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Altyn Peak
Glacier National Park, Montana
August 1, 2009

The long drive to Glacier National Park left us with half a day to climb Altyn Peak. Following the route descriptions in Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park, we wanted to ascend the mountain using the South America route and descend via the Western Saddle route. But the brief descriptions left us scratching our heads. Although we didn't do either route, we summited and had a rewarding trip.

We had no trouble finding the trailhead: it's just past the junction at Swiftcurrent Falls. We parked at a pull-out past the trailhead. The steep, unrelenting trail follows alongside a drainage that cuts through a cliff band. Past that, open slopes stretch to a cliff band below the summit ridge.

We saw a few possibilities to reach the ridge: circumventing the cliff band left, up a weakness in the middle or through a bowl right of the summit. The South America route suggested going up the east end, but that was hidden from view.

As we drew closer, the features of the cliff band resolved into sharper focus and ascending the bowl looked probable. On closer inspection, steep rocks barred the way, save for a short chimney. I reached it with Sonny close behind. Meanwhile, Dinah passed us to check the east end route that the book described. Leaving the chimney for Sonny to explore, I followed Dinah to the east end.

Unfortunately the east end appeared too difficult and exposed to attempt, especially without helmets. But since Sonny made the summit from the chimney, Dinah and I backtracked to it and soon joined him on top.

After a long stay on the summit we headed to the Altyn-Henkel col. We looked for – and expected – an easy way down from there but it was not to be. A long, circuitous route around steep slopes eventually brought us back to the drainage in the cliff band. We could have done without going to the saddle, but ascending Altyn Peak was an enjoyable scramble.

Sonny's Trip Report

KML and GPX Tracks


Altyn Peak (mouse over for our approximate ascent route)


Heading up the trail


The trail follows a drainage that breaks through the cliff band


Nearing the break


Sonny took the left side of the drainage


I took the right


Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine below


The summit comes into view


Sonny pauses after we climb above the cliff band


Yellow buckwheat (mouse over) blankets the slope


When we ran into Andrew and Mark Nugara the following morning in St Mary's, we learned that while we were climbing Altyn, they were climbing Mount Wilbur (right, mouse over), ascending the east face seen here


As we ascend, we encountered colorful rock


A rocky staircase aids our ascent as we headed to the bowl


Higher up, we encountered scree. By keeping left, I encountered less scree than Dinah and Sonny.


Cliffs below the summit


Mountain goats on the cliffs


Sonny makes his way along the cliff base


I went to inspect a chimney hidden on the left


Sonny scrambles up the chimney (mouse over for a close-up)


Dinah heads to the east end


Sonny reached the summit but I'm stymied for a way up the east end


Dinah and I returned to the chimney, just behind the pinnacle above me


After scrambling up the chimney we ascended a gully partway before moving left onto a scree slope


Almost at the summit


It was a warm day and we spent nearly an hour on top of Altyn Peak


Mount Grin ne ll in the foreground


Going to the saddle. Mount Henkel on the right.


Below the saddle, we searched for a way down


Spruce grouse on display


Traversing mid-slopes back to the drainage


Back at the drainage


Columbian ground squirrels at Logan's Pass


Many Glaciers 1:24,000 Topo (3.4 mi, 7959 ft, 3031 ft)

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