Pollock Mountain And Piegan Mountain

I originally made other scrambling plans for 13 August 2016, but when I found out that Zora Knezevic, Dinah Kruze and Bob Spirko were heading to Montana's Glacier National Park, I could not resist inviting myself to join them!  Their plan was to climb Piegan Mountain using the route described in A Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park by J. Gordon Edwards.  Ascending Pollock Mountain on the same trip was also a possibility since the two peaks share the same approach.

Given the sunny weekend weather, the park was, not surprisingly, very busy on this day, and we barely found a spot to park at Lunch Creek trailhead.  It did not take long to leave the crowds behind as we hiked up the east bank of Lunch Creek.  A good trail led us up past a headwall which guards a vast upper basin.  The upper basin is nearly surrounded by seemingly impassable cliffs, but Dinah and I both noticed that it looked feasible to circumvent them far to climber's right.  Banking that information, we continued to the back of the basin where we were able to access an obvious gully running all the way up to the saddle between Pollock Mountain and Piegan Mountain.  We climbed partway up the gully before ascending a beaten path to climber's right of the gully.  We took a lunch break at the saddle before going up the southeast ridge of Mount Pollock to check out the Southeast Couloir Route described by Edwards.  The cliffs here look quite daunting, and Zora and Dinah decided to hang back while Bob and I went to take a closer look at the couloir.  Although it was snow-free, the couloir was steep enough to dissuade Bob from continuing up.  Bob and Dinah were both recovering from a recent bout of bronchitis, and he did not feel he had enough energy to confidently tackle the Class 3 couloir.  While Bob rejoined Zora and Dinah to continue on to Piegan Mountain, I climbed up the couloir and had no problems reaching the summit of Pollock Mountain.  After completing my usual summit chores, I descended the couloir and crossed the saddle to tackle the northwest ridge of Piegan Mountain.

Be sure to check out Bob's trip report.
The crux of the trip was finding parking! Zora gears up beside Sonny's car at the trailhead for Lunch Creek.  The summit block of Pollock Mountain is visible at upper right.
Already some great scenery less than 15 minutes from the car! A headwall guards the upper basin of Lunch Creek.
Trail goes right. The group approaches the upper falls of Lunch Creek.
Look for faint trails in the scree leading to a break in the cliffs on the right. Zora heads to the back of the upper basin.
Sheep always seem to be nervous around me... Some bighorn sheep graze nervously in the upper basin.
Wow, I'm actually ahead of everyone else for a change! This is looking back down the upper basin.  Notable peaks in the distance include Heavy Runner Mountain, Mount Jackson, and Reynolds Mountain.
Maybe time to put on helmets? Bob enters a wide gully which leads to the saddle between Pollock Mountain and Piegan Mountain.
It's best to stay to the right of the gully at this point. Bob encounters wet rocks and steeper terrain to the left of the snow patch and gully.
It looks like someone chopped off the left side of the mountain! Mount Siyeh looks impressive from the saddle between Pollock Mountain and Piegan Mountain.

 In the gap is Mount Brown, another one that I wanna climb!

Bearhat Mountain and Clements Mountain are visible beyond the rugged southwest ridge of Pollock Mountain.


Looks a bit daunting, eh! Dinah approaches the southeast ridge of Pollock Mountain.
This is what I came here for. This is looking up the Class 3 southeast couloir.
It's too bad the others couldn't join me up here. Sonny gives a thumbs up on the summit of Pollock Mountain (2802 metres).

 The Heart of GNP

The meadows of Logan Pass are surrounded by peaks such as Reynolds Mountain (far left), Clements Mountain (right of centre) and Mount Oberlin (right foreground).


If I didn't have others waiting for me, I would have considered traversing to Bishops Cap. Bishops Cap and Mount Gould are to the north.  Also visible on the horizon just left of Mount Gould is Mount Cleveland.
Altyn Peak is left of centre but is hard to distinguish from the slopes of Apikuni Mountain. Apikuni Mountain is at left behind Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent Lake to the northeast.
Allen Mountain is another peak on my radar... A trail can be seen running over Piegan Pass below.  At right is Mount Siyeh, and at left is Allen Mountain.
Zora, Dinah and Bob are on their way up Piegan Mountain right now. Piegan Mountain partially blocks Going-to-the-Sun Mountain to the southeast.  At left is Matahpi Peak.
Looks worse from up here than it really is... This is looking down the southeast couloir from the top.  Note the cairns at the bottom of the photograph.
Although the northwest ridge of Piegan Mountain also looks daunting from a distance, most of it is easy to moderate scrambling although I briefly took a detour to climber's left to have some fun on some Class 4 terrain.  I arrived at the summit of Piegan Mountain to find Zora, Dinah and Bob waiting patiently for me there.  They had ascended a Class 2 rubble slope to climber's right of the northwest ridge, and this would be the same slope we would use for our descent.  Remembering the cliffs that we saw from below, we angled far to skier's left as we descended to the upper basin.  As it turned out, we did not go quite far enough and still had to down-climb some easy cliff bands, but these did not present any serious problems for us.  Once we were back in the upper basin, we picked up our approach trail and descended the headwall before hiking back to the trailhead.  Ironically, the maze of trails in the short stretch of low trees near the trailhead proved to be more of a route-finding challenge than anything else we encountered higher up, but with some trial and error, we finally made it back to the road.

On our drive home, my 2015 Honda CR-V's battery light came on, and the air conditioner stopped working.  With a lot of luck, I managed to drive my car all the way back to Dinah's and Bob's house before the electrical systems failed completely leaving me stranded in their driveway.  Zora was kind enough to give me a lift home from there, and the next day, Bob was very helpful in shuttling me back and forth from my place so that I could arrange for my car to be towed for repairs.  My disappointing car troubles aside, the ascent of Pollock Mountain and Piegan Mountain made for yet another enjoyable day in Glacier National Park, and I am eager to return once my car is repaired.
Guess which route I took... Piegan Mountain can be climbed by tackling the northwest ridge head on or slogging up rubble further to the right.
Hard to believe there are a couple of scramble routes up those cliffs! This is looking back at Pollock Mountain from the northwest ridge of Piegan Mountain.

 A nice day to be on a summit with some great people!

Bob, Dinah, Zora and Sonny stand on the summit of Piegan Mountain (2800 metres*).

* Taken from my eTrex 30x.  Piegan Mountain is officially listed on most maps and publications as 2810 metres.


Anyone wanna climb Bishops Cap with me? Pollock Mountain, Bishops Cap and Mount Gould stretch out to the northwest.
Definitely the easiest to climb of the six 10,000-foot peaks in GNP. Mount Siyeh is hard to ignore to the east.  Its namesake pass is also visible to the right.
I was surprised to see a glacier here! Piegan Glacier is tucked away on the east side of its namesake peak.  Across the valley are Matahpi Peak and Going-to-the-Sun Mountain.
Where's Bob?? Dinah and Zora descend rubble on the southwest face of Piegan Mountain.
Just watch out for Dinah's flying hiking poles! Zora and Dinah scramble down some easy cliff bands.
It's nice to end another day trip to Glacier NP with a waterfall shot! The upper falls of Lunch Creek is worth another look.
A surprisingly short trip. Total Distance:  7.9 kilometres
Total Time:  6 hours 3 minutes
Total Elevation Gain:  1050+ metres

GPX Data