Considering the journey involved to get there, I didn't think this peak would ever show up on SP. I'm glad to see it. Ever since I looked through the Glacier Panorama book years ago, I've had a yearning to get to Vulture Peak and Gyrfalcon Lake, and whenever I see the peak from trails and summits, I dream.
I think Gyrfalcon Lake is worth the trip on its own. Trapper and the Honey-Muhn lake basin below it are stunning. Vulture is really just a quick side trip once you're there. Nahsukin and Redhorn make a great day as well! I'd recommend 6 days total starting and ending at Packer's.
I've been a lover of Glacier Park (from a distance) for many years, and the Vulture Peak area looks like such an appealing place to go to, pretty much in my opinion the culmination of Glacier wilderness. In fact, just about a week ago when I was showcasing the area on my Facebook page (because I'm planning to move to Missoula next year and am showing others how beautiful Montana is), I devoted a section to Vulture Peak and Gyrfalcon Lake, writing the following:
"Here's the place in Glacier National Park I want to go to the most, probably one of the spots the fewest people go to: Gyrfalcon Lake, which lies at 7,200 feet on the eastern slopes of 9,638' Vulture Peak, one of Glacier's tallest summits in the Livingston Range on the park's western side. The whole area is amazingly scenic and the ridges are rather open, which makes some high-country trekking very enjoyable (as long as the weather holds!).
The catch, though, is the approach: it seems to take NO LESS than 3 DAYS just to get to Gyrfalcon Lake from any direction, thanks to the long approach, the bushwhacking required to get out of the heavily vegetated valleys, and the possibility of inclement weather making things rough (Not to mention all the grizzly bears who don't fear humans!).
But once you finally make it to the lakeshore, and then prepare to scale Vulture Peak, you know that you're in one of the most amazing places in the USA....."
Hope this is a true description, awhite28! I know it's a serious undertaking which may take years to get prepared for (I need to get better backpacking equipment and more climbing experience), but I'm looking forward to trying it out in due time!
Thanks for showing us this remote summit!
That area is spectacular and true wilderness. If you're in solid shape you could make it into the Gyrfalcon area in 2 days. 2 1/2 would be more comfortable, and you could use the other half of that day to climb Vulture, but it shouldn't take 3 if you navigate well. You can do a day over Flattop and West Flattop, then another day into Gyrfalcon. On the way out it took us a day to go from Gyrfalcon to Kootenai Pass.
The West Flattop route really isn't bad in terms of bushwhacking. There is a bit when ascending West Flattop from Kootenai Pass, but other than that, it's negligible by park standards. Logging or Waterton would be a much different story though.
Good luck in your preparations for the trip and I hope the weather holds!
Thanks for the pointers. In my eyes, such a trip wouldn't only be to Vulture, but also to Trapper, Nahsukin, Redhorn, that general area, etc - as you alluded to on your page. Assuming I can get that much time (and a proper weather window), a week would be a fantastic way to go about it. Flattop is indeed my preferred way over there, looks very straightforward by Glacier standards in terms of cross-country travel. I've looked over the possibility of making a grand traverse by continuing to Jefferson Pass and then out from there, but it's quite a conundrum to get from there down to the trails in the valleys, so the most sensible thing to do is probably to return over Flattop.
I'm not going to do this trip anytime soon, I should say. I need a lot more experience in how to climb and scramble, plus being able to backpack across cross-country terrain and all that (I haven't scrambled any peaks in Glacier at all so will have to do many peaks before Vulture to get a feel for Glacier's terrain, which is very different from the Sierra Nevada, etc, where I've climbed).
So it'll be a few years before I get around to Vulture and Gyrfalcon, assuming my move to Montana from California goes as planned for 2013. But it's definitely a worthy goal to shoot for!
A few friends of mine have done the Thunderbird/Guardhouse/Jefferson Pass traverse - It sounds much more sketchy than fun. Another friend split off from our group at Redhorn, and went towards Kootenai Peak to Bench Lake. She bushwhacked back to Goat Haunt from there but said it wasn't fun.
Good luck with the move and gaining more experience. Watch out, Montana will get her hooks in you...
Attempted Vulture at the end of August 2012 from Packer's Roost. About an hour into the trip, we located a series of flags along what appeared to be the Old McDonald Creek Trail. We planned to follow this trail as long as we could towards Trapper Peak with hopes of camping in the lake basin to the west. Unfortunately, soon after we started bushwhacking a member of our party lost a sleeping bag in the burnt forest. We opted to turn around, and and switched our permit to much easier Harrison Lake (a wonderful destination!) instead! Hope to go back next year.
I know of two groups who have been able to make it all the way to Gyrfalcon from Packer's Roost in a long day, but sounds like a VERY challenging trip.
Great page for an exceptionally wild and beautiful mountain/area.
I think I heard about that actually... you must have been hiking with Heidi, eh?
Sorry I never responded to this! Yes, indeed Heidi S was on our attempt in late August 2012.
Great page. Badass mountain.
for wetting my appetite for other peaks. Soon I will be done with my "project" and then I can venture out on some of these more remote destinations. A great page and I really enjoyed the photos.