Elevation Gain: ~ 1170 m / 3837 ft;
Maximum elevation: ~ 2181 m / 7157 feet;
Date: May 13th, 2006
This peak is located in the Flathead national forest just south of Glacier National Park (Montana), near the West Glacier park entrance. Ousel Peak has great views - as well as snow that lingers into the late spring and early summer.
Following the faint path up from the trailhead sign on highway 2, we hiked in trees initially. There were a few wildflowers out but we ran into snow after about an hour and a half and were in crampons for the rest of the way up. It was really fun to do a snow climb in such good conditions! Once we were in the snow we wandered off the trail and basically went straight up. We bushwhacked at times, but once on the ridge it opened up and there was lots of space. We brought snowshoes, but I took them off after a few minutes since the snow was so hard packed you could walk on it without Â‘post-holing'. It was much easier in crampons, too since our route was very steep and show-shoeing was a tad awkward. That said, one of my hiking companions wore snowshoes right up to the summit. Views from the top were great with the spring snow adding a lot of definition to the views in all directions.
I did this outing with the Glacier Mountaineering Society on May 13th, 2006. The hike coordinator specifically chose Ousel as a place to review self-arrest techniques and safe snow travel on steep slopes. We took about an hour on the way down to practice self-arrests with ice-axes and we practiced from various sliding positions - on our backs, fronts, backwards, forwards! It is a good idea to not only have the appropriate gear for safe snow travel but to also practice using it.
There is a trailhead sign on highway 2 between mile marker 159 and 160 and there are small parking areas further down the road near the trailhead sign. The trailhead is about 10 minutes east of the West Glacier Park entrance and about 45 minutes from Kalispell and Browning (Montana).There is a trailhead sign on highway 2 between mile marker 159 and 160 and there small parking areas further down the road near the trailhead sign. The trailhead is about 10 minutes east of the West Glacier Park entrance and about 45 minutes from Kalispell and Browning (Montana).
Traveling from Lethbridge (Alberta), some of the roads into Glacier Park are closed during the winter (routes 89 as well as the going to the sun road). In order to make our 8 AM rendez-vous, I camped out the night before at Duck Lake, since the border crossing at Port of Piegan only opens at 7AM. I was worried about how long the drive would be but discovered that even though some of the park roads are closed, the secondary highway 464 through Duck Lake and Browning in fact, saves about 45 minutes to get to West Glacier! By taking route 464 it took only 2.5 hours of travel time from Lethbridge to the trailhead.
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