Numa Peak is a rarely visited mountain in the remote NW corner of the park situated midway up the western shores of Bowman Lake. It is situated almost directly across the lake from the more well known Rainbow Peak and is about 2 miles north of Numa Lookout which is on the same ridgeline forming the eastern boundary of the Akakola creek valley. It has the advantage of easier access than Rainbow Pk since you can hike directly to the start of the climb without need of a boat. It is part of the northern Livingston range of mountains. It can best be reached by taking the N Fork road to Polebridge and entering the park at that point and driving to the Bowman Lake campground which is about 4,030’ elevation. Views from the summit are superb with Kintla and Kinnerly to the north, Rainbow and Carter across the lake to the east, Reuter to the west and most of the wild and almost never visited Livingston Range stretching out to the southeast. The climb is best attempted in the late summer or early fall since the eastern flanks are likely to well guarded with snow if you go much earlier. Several years ago a GMS climb encountered much difficulty transitioning from the snow/ice onto the cliffs for the climb. This is a full day climb with about 16 miles of travel roundtrip and about 5,000' vertical gain.
The most practical approach is starting in Columbia Falls and driving up the North Fork road to Polebridge where a bridge crosses the N Fork of the Flathead River and there is a park entrance station. After entering, take the rough road about 6 miles to Bowman Lake.
Numa Peak(photo by Kyledod)
Parking your car near the trailhead, you then hike up the trail on the western side of the lake for about six miles to a point across the lake from a creek draining the basin south of Rainbow Peak on the opposite shore. There is a similar drainage coming down from Numa Peak and following this drainage along the northern side will take you up to the South Face Route described in Gordon Edward’s Climbers Guide to Glacier National Park Guidebook: A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park
South Face Route:
From Bowman Lake trailhead, take the trail to Brown Pass for about 6 miles until you are across the lake from the stream draining the south side of Rainbow Peak. There is a similar creek on your left coming down from Numa. Follow this drainage on the north(right) side, up several thousand feet to a large bowl beneath the SE face of Numa. The bushwhack is quite bad in parts of this ascent, but should be less if you move a bit further north while climbing.
Starting up the drainage gully
When you reach the bowl, cross over to the mountain and work up a grassy ramp near the center of the SE face that leads up the face 600' to 900'. Look for a distinctive couloir above and to the left and follow it up staying on the right side where difficulty is met. The couloir goes several hundred yards and then you can move onto the south face and pick your route to the summit which is on the northeastern portion of the jagged summit block. As you climb the steep couloir toward the summit block, you will top out at a slight saddle. From there you head north (right) to the true summit. I headed the opposite direction initially and upon reaching the south summit, looked around and discovered that my climb was still a work in progress!!
Summit view south
National Park entrance fees apply in Glacier National Park. See Entrance Fees
There is a nice campground at Bowman Lake where the trailhead for this climb is located.
GNP Campground Status and Infor
External Links and Guidebooks Glacier Mountaineers Society
Guidebook: A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park
Trail guide: Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks