This seldom-visited peak in Glacier National Park (Montana) isn't terribly remote... but definitely off the beaten path! My friend J. and I had decided to take a mini-peak bagging vacation on the June 12/2010 weekend in the Two Medicine area of GNP, but with a lot of snow still lingering in the mountains we weren't sure what peaks would be in shape. We set off initially to try Sinopah... arriving at Rockwell Falls we saw that there was so much snow on Sinopah's eastern slopes that we figured that a successful ascent was doubtful, and not to mention just a tad dicy. Looking accross the valley at nearby Never Laughs, her western slopes were tantalizingly snow free, and there looked to be an interesting northwest route.
Beelining it accross the forested valley floor, the bushwhacking was not too difficult for the most part. We removed our hiking boots and froze our feet wading accross Paradise Creek, and endured a few minutes of upslope alder crashing on the lower slopes of the ridge. Once clear of the trees, we saw an easy route to the summit following some obvious class II terrain in a gully to the south. The more interesting (but unknown) route to the north looked like it would probably take us up, but with no guarantees - still, we decided to try ascending via the north end of the ridge to keep things interesting.
The north ascent route was predictably loose and required much route finding. Initially, the route consisted of rubble covered, class III ledges that skirted around cliffs, eventually narrowing to a difficult and mossy gully. Once above the gully, only a stone's throw from the top of the ridge, we found ourselves seemingly cliffed out by class IV and V terrain on a rocky projection. We were hesitant to commit to the class IV terrain without knowing if we would have to retrace our steps down such difficult terrain. J. managed to spot a reasonable way around the class IV cliffs, descending off our perch, down the opposite side of the projection, successfully rejoining class II slopes that took us to the ridge top.
Once on the ridge, we continued south for a kilometre or two to the true (named) summit. To descend, we dropped down off the true summit and followed some excellent scree runs that allowed us to lose about 2/3rds of the elevation, at which point we found a number of game trails that aided in our traverse of the bottom of the mountain. We followed these game trails, traversing north, past our morning's up-route until the trails petered out in the forest above Paradise creek.
Descending a meadowy clearing created by avalanche runout, we startled a moose and bushwhacked north west, eventually intersecting an abandoned park trail that allowed us to regain the Two Medicine trail without having to perform another crossing of Paradise Creek.
For a bit of fun, check out my POV video (shot using a Drift X170 helmet cam).
From the boat launch at Two Medicine Lake, follow the lakeside trail towards Rockwell Falls (see directions to Rockwell Falls on trailpeak here) , as well as a complete posting for Rockwell falls.
We hiked to Rockwell Falls, then made a beeline towards the northern slopes of Never Laughs, bushwhacking for about 45 minutes and crossing one freezing mountain stream. Alternatively, follow the GPS track on the return leg... we intersected an abandoned park trail that saved much time and effort.
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