Apikuni Mountain
Glacier National Park, Montana
July 2, 2016

Looking for a change in scenery from the mountains west of Calgary, Sonny, Dinah and I turned our attention south of the border, to Apikuni Mountain. This peak, which Sonny suggested, is mostly a class 2 climb (we encountered a brief class 3 section) that was certain to be snow-free early in the season.

The trip begins at Apikuni Falls trailhead. After reaching the falls, the trail climbs to a hanging valley. The usual route follows the trail into the valley to a gully and then leaves the trail to ascend the southeast ridge. After gaining the ridge, the summit is within easy reach.

However, I questioned the practicality of the midsection of the route. Instead of venturing into the valley, why not head directly up the southeast ridge? This, I reasoned, would be a friendlier grade, and the sooner we started climbing, the sooner we would take in the views. Plus, the sheep track I noticed on Google Earth would greatly ease our ascent. The trail wasn’t always easy to follow, but aside from a few short twists, it runs nearly straight (I built a few cairns to aid our descent). It knocks off nearly 300 m of elevation before disappearing into the expansive, featureless southeast ridge where a trail becomes irrelevant, where one can wander at will.

After a three-hour drive from Calgary, we parked at the trailhead and hiked to Apikuni Falls less than a mile away. In itself, the waterfalls are a popular, worthwhile destination, but we had bigger fish to fry. We put the falls behind and below us as we climbed the trail to the hanging valley.

Upon reaching the edge of the valley, we left the trail and started up a scree slope. We caught a short animal track going left before leaving it to reach a higher, longer one. Before the high trail disappeared into the southeast ridge, we headed to a red scree slope. We angled up the soft scree to gain the ridge.

Once on the ridge we made our way to the top of Apikuni Mountain. Keeping low on the left side, it’s little more than a walk, but scrambling challenges can be found by sticking to the crest. A large cairn marks the summit.

On a nicer day, we would have lingered longer than half an hour, but overcast skies dulled Apikuni’s summit views, which, according to A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park, are “unique and spectacular.” So we headed back down.

Other than to take advantage of good scree – the red slope was particular fast and fun – we retraced our steps back down. At the falls, we paused to again admire the cascading water, the area now busy with tourists, before returning to our car.

Sonny's Trip Report
KML and GPX Tracks


The modest summit of Apikuni Mountain rises above Sonny, well in the background


Apikuni Falls is less than a mile from the trailhead


A few trails start up from the falls but we took the first one


The trail switchbacks before reaching the hanging valley


Following the trail into the valley


After leaving the trail we started up the scree slope


Looking back


We followed a sheep track low on the slopes before leaving for a higher, longer trail


The hanging valley extends below us while Mount Henkel sits in the background (click for a larger image)


Starting up the high animal trail


We'll gain nearly 300 m on this trail


Dinah climbs up a little chute


A little later, we scrambled up a short cliff band


We left the trail soon after this. Apikuni's summit is on the left.


We were mere specs on the expansive southeast ridge (mouse over to look back)


The sharp end in the background is Napi Point


Wildflowers, such as the silky scorpionweed in the foreground (mouse over) dotted the slopes


We took the red slope at an angle, aiming for the gray rocks on our left


On the ridge


Heading to the first of a few false summits


Altyn Peak (click for a larger image)


The largest of the two lakes below Altyn is Natahki Lake


Yellow Mountain lies northeast (mouse over for a close-up)


Despite overcast skies, the colourful rocks were still striking


Sonny practices his summit pose


Obstacles on the ridge can be scrambled over or simply walked around


Looking back


The last steps to the summit


Mount Henkel (click for a larger image)


Standing on top of Apikuni Mountain


Back in the basin where we started our climb


Many Glaciers 1:24,000 Topo (6.8 mi, 9065 ft, 4144 ft)


U.S. Trips | Home