Peak(s):  Mt. Oberlin - 8,180 feet
Date Posted:  08/26/2008
Date Climbed:   08/11/2008
Author:  Aubrey
 Mt. Oberlin, Glacier N.P.  

Trailhead: Logan Pass visitor center
Round-trip distance: about 4 miles
Total elevation gain: about 1,500 feet
YDS rating: The old trail (up a scree slope) is considered class 2, but the new recommended route up to the Clements-Oberlin saddle (the one we took) is class 3.

After consulting with a Ranger about the route, we started up the singletrack trail to Mt. Oberlin at 2:15 p.m. It felt weird starting so late, but Glacier doesn't have typical afternoon thunderstorms like Colorado. Still, we kept a close eye on the weather as we climbed.

In the following photo: view of the route from the Logan Pass parking lot; view of Logan Pass from halfway up the mountain; and a roadside goat posing for the camera.


As crowded as the visitor center was, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Mt. Oberlin trail pretty dead. We almost saw more animals (deer and a bighorn) than people.

At one point, the trail meanders past these rather scenic falls:


Mt. Reynolds in the background:


After skirting below a melting snowfield, there was a short section of steep and loose scree to get up.


Once on the Clements-Oberlin saddle, a fierce wind blasted us with 40+ mph winds. At times it was hard to keep our balance, but we pushed on.

The views were pretty incredible. The vertical relief and steepness of the mountains was amazing. Even though this peak is less than 9,000 feet, it seemed like we were on a 14er that rises steeply above a valley that's almost a mile below.


At first, the "trail" was well cairned and easy to follow, but the routefinding soon became more challenging.


The scrambling was pretty fun, though, and many of our moves were in the solid class 3 range. On a couple occasions, I think we even delved into some class 4, but we may not have been on the correct route.


As I remember, the route more or less went to the left at first, and then we traversed to the right, over a particularly steep rut, and then up the right side. Once we gained a highpoint on the ridge, we could see the true summit a bit farther away. Good scrambling was had.

Did I mention how steep those mountains are?! Peering over the edge was like looking down a bottomless pit.


In just over an hour we gained the summit, and we had it all to ourselves. The 360-degree view gave me a permagrin.


Here's a shot of Logan Pass from the summit of Mt. Oberlin (the Going-to-the-Sun Road can be seen as well):


Getting back down turned out to be a bit more challenging than we anticipated. As we climbed up, we looked back often, in order to remember landmarks for the way down, but all the rock looked the same and it was hard to find those landmarks.


If you've ever climbed the Bells and/or Pyramid Peak in Colorado, this mountain seemed to be very similar to those. The rock had the same hue, it was crumbly and rotten, and we had to climb on many sloping cliffs covered with loose debris. Some sections had pretty healthy exposure as well.

At one point on our descent we ended up cliffing out, but after backtracking some yards, we easily found another way back down to more familiar ground.

Back down on the Clements-Oberlin saddle, with Reynolds in the background:


We ended up making it back down to the visitor center about two hours after we started. Even though Oberlin is considered to be one of the easier peaks to climb in the Park, it was a pretty fun climb and I highly recommend it. Being our first hike/climb in the Park, we thought it was a great introduction.

As we drove toward our hotel room in East Glacier, I snapped this pic from Sunpoint:


In many ways, Glacier National Park reminded me of Alaska (steep peaks, extreme/wild terrain, low timberline, dense foliage/greenery, water everywhere, etc.).

And my parting shot ... you know you're a hiking/climbing geek when you travel with a suitcase dedicated to just boots:


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

I am so bummed...
08/27/2008 01:31
that my motorcycle trip in July didn‘t pan out. I had a couple days planned for Glacier. What and amazing piece of the earth! Stellar report as always Aub!


Glacier looks sick
08/27/2008 18:22
thanks for the out of state reports of some dramatic terrain, way to get out there and find some sublime regions in life after 14ers.

And thats a lot of boots.

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