Southwest Gully/Chute

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Montana, United States, North America
Route Type:
Spring, Summer, Fall
Class 1/2

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Southwest Gully/Chute
Created On: Jul 25, 2008
Last Edited On: May 26, 2009

Route Description

South Gully/Chute TopoRoute Topo
[img:441639:alignleft:small:Beginning the chute route.] Two of my climbing partners, Tater and Cougar, and I decided to try a different way up Stanton Mountain. We hiked the Trout Lake trail to where it intersects with the large gully/avalanche chute on the southwest side of the mountain.

We decided to start bushwhacking up the eastern side of the chute just inside the trees as the vegetation was not as thick, it was not as steep, and we were out of the direct morning sun. We continued up this side for several hundred feet until the terrain became markedly steeper then we dropped down into the chute. [img:441647:aligncenter:medium:Lake McDonald from the chute.][img:441642:alignleft:small:Still a long way to go!]We were almost always able to see all or part of the summit ridge as we made our way up. This was encouraging... as distances while climbing mountains are very deceiving! [img:441652:aligncenter:medium:Angle of ascent during the upper portion of the chute after the hump.][img:441653:alignright:small:View to the south west from the chute.][img:441651:alignleft:small:The hump!]The footing was pretty good in the early going. As we got higher the grass began to thin out. The terrain became steeper and a feature that you really couldn't distinguish from the beginning of the climb....a large hump...began to appear. [img:424732:aligncenter:medium:Tater and Cougar scrambling!]The climb at the hump really became a scramble from that point up to the summit ridge. We had to use clumps of grass and burned-out tree stumps as hand-holds and foot-holds to get up through the scree. Occasionally, there was an outcropping of solid rock to use for support. [img:441727:aligncenter:small:Route Topo]

Ridge and Summit Views

[img:441655:aligncenter:medium:End of the light green vegetation is the start of the bushwhack.][img:441658:aligncenter:medium:Mt. Vaught from the Stanton summit.][img:441656:aligncenter:small:Another view of Vaught from the ridge.][img:441657:alignright:small:Stanton summit!][img:441654:alignleft:small:First glimpse of Mt. Vaught from the Stanton summit ridge.]Of course, the ridge and summit views were absolutely spectacular and well worth the effort to get there! We highly recommend finding the West Ridge climber's trail for your descent as the footing going back down this route is very unstable.

Elevation at Trout Lake trail head: 3200'
Elevation at Stanton summit: 7750'
Elevation gain: 4550'


[img:441633:alignleft:small:Stanton drainage where bear encounter occurred.] I feel I would be re-miss if I didn't give a special mention to bears on this page. The following information is from my own experience and that of others. Being new to Northwest Montana this year I was curious where I would have to go to see bears. Almost everyone said to go to the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park and you will almost surely see grizzlies. Well, you don't have to go to Many Glacier to see grizzlies!

On our second attempt of Stanton in mid-July our party of three was hiking up the Trout Lake trail. Two of us carry bear spray and we make loud noises at regular intervals along the trail as we hike. Part of the Trout Lake Trail parallels the drainage on the south side of the mountain for a ways. There is a large embankment that separates the trail from the creek and the foliage is thick in this area. As we hiked on this part of the trail I heard loud crashing and snapping of large saplings to my left on the embankment. A grizzly topped the embankment and kept coming down toward the trail and would've intersected it about 20 yards ahead of us. Realizing that he had not heard our loud clapping due to the embankment and the sound of the water, I yelled, "Bear!" and whipped out my bear spray and flipped off the safety, instructing Tater to do the same. The bear stopped in his tracks but his head was behind a couple of trees so I don't think he saw us. It wasn't huge...maybe 200 or 250 pounds...probably a sub-adult grizzly. I'm convinced it was a grizzly due to the coloration being identical to that of the mounted grizzly located in the Fish, Wildlife & Parks office on Meridian Street in Kalispell.

Anyway, we decided to calmly but firmly tell it to leave the area. All three of us did this and it slowly turned around and backtracked up the embankment but then turned and walked down the top of the embankment until even with us and then stopped and looked at us. It studied us momentarily and then slowly ambled away.

What a priviledge to see such a fantastic animal that close! Unfortunately, I was very quick on the draw with the bear spray but never got my camera out of my pocket. As I stood there I wondered how it would react to the snap of a shutter or a flash and decided not to find out.

We had also seen fresh bear scat on our previous attempt of Stanton very near this same area.

Other SP members have had experiences in this area. See the Mt. Vaught page. I would also suggest reading the book Night of the Grizzlies by Jack Olsen. He chronicles the events leading up to the deadly maulings of two different campers by two different grizzlies in Glacier National Park on the same night in 1967. One of those attacks occurred at Trout Lake. Read this chilling excerpt.



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Michael Hoyt

Michael Hoyt - Aug 13, 2010 11:00 pm - Hasn't voted

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Southwest Gully/Chute

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