Ascend any way you choose to the base (11,300') of the Michigan Glacier over snow and rock. With crampons and axes ascend to the Southwest up the "mitt" as opposed the the Southeast up the "thumb". The climb (1200' vertical) starts off not-so-steep, but by the time you are about 900 feet up you will wish for three things as I did; 1. rope 2. two axes instead of one 3. someone to climb with. I'm an awful judge of slope but I can tell you that the slope probably slides often. Guessing, I would say that the very top of the climb is 45+ degrees.

Along the glacier I was constantly wondering if and when I would run into a crevasse, but only found one shallow crack about 2/3 of the way up that spanned the entire slope - it was 3 feet wide in the center and I was able to, with some effort, get accross. I'm sure there were others but I got lucky and my feet didn't break through the thick ,icy layer of July snow in any other places. Given the size of the glacier, one would think there were other minor crevasses.

Once you reach the top, its a scramble to either the West or East summit.

The "Thumb" portion of this climb would be a kick, its steep and appears to have some technical climbing at the top past the ice and snow in a few pitches.

The Middle snowfield is described in Thomas Taurinos new book "Select Peaks of the Greater Yellowstone". Apparently there are a number of technical pitches on good rock between the top of the middle snowfield and the summit.

Essential Gear

Skiis would be great for a nice ride down the Michigan glacier.

Bring crampons, two axes a rope and pickets for protection on the snow. Nothing else, aside from what anyone would normally bring on a long climb in the rockies, is necessary.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.


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