Rising Wolf Mountain

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 48.49600°N / 113.415°W
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Summer, Fall
Additional Information Elevation: 9513 ft / 2900 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Rising Wolf and Two Medicine

Mahkuyi-opuahsin, the Blackfeet name of this remarkable peak, means "The way the wolf gets up," and on a warm summer day immediately brings to mind wonderful and
Rising Wolf, from Grizzly MountainThe true summit
imaginative visualizations at the unfolding of a lazy wolf as it comes slowly to its feet.
Rising Wolf MountainNot a "rising wolf" I'd care to meet!
This is one of the first (and most immediately dominating) mountains seen when entering the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park, and that misshapen and lumpy eastern face, as it gives rise to the massive peak behind (the true summit is not visible from the eastern approach) is indeed evocative. I have also seen the mountain on a grim winter day, when its countenance can only be described as emotionally chilling. Rising Wolf is a chameleon,
Rising Wolf from Spot MountainBoth the false and true summits...
and I most assuredly would not have wished to be confronted by that particular wolf—disturbed, and no doubt cranky—rising through the gloom! The name is memorable, and coming as it does out of an imaginative perception of nature, makes of the mountain something drawing you in. "Rising Wolf"...the words flow gracefully in your mind, a large mountain of real character...beckoning, calling....
Rising Wolf Mountain at TwilightLower Two Medicine Lake and Rising Wolf at Twilight

First view of the true summit...First view of the actual summit

The Blackfeet Indians considered the Two Medicine area "The Backbone of the World," and in addition to the normal usage for sustenance, used this portion of what would eventually become Glacier National Park for vision quests. The story of how the area came about its name is taken from the writings of James Willard Schultz,
A pastel peek at Rising Wolf...The mountain in pastel
who was adopted into the Blackfeet tribe, and had an Indian wife: The Blackfeet Confederacy was divided into three tribes: the Pikuni, the Bloods, and the Blackfeet. In the spring each tribe held an Okan'—a religious ceremony—and it just so happened that one year two of the tribes, the Pikunis and Bloods, happened to hold theirs at the same time and in the same place.
Rising Wolf SummitThe summit
After that the river was called Two Medicine Lodges, or Two Visions Lodges River—later shortened to Two Medicine. With its abundance of forested lakes, seemingly endless combinations of cliffs, walls, spires, towering peaks, all coming out of some of the area's most brightly-colored rock, it is not at all difficult to see in this place—and to attach to it—a special significance!

No place in Glacier National Park can be said to be truly unknown, and of course that is not the case here,
Heading onto the long ridge....Rising Wolf summit, from ridge to Flinsch Peak
but this "Backbone of the World" is indeed more subdued than the more heavily visited areas of Lake McDonald, Logan Pass, Saint Mary, or Many Glacier—it is just that it lies a bit outside the main traffic flow. There are good trails throughout (with proper timing you can even take a ferry from one end of Two Medicine Lake to the other, which, depending on your destination and route, will shorten the distance spent walking from one to three miles each way—the ferry is $5 one way, $10 round trip), giving many choices for doing as much or little legwork as desired, from easy day hikes to major multi-day treks into other sections of the park. Or you can simply stay in the Two Medicine area and climb mountains. Such as the big one which is the subject of this page.

A rather unusual perspective...Almost like looking into a cut-away model!

Ascent Options—and an Important Warning

South and west from Rising WolfThe view south and west from Rising Wolf

Rising Wolf s south face....Scrambling up the south face

Rising Wolf has an elevation of 9513 feet, is the Two Medicine area's highest summit, and climbers should plan on at least a 12-hour day. Two of the three routes up this mountain involve cliffs, where care and patience must be taken in route finding, but with the exception of the East Face route, it is not an unusually difficult Glacier Park mountain to ascend.
Mount EllsworthGraceful Mount Ellsworth
Even the East Face ascent—most demanding of the routes—is not technical, but must be singled out because it involves a lot of cliff work, and the nature of these cliffs is such that a descent is extremely dangerous; the cliffs are hidden by
A wild mishmash of ridges and mountains!Canyons and ridges and mountains, and it's all a mishmash!
forest and vegetation, and cannot be seen until one is directly upon them. All the writings I have seen discussing this mountain say the same thing: DON'T descend via the all-too-tempting east face! There have been fatalities, and it is simply not worth the risk. The East Face is a
In-your-face Mount Rockwell....Nothing subtle here!
fun and challenging ascent, but even though it looks to be a time-saver, don't retrace your steps; plan your day for another way off the mountain.

The "easiest," and most straightforward route is via the Dawson Pass trail to the ridge between Flinsch Peak and Rising Wolf (between 7 and 8 miles from the Two Medicine Campground, which is the trail head), then a lengthy walk to the summit. From the summit of Rising Wolf follow the ridge further east, toward the false summits seen when viewing the mountain from the east, but rather than continuing to the dangerous cliff descent mentioned above, the south face of the mountain is taken, which eventually has you rejoining the Dawson Pass trail approximately two miles from your starting point.
Lone Walker & the Cloudcroft PeaksLone Walker & the Cloudcroft Peaks
Our ascent was to do this route in reverse, and it is described in detail in the "Route" section by Aaron Johnson. In all honesty it probably is more time consuming than approaching via the Dawson Pass trail, simply because there is an interesting variety of terrain to work through—gullys, minor bouldering, cliffs, and scree (although the last is not excessive)—which would be quicker on a descent.

A Great Trio of Peaks!A great trio of peaks!

Mount Doody, Cloudcroft PeaksMount Doody, the Cloudcroft Peaks

The best thing about any of the options on this mountain is that of the possibility of also summiting Flinsch Peak, which is separated from Rising Wolf by a long ridge with extremely fine views. But be aware that this option will take an already lengthy day and make it more so by at least two or three hours—don't forget your headlamps!—and the additional elevation gain from Dawson Pass to the Flinsch summit is over 1600 feet
Flinsch, Stimson, MorganFlinsch, Stimson, Morgan
(somewhat less—about 1200 feet—if Flinsch is climbed from the ridge connecting the two mountains), and doing both summits will have you doing in excess of 6000 feet elevation gain. But also be aware that Flinsch is an absolutely wonderful horn of a peak, and once seen, the lure to do the ascent will be substantial! (Our group bypassed the Flinsch option, and I can attest to the fact that it most definitely was a difficult decision!)

Volume Two of Climb Glacier National Park has more details on Rising Wolf Mountain and the West Face and Dawson Pass Routes. It can be ordered at Climb Glacier National Park.

A last look....A last look at what we accomplished....

Sometimes more than others, what is seen on top won't leave your mind:

Every once in a while....North, from Rising Wolf...(!)

Blackfeet Indian Reservation

It is impossible, and not desired, to separate the Native Peoples from either the history or current life of this area. The Blackfeet Indian Reservation is immediately east of Glacier National Park—tribal headquarters are in Browning—and their official website is a great source of information on trip planning, and the cultural history of the region. Do check it out!

Getting There

From the north, take Hwy 89 south from Saint Mary, turning on Hwy 49—a paved road, but very winding and slow going; relax, enjoy the wonderful views!—for approximately eight miles until the Two Medicine turnoff, then it is seven easy miles to the campground, ranger station, store, boat dock, and ample parking. From the south, take Hwy 2 to East Glacier, and in town turn on Hwy 49, head north out of town four miles, to the Two Medicine road.

Standard Precautionary Note: All GNP roads are closed in winter, with Going-to-the-Sun Road (the major route through the park; its eastern terminus is at Saint Mary) sometimes not opening until July (average opening is second week in June; earliest opening ever is May 16, 1987, with the second earliest being May 22, 2005). Don't head out early in the year (i.e., June/early July) without checking the status of these roads—it is not unusual to have repeated, sometimes lengthy, road closures due to storms, avalanches, rock slides, or all three! The same holds true for late in the year; weather changes dramatically, beginning usually around the end of August, with road closures normally becoming more and more frequent through the month of September (although don't shy away from going, there can also be very nice—albeit cool or cold—days of Indian Summer throughout this time frame; plus the park is relatively free of people after Labor Day). The following links are pretty much self-explanatory, and provide all sorts of useful and interesting information:

Current GNP Road Status

Map of Waterton/Glacier International Peace Park
(Note that clicking on the image after it loads brings up a larger version, making it MUCH easier to read.)

And finally, click here for current information, as well as easy access to some
interesting photos showing the Plowing of Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The Red Tape, Wildlife, & Cautions Section

In case you need it: A couple reminders that this GNP/Northern Rockies area has a LOT of wildlife.

