Circuit of Campbell, Shaheeya, and Olson
Route used on Campbell
Looking for new mountains that could be climbed in a daytrip in Glacier National Park, I decided to drive to the north central section of the park by the Canadian border. The afternoon of August 12, 2002, I headed from Whitefish through the park and up the Chief Mountain highway to Waterton National Park in Canada. There I got a campsite and put up my tent to rest for a big day the following morning.
The weather was perfect on the 13th and I started out on the Waterton Lake trail which runs about 8.5 miles around the western shore of the lake to Goat Haunt. After 4 or 5 miles you reach the boundary line and enter into the United States near Boundary creek. There you can see the swath cut through the trees along the boundary line and there are several markers and a small boat dock for allowing tourists to step ashore by the boundary line.
International boundary Canada on left
Having studied my USGS Porcupine Ridge Quadrangle map for clues on how to approach this climb, I followed the trail about another ½ mile past the border looking for a reasonable location to strike out toward the peak which is west of the trail. I had an exciting moment near the border when something large began moving through the brush near me. I grabbed my bear spray instead of the camera half expecting a moose from the noise it caused but it was a nice looking adult black bear which took off into the woods as soon as it realized I was there.
My climb quickly became difficult due to the density of the bushwhack along the flanks of Campbell mountain. Soon I was drenched in sweat from the effort and this continued for maybe an hour before I was able to get above tree line. After this, the rest of the trip was reasonably typical of mountain climbing in Glacier. I alternated between scree slopes and moderate cliffs made up of broken ledges. You can pick your routes to avoid anything worse than class 3 scrambling with a little care.
After several hours I had gained nearly 4,000’ of elevation and reached a false summit which was disappointing, but which had great views back to Waterton townsite.
Waterton townsite from Campbell Mtn
From there I followed a ridge SW nearly a mile to the true summit which is 8,245’ on my topo map.
False summit from true summit of Campbell Mtn
At this point, I had done the hard work of the trip and studied the ridge line that led over to Shaheeya Peak. The ridge is nearly 2 miles long running SW and you lose about 1,000’ gradually before climbing about 850’ to the top of the peak.
Shaheeya Pk from Campbell (note the ridge to the peak)
It is a pleasant stroll across open terrain with a real sense of wildness and it is probably visited one or two times in a decade.
I was feeling fatigue by the time I reached the summit of Shaheeya, but there was plenty of daylight remaining so it was time to head over to climb Olson Mountain before heading back to Waterton. One unusual thing struck me…I had not seen any animals other than the bear. There were signs of goat trails, but they did not make an appearance. By this time, I was getting dehydrated, so made a slight detour down to Shaheeya lake to get some water. The lake was beautiful and sits above 7,000’ in elevation. I drank large quantities of the ice cold water and refilled my water bottles.
My greatest concern at this point was finding a route back off of Olson mountain. I did not want to try to get back to the area I had fought through while climbing Campbell. That would have involved losing and regaining significant elevation with the promise of more bushwhacking. From the summit of Olson, I thought there was a good chance of getting down toward the SW in the direction of Lake Janet where I could pick up the Boulder Pass trail back toward Goat Haunt and connect with the Waterton Lake trail back to my camp.
This plan was successful in large part with the exception of one significant occurrence. As I worked my down unfamiliar terrain trying to avoid cliffs which would be too difficult to down climb, I eventually ended up in a drainage system. It was letting me work my way down alternately on either the east or west sides until I came to one dry fall that looked like it needed to be taken in the center.
There was a 20’ drop which looked worse from above…not anything you would want to drop off. At the base was a nice flat area so a continuing tumble was not likely. As I started down, there was a knob of rock near the extent of my reach with a stretched leg. I had good holds under both of my palms and reached onto the rock. As I started to weight it, the hold broke off! Facing out, I was not going to take a drop willingly and I used every bit of strength that could be summoned to pull myself back up. I felt something give in my shoulder, but still got back up. It turned out to be rotator cuff damage which made sleeping uncomfortable for nearly a year after. Fortunately, I found another way past that last cliff and was able to reach the trail with minimal brush.
I decided to hike back since there was the possibility that the last boat had already left Goat Haunt and I didn’t want to add any extra mileage or time to the day. The trip took 14 hours and I estimated that it covered about 21 miles and entailed about 7,800’ of elevation gain. I was able to add three new remote peaks to my list...Campbell, Shaheeya, and Olson. After a long shower at the campground, I enjoyed a much needed sleep before heading home in the morning.
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