Due to rainy conditions, we decided to hike the Otokomi Lake trail as a backup to a more ambitious planned climb (we had wanted to scramble up Curly Bear Mountain, also in the St. Mary area). As we hiked the trail, the clouds started to clear up and looking up towards the right of the trail, we decided that since the weather was looking nicer, climbing Mt. Otokomi was more interesting than following the trail to the lake.
Starting at the Rising Sun Motor Inn, we followed the trail towards Otokomi Lake for about 2 miles before we found a faint trail that headed up towards the open slopes of Otokomi. Ascending these open slopes, we did not encounter anything more difficult than Class II the entire way to the summit. However, there is still some danger from rockfall as it it is loose and crumbly in places, and we had one near-miss rockfall incident that could have been serious.
Note: Gord Edward's guidebook states that one should follow the trail for about 4 miles before heading up. This is too far! If you head this far, you might miss the open slopes and start climbing a more difficult ascent that will lead you to the ridge just to the north of Otokomi (leads to East Flattop mountain). Check out a map and decide for yourself.
We dawdled at the summit for about an hour and saw a herd of bighorn sheep below to the east and considered dropping a few hundred feet then re-ascending to the interconnecting ridge to east flat-top mountain.
We met a couple of hikers on the trail that accompanied us up to the summit. They decided they would continue on to East Flattop mountain and descend the cut line at Napi Point back down to St. Mary.
For people who are not interested in going further afield, the best descent route from the summit of Otokomi is to go down the same way you came up.
An alternate route suitable for both ascent/descent, (which we used for descent) is via the south side of the mountain. Probably not the best to descend this way unless you also came up this route, as it is a scramble with a variety of loose ledges and rubble back to the trail to Rising Sun Motor Lodge.)
Follow the Going to the Sun road into the park at St. Mary and park at the Rising Sun Motor Lodge. The trail to Otokomi Lake starts at the back.
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