Ascent of Mount Oberlin on 1994-07-25
|Date:||Monday, July 25, 1994|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Elevation:||8180 ft / 2493 m|
Ascent Trip ReportEven though Glacier National Park boast only six 10,000 foot peaks, making its mountains laughably low by the standards of the rest of the western U.S., the steepness, remoteness, and vertical gain of the park's mountains is truly formidable. No trails even get near to any summits, rotten cliffs and loose rock are constant obstacles, man-eating grizzly bears roam around, and the weather can be severe. My plan was to first climb Mt. Oberlin, an 8,180 foot peak made easy by the proximity of a high trailhead at Logan Pass, to see what peaks in the park were like.
I hiked up the nature path among hordes of tourists, and then struck off to my right towards Mt. Oberlin across meadows, with one tourist telling me I shouldn't trample the fragile alpine tundra. I was not aware of the NPS-recommended route, but I did try to stay on rock as much as possible. I soon arrived in the cirque beneath the peak, and I elected to try to climb up via the south ridge, since I saw people on a faint path heading up that way. I passed the people, and after a short but steep climb I gained the crest of the ridge at the Oberlin-Clements col.
The ridge to the summit was a challenge, due to lots of short cliffs and miserable, crumbling rock; although not as bad as Cascade volcanic crap, it was semi-sturdy metamorphic layers that sometimes just came right out of the mountain face when you tugged on them. The crux of the route was at a cliff face I couldn't scale where I jumped down five feet to a shelf that offered a route around it, and there were other small cliffs that had to be scaled.
I reached the summit, all alone, and admired views and took pictures under the cloudy skies. The mountain panorama was excellent--I was up on a dizzying height--and the traffic at Logan Pass below looked pretty bad. For my descent I climbed down the southeast side of Mt. Oberlin, where a faint path led down the steep, crumbly slopes to the cirque I had been in earlier, since it looked easier than the way I had climbed up. There were still some snowbanks there, and I saw a couple other parties. Following obscure paths wherever possible to avoid more meadow-trampling, I made my way down the ravine, crossed a brook a few times, found a water tower, and then easily hiked down to the visitor center, making a complete loop.
The Logan Pass area was still a zoo, and cars were following people to their cars so they could scarf up parking spaces--like at the mall before Christmas. I went straight to my car and left as my space was taken immediately, and I saw cars parking on the shoulder of the road even though there was a ranger there giving parking tickets in plain view.
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