No permits required, but you must pay a park entry fee, which is $25 for one week, or $35 for an annual pass. Registration for day climbs in Glacier National Park is recommended, but not mandatory. Probably anyone prone to climbing in this part of the country already knows this, but the Northern Rockies are full of wildlife. Always be aware, and don't do anything stupid, like—for example—feed the bears, think that a mountain lion is even remotely related to your pet cat, or run up to a moose (moose are quite unpredictable, irritable, and very dangerous). And never, ever, EVER forget you're in grizzly country; they insist on being left alone—disagreement on that point is not an argument you'll win! Bear spray and noise should be part of every GNP foray you make into the back country. Black bears will be found in the forests, grizzlies commonly venture onto the above-timberline tundra, sometimes, when in pursuit of such delicacies as ladybugs or cutworm moth larva, even to the summits! Also note that improperly stored food in park campgrounds (i.e., scraps left around the table or campfire, or edibles in your tent rather than your car) will subject you to a $50 fine. If you wander off, leaving your pack unattended, and there is food in it which attracts the attention of, for example, a bear, it is also a fine. Folks, the Park Service is serious about not providing human food access to the critters!

When to Climb, & Climbing Considerations

From late June/early July (during this time frame expect LOTS of snow in the high elevations) to early fall, depending on snow conditions. Traditional climbing season in the Northern Rockies is July, August, and September—with September weather becoming progressively colder and more unstable (sometimes dramatically so: PAY ATTENTION!) as the month progresses—but does of course vary from year to year. There are occasional winter climbs in the park, but not often, and then only by well-equipped, area-wise, extremely competent individuals. Basically, most of GNP is inaccessable through the winter, and avalanche danger, to put it mildly, is extreme almost everywhere.


Because of the nature of the rock, there are special considerations regarding climbing in Glacier National Park, and grading systems unique to the park have been developed by both J. Gordon Edwards and the Glacier Mountaineering Society. Anyone doing more than just "trail" hiking in this part of the Rockies should read the excellent and important information put together by Fred and Moni Spicker. Much—if not most—of the rock in GNP is sedimentary and rotten, and you need to know about it: Glacier National Park Rock & Grading Systems.

Camping & Lodging

The Two Medicine Campground ($20 per day—no reservations, first come first served basis) is close to the area trailheads, as well as the ferry. There are numerous campgrounds available within Glacier National Park, of which only Fish Creek and Saint Mary take reservations (not required, but probably a good idea during the peak summer tourist period). There are also many campgrounds, as well as motels, just outside the park on both the west and east sides.

Click here for General Camping Information, and click here for Current Site Availability in specific campgrounds.

In addition, there is a great deal available in the way of accomodations and camping on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

The community of East Glacier Park is within easy driving of Two Medicine Lake (approximately 20 minutes), and has several restaurants and motels, as well as an RV park which also caters to tenters. And if your credit card is gathering dust, East Glacier Park is also home to the (really nice) Glacier Park Lodge.

Also, and for those so inclined...GNP does have Backcountry Campsites throughout the park, including the Two Medicine area. Some of these sites can be reserved; others are on a first come basis. Anyone doing extensive, several day, remote hiking/climbing would be well advised to check this out.

Current Park Conditions

Weather page—an overview, plus current conditions and forecast

This is the New NPS Web Cam Page.

External Links/Additional Information/Items of Related Interest

In Tribute

On March 1, 2011, Vernon Garner, Saintgrizzly, left us after losing a bold, inspiring fight against pancreatic cancer. Or maybe he won, for he is at last free of his pain and has "shuffle[d] off this mortal coil."

Vernon was an important contributor on SummitPost, but beyond merely making good, informative pages, he actually inspired many who read his work. No one put more work into his or her pages than Vernon did, and many of those pages, especially those related to Glacier National Park, the place he loved above all others, are works of art in both the writing and layout. More than one person has wanted to visit Glacier or go back to Glacier largely due to what he shared about that magnificent place.

Many people on SP counted Vernon among their friends, and many more saw him as one of the best, one of those who exemplified the spirit of this site. He was one of the best of us, he will be missed, and he will not be forgotten.

As a tribute to him, Vernon's pages will remain in his name. Any member who sees a need for an addition or correction should please contact site management via the "Send PM to the Elves" feature.

Rest well and climb on, Vernon.



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.

Recent Forum Posts
Current Time: 2:02 am
Thread Time