Bearhat Mountain

July 12, 2008

Mountain height:         2647 m
Elevation gain:            823 m
Ascent time:                8:00
Descent time:              6:45

Scrambling and mountaineering with Mark.

Mark had found a picture of this beautifully aesthetic mountain in Glacier National Park, Montana, several years ago on the SummitPost website and an ascent of the peak immediately made it onto our “to-do” list. After purchasing a copy of Gordon Edwards A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park and getting some route information from Dave Stephens and Blair Piggot, the trip stood on the back burner for another few years before this weekend.

We spent the night at the pleasant Rising Sun Campground and then set out early in the morning. The trip starts at Logan Pass – the Glacier National Park equivalent to Highwood Pass in Kananaskis - a very high pass near treeline. Therefore ascents in the area require little bushwhacking and minimal elevation gains.

The scenery was absolutely spectacular from beginning to end. Gorgeous Mount Clements garnered most of our attention right at the beginning and then Bearhat Mountain above Hidden Lake came into view – what a magnificent sight! 

The ascent was fantastic. Lower down there enough remaining snow to make for some amazing almost glacier-like scenery, as melting carved the snow into beautiful shapes. Once onto the rock, the route-finding and scrambling were outstanding. As well, the views of the surrounding area improved dramatically; especially those towards the “Matterhorn” of Glacier National Park - Mount Reynolds. We took our time ascending the rock, choosing a few more challenging lines.

Right before the summit ridge a shapely cornice barred the way, but was easily circumvented. From there it was a short walk to the north summit, where another phenomenal view awaited.

The traverse to the south (true) summit was far more challenging and time-consuming than expected. It didn’t look like much from the south summit, but involved exposed downclimbing, traversing narrow ledges and much route-finding. It took us over 1.5 hours to traverse a distance of not more than 700 horizontal metres. The view from the true summit was very similar to that of the north summit.

As has become our style, we decided to try an alternate descent route (not something that I’m bragging about!). This started off great. We lost huge amounts of elevation on the southeast side of the peak and it looked like we would make it to the south side of Hidden Lake, where an easy hike would finish the day. That was until a huge cliff band appeared in front of us. Getting down from this point was a long, arduous, and challenging exercise in route-finding and employing some rather unorthodox mountaineering techniques. Once down to Hidden Lake it was an easy walk back to the car, though both of us were physically and mentally exhausted from the tricky and involved descent.

Still, a thoroughly outstanding day on a wonderful mountain, in a beautiful area. Hopefully the first of many trips to Glacier National Park. 


Mount Clements

Same as above

A full view of Bearhat Mountain; the huge gully that's splits the face in two is called the "Great Rift"

A partial panorama; the little black dot on the far right is me

Mark and Bearhat

Bearhat reflected in Hidden Lake

Cramponing up the snow with the "Great Rift" at the right

Mark explores the glacier-like snow scenery

Same as above

Same as above

On an uplift of snow; the peak at the left is the "Matterhorn" of GNP - Mount Reynolds

More cool snow

The ascent gully to get to the rock

Mark comes up

More cool snow

The steeper upper snow slopes; Mount Clements to the right

Yet more cool snow!

Onto the rock, with an interesting cloud to the right

Mark ascends typical terrain

Taking a break to view the magnificent surroundings

Mark atop a large pinnacle

More typical scrambling

Mark climbs a chimney

Remaining snow adds a little challenge in places

Mark leads us around the cornice lining the ridge

My turn

A closer look at gorgeous Mount Reynolds

On the summit ridge

Hidden Lake and Mount Reynolds

Mark at the north summit

Mark, the cornice, and a great view

Same as above

Heading over to the south (true) summit

The tricky downclimbing starts

Typical downclimbing on the traverse

Same as above

More downclimbing and more great scenery

Traversing narrow ledges

At the true summit

Same as above

Mount Reynolds again - definitely one of the most photogenic mountains we've ever seen 

Mark and the summit cairn

Taking a break on descent

Mount Reynolds, as seen from near Hidden Lake