Rising Wolf Mountain is the highest peak in the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park (Montana); el. 2900 m (9513') at the summit. From the summit there are awesome views in every direction. While the distance for this hike is not excessive (roughly 10 kms) the elevation gain is about 1.4 kms (4,500 feet), which makes for a long day. We had perfect weather to do this off-trail scramble on July 31st, 2005... It took us about 11 hours at a moderately brisk pace.
Rising Wolf Mountain towers above Two Medicine lake and dominates the view from the campground.
From the north east campground, cross over a bridge on the north side of the lake and follow the well maintained lakeshore trail heading west. We followed this trail for about 10 minutes before proceeding to bushwhack up towards the mountain. For the first hour or so it is a bit of a grunt (class II). Carefully picking our way up loose rubble, we soon had views of the campground and the lake below. The views of the low elevation terrain to the east of the Rockies were interesting as well, giving one an airy feeling of space and sky.
We soon reached the top of a broad ridge and the westward route to the mountain top looked extremely difficult. If I was on my own I would not have attempted this route, however, I did this hike as an outing with the Glacier Mountaineering Society/ . Others had been up to the summit previously, and lead us up a route that was not more difficult than class III the entire way. From this first ridge, the summit is still quite a distance to the west and still another 3000 ft or so of elevation gain.
We found a long couloir that took us above the first ridge (this took us above the aforementioned most-intimidating cliffs, which were ascended without any problems). Soon after, we had to climb up another couple of cliff bands. Continuing west, we were at the first ??false summit' by lunchtime. The true summit of Rising Wolf is 150 m (500 feet) higher than the false summit and is another couple of hours away, approximately 3 kms to the west across the ridgetop. Unfortunately, to gain the true summit, you have to lose about 150 m (500 ft) for a total gain of another 300 m (1,000 feet). It takes some time and effort but the views at the true summit are worth the effort.
As we made our way across the ridge, we took note of some extremely scary looking cliffs and made a note to avoid them on the way down. Continuing across the ridge, there is one last pitch of class III scrambling to get to the summit. From the summit there are great views of mountains in every directions, as well as Lost Boy, Oldman and Two Medicine Lakes.
For the descent, we re-traced our steps across the ridge for about a quarter of the way. We then carefully made our way down towards the middle of Two Medicine lake, taking care to avoid any cliff bands.
For alternate routes up to the summit, refer to J. Gordon Edwards ?"A Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park". Edwards describes in detail the route from the west approach (from Dawson-Pass). Edward's route ascends the mountain from the opposite direction (the 'west ridge' approach). Note: his route sounds like more of a grunt than the route described here. Edwards mentions the route down should be chosen with care, due to hidden cliff walls that can be encountered.
Note1: Practice proper bear etiquette in Glacier Park. On the way down we saw a grizzly playing in a stream far off in the distance, and we encountered a young black bear on the lakeshore trail not far from the campground.
Note2: The route traced on the map was an approximation of the route taken, not a GPS track.Note 3: This is a class III scramble. Be aware of the inherent risk of this type of scramble (a fall could cause massive injury, even death). Be prepared, know your limits and make sure somebody knows where you're going.
This off-trail scramble commences at Two Medicine Campground in Glacier National Park (Montana). There is a campground on the north east side of Two Medicine Lake where we parked our cars. Look for the lakeshore trail on the north side of the lake just after the bridge.
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