Wind, water, off-trail scrambling - to get to the top of Lone Walker mountain in Glacier National Park (Montana) is certainly an adventure! We took the 'Sinopah' tour boat across Two Medicine Lake to save a couple of hours (this cuts about 8 km off the day). After taking the boat to the opposite side of Two Medicine lake, there is a well maintained trail that leads through three km of mixed forest to the upper lake. Lone Walker Mountain is at the opposite (west) side of the upper lake. At the upper lake, there is a rough trail that parallels the shoreline that is not much better than bushwhacking. See Glacier National Park (Montana) for more info.
As an alternative to following this trail, we brought sandals and proceeded to wade the shoreline for almost the entire length of the upper lake. We didn't follow the shore all the way to the opposite side, since there are some vertical cliff bands that one can traverse around if you climb up the scree before the cliffs. Keep in mind that at this point, the saddle beneath Lone Walker is the key destination; once on top of the saddle the route to the summit is fairly straight forward.
To get to the saddle, we proceeded up some scree, heading north west from the lake. We hit the bottom of the cliff walls on the north side of the lake and followed goat trails west before finding some climb-able couloirs at the base of the saddle... These couloirs took us up to the saddle.
From the saddle it should theoretically be straightforward class III scrambling to the summit, following the North face. However, hiking in the Rockies is not always straightforward! We did this hike on August 13th, 2005 and there was a light powdering of snow and some ice on the north side of the mountain, maybe from 500 feet below the top. It was quite slippery for scrambling - there was ice and wet moss. I felt extremely uneasy about the slippery footing; every single step I took on the wet rocks was taken with great caution. To avoid slippery climbing, we traversed to the West face of the mountain and made it very close to the peak (maybe 50 to 100 ft from the top). At this point, some chose to climb up a class IV pitch to the summit, while the rest of the party chose to traverse further, to the south face of the peak for a slightly easier route to the top (this took about 20 minutes more).
Fantastic views of the lakes below, as well as some impressive peaks including: Mt. Rockwell and
Rising wolf Mountain to the east; Mt. St. Nicolas looks very impressive in the west.
Edwards Climb classification: III (III) LM*** A pretty long day, a 12 hr outing for us - I recommend getting into extreme ship-shape fitness before taking on this peak! Also, I highly recommend making special arrangements to take the tour boat, or else a long day could become VERY long.
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.
-Trevor Helwig, Trailpeak snowshoe editor
Drive to Two Medicine camp ground and start from near the camp store at the 'Sinopah' boat launch., or follow the path along the lake shore. If you take the tour boat (10$ US) it will save two hours on the day. We arranged for a special 7 AM boat and also for a special 7:30 boat to pick us up if we missed the last (5:30 PM) boat on the return trip - which we did in fact require. (Special arrangements = sizeable tip for the operator). Check with the boat operator for the return trip time.
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