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[TR] TwoFer Thursday: Piegan and Pollock Mountains - Normal (Piegan) and Great Cleft (Pollock) 8/11/2011

Ian in Seattle

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Trip: TwoFer Thursday: Piegan and Pollock Mountains - Normal (Piegan) and Great Cleft (Pollock)


Date: 8/11/2011


Trip Report:

Planned this quick solo trip to Piegan and Pollock Mountains, some easy Class 2 and 3 scrambles from Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, while on vacation on Flathead Lake in western Montana. Driving to the pass takes away a lot of the approach vertical, so this hike is entirely spent above the treeline surrounded by some of the most scenic, alpine and rugged mountains.


Left very early but due to road construction on the Going-to-the-Sun highway, had to park at Logan Pass and walk down to Lunch Creek, didn't hit the trailhead until 8am. Ascended up the basin and to the right of the upper waterfall. The snow fields in the basin were still very, very firm this early in the morning. Had to wear crampons on the upper snowfield which led into what I dubbed the "Great Defile," a snow-filled couloir that led straight to the saddle between Pollock and Piegan.


From the saddle I followed the climber's path up the right (south) shoulder of Piegan, enjoying some fun Class 2 and 3 scrambles on cliffs. Made the summit around 10am. Descended and headed across the saddle to Pollock with plenty of online route details in hand. Followed an easy and obvious climber's path along the south side of Pollock, past the "false" spire and up behind the correct spire which marks the "Great Cleft," a really fun and aesthetic Class 3 scramble. The cleft is not visible from below, but once you find it hard against the spire, it makes for a tight squeeze, steep in spots (down climbing required) with a little exposure, but not requiring any ropes. The great cleft ends dramatically on top of the cliffs, and you climb up some smaller bands and then an easy scree slope to the top of Pollock (summit around 10:45am) for some great views toward Mt. Gould and Bishop's Cap to the northwest, Siyeh to the northeast, and to the south toward Logan Pass, the Mt. Reynolds horn and some big glaciated peaks beyond.


Cruised back down to the road and made Logan Pass by 12:45pm. Only passed one group of people the entire day, a four-some heading up to Pollock.


Also saw two black bears on the road, marmots, big horn sheep.




Sunrise on the photogenic Heaven's Peak, from The Loop




Walking down from Logan Pass, looking at the Lunch Creek basin from Going-to-the-Sun with Pollock Mountain looming




The Pollock Mountain summit from the basin. The snow angle in the right side foreground is the "Great Defile" which leads straight to the saddle, but it required crampons this early in the morning.




Looking up the moated, hard late season snow in "Great Defile" on crampons.




View of Piegan Mountain from the saddle.




View from the summit of Piegan back west toward the saddle, Pollock Mountain, with Bishop's Gap and the massive east face of Mount Gould on the Garden Wall




View from the Piegan summit looking south toward Logan Pass with the Reynolds matterhorn in the foreground, Mt. Jackson (?) to the left




Descending the Class 2/3 cliffs of Piegan and looking at Pollock across the saddle




Approaching the "Great Cleft" route up the south face of Pollock, it's there... The cleft is the one nearest the tower, although you can work your way up the rocks to the left then traverse over to the cleft.




View up the "Great Cleft," a great Class 3 scramble




View of Mt. Siyeh from the summit of Pollock




While descending back toward the "Great Cleft," this is a view of Piegan to the east with some of Pollock's spires in the foreground




View up Lunch Creek toward Pollock Mountain, with a big horn sheep posing nicely for a tourist like me


Gear Notes:

Helmet, ice axe, crampons

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Thanks for the Glacier TR!! I spent a summer working for the FS on the west side of the park and have many fond memories of scrambles there. It seemed like once you left the trails, you never saw a person (but often lots of bears and goats). Considering how they look from afar, I was always amazed at the summits you could reach without a rope.

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