Otokomi Mountain
Feeling a bit restless on 26 May 2013, I procrastinated a bit before driving to Montana's Glacier National Park to climb Otokomi Mountain.  Located near Rising Sun campground on the north shore of Saint Mary Lake, Otokomi Mountain makes for an ideal early-season climbing objective because of its short approach and an easy ascent route that is probably snow-free by mid-May in most years.  After the lengthy drive from Calgary, I nearly did not get into the park as I inadvertently presented an expired park pass to the gate attendant.  Feeling somewhat embarrassed and bewildered (the valid pass that I thought I had was actually in my car's glove box though I had forgotten that I had put it there), I was prepared to turn around and leave, but thankfully, the attendant was kind enough to let me in for free anyway probably because of the lateness of the day.

As described in J. Gordon Edwards' A Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park, the approach for Otokomi Mountain is via the official trail to Otokomi Lake which starts beside the camp store at the Rising Sun parking lot.  On this day, the parking lot was closed, and I had to park on the access road between the store and the campground.  Par for the course, I mistakenly began hiking through the campground only to find myself on the wrong side of Rose Creek (outlet stream for Otokomi Lake).  After backtracking to the proper trailhead (signed), I hiked for about half an hour to a hairpin bend where a small creek spilled over the trail.  A route description from recommends leaving the trail at this point, and I followed suit.  Though steep, the bushwhacking through the trees was light, and shortly thereafter, I emerged from the forest and began toiling up a vast scree slope.  There are a few cliff bands on this slope, but I easily avoided them all by sticking more or less to climber's left.  I eventually settled into an easy but long plod up a broad ridge which was heavily foreshortened and seemingly interminable.  When I reached a large cairn on what looked like the summit, my GPS stated that the actual summit was still a few hundred metres to the north.  From my perspective, the rolling terrain to the north actually looked lower, but taking no chances, I took a quick altitude reading at the cairn before proceeding northward.  There was no marker of any sort in the vicinity of the actual summit, but when I took another altitude reading, I was surprised to find that the elevation was indeed higher albeit by only a few metres.  Although I was still unconvinced by the GPS reading, I felt assured that I had reached Otokomi Mountain's high point one way or another.  Returning to the cairn, I stopped briefly to snap some uninspiring photographs before retracing my steps back down the mountain.  Descending the vast scree slope was probably the most tedious and unappealing stretch of the entire outing, and despite the growing darkness, I was actually relieved to be bushwhacking through the forest again.  Subsequently, I had no problems finding the trail and hiking out.

When I had started hiking in the late afternoon, I had no worries about descending in the dark, but I did have some concerns about making it back to the Carway/Piegan border crossing before they closed for the evening (11:00 PM).  After returning to my car, I quickly changed and wasted no time driving to the border crossing where I managed to get through customs with about 15 minutes to spare.
Looks innocuous enough... This is the southeast end of Otokomi Mountain as seen from near Rising Sun Campground.
Get ready for a steep grind! suggests leaving the trail at this spot.
It's worse coming down this stuff than going up... A steep rubble slope is the reward for breaking out of the forest.
Ironically, Little Chief Mountain is bigger than nearby Chief Mountain! Little Chief Mountain is the striking peak across Saint Mary Lake.
Still a long way to go from here, though! The angle relents a bit on the upper mountain.
And that ain't the summit either! Because of foreshortening, this section is longer and farther than it looks.
I wonder how many people stop here and claim the summit...  A cairn (2412 metres) marks what appears to be the summit of Otokomi Mountain.
Just another big pile of scree; I get tired just looking at it! East Flattop Mountain (left) is aptly named.
I'm still not convinced that the official summit is truly the high point... This is looking back along the broad summit ridge from near the official summit (2418 metres) of Otokomi Mountain.
WTF happened to all the sunshine?? Back at the cairn, Sonny pauses to admire the surrounding view which includes Goat Mountain and frozen Goat Lake.
Impressive-looking peaks even without the sun. Here is another look at Little Chief Mountain to the southwest.  Other notable peaks include Mount Stimson (distant left) and Blackfoot Mountain (snow clad).
It's simply "Cracker", not "Mount Cracker" or "Cracker Peak". To the west are Mount Siyeh and Cracker.
I'm keen on paying those hills a visit... West Butte of Sweet Grass Hills rises on the eastern horizon.
A good early season objective. Total Distance:  ~9.5 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  5 hours 20 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  1016 metres