Mount Gould
When Kelly Bou and I packed up our camping gear at Avalanche Creek campground in Montana's Glacier National Park on the morning of 2 September 2012, I was not quite sure what I wanted to do for the rest of the day.  We were still feeling the effects of a long hike from the day before, and I also wanted to head back eastward along the Going-to-the-Sun road in anticipation of a long drive home later that evening.  The Highline Trail seemed like an ideal hike to do because elevation gain would be minimal while still affording spectacular views.  The only fly in the ointment was the possibility that we would not be able to find parking at Logan Pass.

Sure enough, when we arrived at the Logan Pass parking lot, it was full.  Rather than play the silly game of driving around in circles until a spot opened up, we backtracked a bit to Oberlin Bend where we were fortunate enough to find parking.  As we geared up for the hike, my gaze was drawn to the spectacular feature known as the Garden Wall under which the Highline Trail runs.  One of the peaks along the Garden Wall, Mount Gould, had been on my radar ever since I saw its striking east face from the summit of Mount Siyeh.  With the perfect weather, I simply could not resist an attempt on the west face scramble route as described in A Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park by J. Gordon Edwards.

From Oberlin Bend, we hiked back along the side of the road to reach the start of the Highline Trail.  While Kelly was content to enjoy a leisurely hike and to take photographs along the very scenic trail, I parted company with her and marched ahead more purposefully.  At the broad saddle between Mount Gould and Haystack Butte, I left the trail and scrambled up the obvious drainage coming down diagonally from the upper reaches of Mount Gould.  I followed Edwards' described route for much of the ascent except that I stayed near the drainage all the way to a distinctive notch in the summit ridge.  Peering over the other side of the notch was rather unnerving as the east face drops away precipitously for nearly 1200 metres to the valley below.  From the notch, I worked my way back onto the west face to circumvent some pinnacles, and I eventually regained the ridge not far from the summit.

Though I had been buffeted by a strong breeze for much of my ascent on the upper mountain, conditions were surprisingly calm at the summit.  I took my requisite photographs before retracing my steps back to the drainage.  Just as Edwards mentions, the plethora of cairns strewn about the upper mountain made route-finding on the descent a bit tricky, but I managed to get back down to the Highline Trail without any mishaps.  Kelly had been waiting patiently for me at the saddle for several hours, and after rejoining her, we hiked uneventfully back to the trailhead together.
Here's an idea. They should just turn the whole "rehabilitated" area into a massive parking lot! Kelly hikes beside the Going-to-the-Sun road to get to the start of the Highline Trail.  It is forbidden to take a short cut through the "rehabilitated" area on Kelly's left.
After seeing the east side, the west face doesn't look so bad after all! The west face of Mount Gould looks formidable enough from near the start of the Highline Trail.  Click here to see what the east side of Mount Gould looks like.
Not a good place to be if you suffer from acrophobia! Kelly walks past a couple of hikers on the exciting first section of the Highline Trail.  Going-to-the-Sun road runs parallel to the trail further down the cliffs.
Maybe later this year... The east face of Mount Oberlin gives no indication that the peak is one of the easiest to climb in Glacier National Park.  Peeking over its shoulder on the left is Clements Mountain.
Another to put on my to-do list... Heavens Peak garners some attention further to the west.
According to Wikipedia, "butte" comes from a French word meaning "small hill". Definitely a misnomer here! Were it not surrounded by more impressive peaks, Haystack Butte would be a much more attractive climbing objective.
Lots of people hang out at the saddle but few, if any, bother to venture up the slopes on either side. Here is the west face of Mount Gould as viewed from the Highline Trail just before the broad saddle between the peak and Haystack Butte.  The scramble route that Sonny would follow is roughly indicated.
Despite the open slopes, I didn't notice these sheep until I was nearly upon them. A herd of bighorn sheep graze on the lower slopes of Mount Gould.
The first hands-on scrambling of the day! Here is a breach in the first significant rock band encountered.
Among many route possibilites on the west face, this one is likely the most obvious. This drainage runs all the way up to a notch in the summit ridge.
The loose scree was helpful on descent. Sonny climbs up increasingly loose and steep terrain.
This ain't no walk in the park! The terrain on the upper mountain is fairly complex and requires good route-finding skills to negotiate.
Yikes! From the notch in the summit ridge, the east face of Mount Gould is an intimidating sight.
Took me over 4.5 hours to climb from my car. Sonny stands on the 2917-metre summit of Mount Gould.
Might be "Cannon Fire"?! There appears to be a fire somewhere behind Mount Cannon (right of centre) to the southwest.
I wanna climb Merritt soon! Mount Cleveland (left) and Mount Merritt (right) are visible to the north.  The shadowy sharp peak in the foreground is Iceberg Peak.
Andrew Nugara's photos on 18 August 2011 showed most of the lake still covered with ice. Upper Grinnell Lake is full of icebergs from the Grinnell Glacier.
Wonder if this is a sign of global warming... Here is a closer look at the northern end of Upper Grinnell Lake.
There are other named peaks that can be identified in this photo, but really, who cares? Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent Lake draw the most interest to the northeast.  Chief Mountain is just visible on the horizon at centre.
If you look closely, you can also spot a little bit of Lake Sherburne in the distance. Allen Mountain is the pointy peak to the east.
All the 10,000ers in GNP seem to be 'massive'! Mount Siyeh looks massive to the southeast.
A scree basher's paradise! This wider view to the southeast includes Mount Siyeh (far left), Matahpi Peak (left of centre), Going-to-the-Sun Mountain (right of centre), Cataract Mountain (diminutive peak in centre foreground), and Piegan Mountain (far right).
Ironically, Little Chief Mountain is actually about 140 metres higher than Chief Mountain! Here is a closer look at Going-to-the-Sun Mountain.  The dark peak at far right is Little Chief Mountain.
This is a photographic representation of the sketch on page 293 of J. Gordon Edwards' guidebook. Mount Jackson (far left) and Sperry Glacier are the most prominent features to the south.


Best view of the day!

This is a more comprehensive view to the north.


I climbed up the chute at bottom centre on my ascent but opted to find a less terrifying route on my descent. This is looking down the east face from a different angle near the notch in the summit ridge.
As Andrew Nugara says, "for obvious reasons, traverses from the Cap to Gould are unheard of!" The north side of Bishops Cap comprises one of the more spectacular sections of the Garden Wall.
Most people had disappeared by this time. Here is another look at Mount Gould's west face from the broad saddle.
The Highline Trail is very scenic in both directions! Kelly hikes back along the Highline Trail.  Mount Cannon is visible at right.
A fantastic scramble! Reynolds Mountain is illuminated by the late day sun.
And my car is parked just out of the picture to the right! Kelly retraces her steps along the precipitous first section of the Highline Trail.  At right is Clements Mountain.
Even at this late hour, we passed a few people going the other way on the trail! The Garden Wall includes Mount Gould (centre) and Bishops Cap (right).  Haystack Butte is in shadows at far left.
One of the more distinctive mountains in the park. Going-to-the-Sun Mountain rises above the trees in this view from near the trailhead.
Okay, last pic of Gould, I promise! Dusk falls on Mount Gould.
With all the tourists gone, this was an ideal time to snap some photos. Oberlin Falls are right beside the road near the Oberlin Bend parking area.
An amazing trip. I highly recommend this scramble! Total Distance:  14.4 kilometres (approximate)
Round-Trip Time:  8 hours 47 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  915 metres