Photo by TwaMontana
Mt Logan has some of the most fantastic views of any peak in the park. It is surrounded by great mountains and glaciers draining into lush valleys. To the south you see Mt Stimson rising some 7,000’ above the surrounding valley. To the west, along a ridgeline is Blackfoot Mtn and the great Blackfoot glacier extending for miles toward the north to the base region of Mt Jackson. The views of the peaks around Logan Pass and to the NE are also quite amazing. It is best climbed using the West Face Route which entails about 22 miles round trip (16 miles by human trail) from the Jackson Glacier overlook on the Going to the Sun Road. The climbers guide lists the elevation gained at 3,800 feet, but the raw difference from the road to the summit is about 4,000’ and you start out losing about 700’ on the trail which must be regained twice…once in each direction. Also the traverse of the Jackson Glacier basin has plenty of ups and downs across or around glacial moraines.
One approach to dealing with the long distances involved is to get a permit to camp at Gunsight Lake which is about six miles from the trailhead. This will make the summit day about 10 miles roundtrip if you spend another night at Gunsight Lake or 16 miles if you decided to head out to civilization. The climbing is not worse than Class 3 if correct routes are followed.
Mt Logan is located in the Saint Mary valley area of the park which lies east of Logan Pass. You can access the Going to the Sun Road at the park entrances at West Glacier or at St Mary and from either location you head toward the opposite end of the road until reaching the Jackson Glacier Overlook which is about 5 miles east of Logan Pass on the south side of the road.
West Face Route:
From the parking area beside the road, you start downhill on the trail that leads to Gunsight Lake and continue to the lake about six miles. At the foot of the lake you cross a footbridge and take a hikers path cutting off to the left around the northern end of Mt Jackson. This hikers path is not maintained and climbs around Mt Jackson for about 1 ½ miles to begin a traverse across the Jackson Glacier basin. It soon transitions from cross country travel with few, if any, signs of use by humans, to scrambling across/around numerous glacial moraines. You will come to the first great lateral moraine which is best passed by hiking left and down around the end. Next, you must find a suitable crossing of the main stream melting from the glacier which is usually well upstream. Another moraine must be crossed after traveling more than 100 yards and is easiest to your right where a boulder field extends furthest through the trees. Cross another stream.
Your next goal is to head for a great hump in the distance which has cliffs on its eastern end. You want to reach the eastern end of the cliffs. Walk along the east edge of a big snowfield and traverse east and cross the bottom of another snowfield. Near the east edge of this second snowfield a game trail heads up to the cliffs you are heading for.
Travel east across a couple more moraines to another stream and then angle left up yet another moraine. Cross a boulder filled brushy area and you should see a couple small lakes below you. Head for the first lake and pass it on the south shore. Mt Logan is east of you and for the next hour you work toward it.
Eventually, the last obstacle, the eastern lateral moraine, must be reached and climbed. Look for steep horizontal strips of meadow extending toward Mt Logan. Two large streams flow through this area with the largest being just west of the big moraine. This stream is crossed far above a waterfall. Hike uphill across steep meadows to the smaller stream and scramble over a ridge just beyond it.
W Face Route(Photo by Sushiman)
Past the larger stream, cross the moraine and head uphill northeast into a broad open basin leading to the pass north of Mt Logan.
From the pass head south climbing the broad scree slopes heading for a small pyramid of rock separated from the main mountain by a deep notch. Follow a goat trail around the west side of the pyramid and continue along the west side of the mountain as it slants upward toward the south. When directly west of the summit, leave the trail and scramble upward and to the left to the base of the summit cliffs. Head north below the cliffs to the upper northern corner of the summit which can be climbed with nothing worse than class 3.
Guidebook: A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park
National Park entrance fees apply in Glacier National Park. See Entrance Fees
There are many camping sites available at Glacier Park; backcountry, as well as car camping. Due to the large number of grizzly and even larger number of black bears who inhabit the area, there are strict guidelines for storage of food. Most of the backcountry campgrounds have facilities for hanging your food from cables or bearproof poles, but you need adequate lines to hoist your packs, etc 15 or 20 feet off the ground. If you are seeking an “undesignated area” camping permit, the rangers may require you to use a bear barrel to protect your food. The GNP rangers require you to view an informational video annually before you can purchase your first backcountry permit.
GNP Campground Status and Infor
Backcountry Camping Info
Backcountry Camping Sites
External Links and Guidebooks Glacier Mountaineers Society
Video of Mt Logan climb
Guidebook: A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park
Trail guide: Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks