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Ascent of Mount Cleveland on 2017-08-18

Climber: Ken Jones

Others in Party:Andy Boos
Chuck Powrie
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, August 18, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Cleveland
    Location:USA-Montana
    Elevation:10466 ft / 3190 m

Ascent Trip Report

The crux of climbing Mt Cleveland is to get a backcountry reservation at Stoney Indian Lake. The best way to do this (at least, under this year's process) is to apply within a minute or two when the reservation window opens up. That was on March 15 this year, in the morning. My party had 4 people applying. The only one who got a permit completed the application process within 100 seconds of the opening.

The Glacier NP backcountry page gives the details. I set up an account and filled out my application in advance (one night at Stoney Indian, the next at Kootenai Lakes) and saved that. I logged on exactly (to the second) at the opening time and opened my saved application. I quickly paged through the application making no changes (well, kind of quickly - the site was very slow that morning) and filled in my credit card payment information. This worked - I got a permit resrvation for the first date I'd applied for, although I'd added to the notes that I'd take any date over a 2-week period. The rest of my party were variously complete within 7 minutes to a half-hour of opening, but none of them got a permit. I cannot overstress the importance of getting that application in as early as you can. It is first-come, first-served, not a lottery.

We later decided to go in a day earlier on the afternoon ferry and camp at the Goat Haunt shelters. This allowed us to go to Stoney Indian early the next morning and rest up for the climb. If your schedule permits this and you have any concerns about your strength for the long summit day, I strongly recommend it. Also, we were incredibly lucky. When we showed up at the St Mary visitor center to pick up the permit and add Goat Haunt at the beginning I noticed on the "open camp sites" sheet that Stoney Indian had an opening for the night after our climb. I commented to the ranger that we were climbing Mt Cleveland and we'd really like two nights at Stoney Indian. She said she'd climbed it, understood, and could do that for us. Note that you will never be able to reserve it with consecutive nights at Stoney, but if there happens to be an opening at the time you pick up the permit and you are dealing with a sympathetic ranger it has been done - only this once that I know of. As I said, we were lucky. The night we needed was the only night with an opening all week. (I'd apply for Goat Haunt in my original application if I were doing it again - those shelters should not fill up most days so it's not likely to affect whether or not you get a permit).

Others have written about the climb itself, and I don't have a lot to add. There was some class 3 on our route up to the ledges. The west-side ledges are not all that exposed, and I was thinking this would be easier than I thought. After climbing through the saddle we started on the east-side ledges. This was nerve-wracking for a guy like me who doesn't like exposure - basically class 2 with a couple of spots where I used handholds, but mistakes would be serious to fatal.

I was exhausted both physically and mentally upon return to camp, and very glad I didn't have to head to Kootenai Lakes. If we'd not gotten the second night at Stoney we'd have packed up camp in the morning before climbing and hung the gear in plastic bags from the food hanging pole at camp. Nobody was using the pole, since the food locker was much more convenient. But you can't leave your gear occupying a camp spot while you climb, as someone will be along to claim that spot before you are likely to get back.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:6466 ft / 1970 m
    Extra Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Route:via Stoney Indian
    Trailhead:Waterton Lake ferry dock  4200 ft / 1280 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Ken Jones
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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