Piegan Mountain, Pollock Mountain, and Bishop’s Cap 

July 19, 2008

Mountain height:      
    Piegan                     2810 m
    Pollock                    2801 m
    Bishop’s Cap           2782 m

Total elevation gain:    approx. 1300 m
Roundtrip time:           11:15

Scrambling with Mark.

I guess I wasn’t kidding when I said of last week’s amazing excursion up Bearhat Mountain, “Hopefully the first of many trips to Glacier National Park.” Like Bearhat, a SummitPost photo of Bishop’s Cap had caught Mark’s eye several years earlier and that was the objective for the day. However, after reading Fred Spicker’s informative SummitPost page on Pollock Mountain, we added Pollock and possibly Piegan Mountain to the list. The route description in A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park of Pollock’s “Great Cleft route” sounded very intriguing and so we started up Lunch Creek towards Pollock.

Picking the line of least resistance actually brought us to a col between Piegan Mountain’s true summit and a lower outlier to the southeast, not to the Pollock/Piegan col (I guess we’d be ascending Piegan after all). We quickly ran over to the summit of the outlier, enjoying a superb view of Piegan’s north face and the Piegan Glacier below. Turning back, the true summit of Piegan was easily reached in short order. The summit view was excellent, especially towards the pleasing form of Mount Siyeh – one of seven mountains in GNP that exceed 10,000 feet in elevation.

The fun part of the day started at the “Great Cleft” of Pollock Mountain. An impressive and very large “finger” of rock marked the start of the scrambling. After a little searching around, we found “The Cleft” – a distinct and very narrow gully with vertical walls on each side. It magically leads almost to the summit of Pollock. We decided to rope up here, but in retrospect it was probably unnecessary. Mark led the ascent and very quickly was at the top.

We took in another terrific summit panorama, highlighted by the striking ridge between Pollock and Bishop’s Cap, with Mount Gould beyond, before setting off towards the original objective of the day – Bishop’s Cap.

This part of the trip was definitely the highlight. The scenery en route to the Cap was outstanding. Approaching the objective, the formation looked more like Dracula’s castle than a Bishop’s Cap. The near vertical east face of the mountain (called the Garden Wall) was also extremely impressive. Mark led the entire ascent (described as 3rd and 4th class climbing) and did so with ease. Again, we roped up but were able to downclimb the Cap on descent without using the rope (though I’m glad I wore my approach shoes). With the SummitPost description, the ascent was fairly straightforward and the 4th class climbing sections were all very short.

We arrived at the 3rd and final summit of the day in great spirits. The ascent was fun and the summit view was fantastic. The pinnacle-riddled continuation of the ridge towards Mount Gould and Gould itself were absolutely wild, as were views towards peaks around Logan Pass (Bearhat, Reynolds, Clement).

An alternate descent route took us directly to the Highline Trail and an easy hike back to the car. A totally magnificent day.       

WARNING: excessive number of photos below, due to the scenic nature of the trip; continue at own risk.

The summit block of Pollock Mountain, as seen from Lunch Creek

Slogging up the slopes of Piegan

Mark on the ridge, with the true summit of Piegan to the right and the Piegan Glacier below

Same as above with me instead

The outlier of Piegan

Mark and a gap in the rock

Approaching the true summit of Pieganl Mount Siyeh to the right

Looking north to The Garden Wall and Mount Gould

A closer look at The Garden Wall and Mount Gould

The view to the south; Reynolds and Bearhat are prominent