August 19, 2015
Glacier National Park, MT
Mt. Gould is not nearly the highest in Glacier National Park, Montana, but it’s one of the higher peaks surrounding Logan Pass – the core tourism area in this Park. It’s one of the major objectives in this 3-day visit to the far south by Mike and I so we saved it for the day with the most guaranteed weather (Wednesday). However, the weather played a joke with us as a thick layer of smoke blew in from west obscuring most of our views. But nonetheless it’s a great introductory to Logan Pass. The Going-to-the-Sun Highway brought us more than 1000 vertical meters from West Glacier to the pass and by the time we started our day we were already near treeline.
We had an ambitious plan to bag Gould and Reynolds in 1 day so cruised down the Highline Trail on a fast pace, passing a hundred tourists along the way.. This 6-km trail was indeed very scenic and brought us from Logan Pass to the broad saddle between Mt. Gould and Haystack Butte in just over an hour, while (sort of) maintaining elevation. There were quite a few up-and-downs but not too bad and near the saddle we followed a wide switch-back up.
At the saddle I switched my footwear to the mountaineering boots and then upwards and onwards ascending the W. Face loosely following Sonny Bou’s trip report. We knew this route went roughly at Class 4 scramble via an obvious diagonal gully system then transitioning to the upper SW Face. The gully was very easy to spot and not far up we found ourselves working our way through a series of rock steps and then the lower cliff band. They all required route-finding here-and-there but nothing overly tricky. Once above the lower cliff bands the terrain angle eased a bit and it’s mostly a scree slog on horribly loose ground for the next short while.
Not farther up the gully started to get more involved again with some route-finding on Class 3 loose terrain. We weren’t sure exactly where to exit the gully higher up so decided to go all the way to the end to check out Sonny’s notch anyway. That required a bit of extra work but the view looking straight down the E. Face was all worth the shot. We backtracked a bit then followed paths and cairns here and there on the upper SW Face. We kept traversing back-and-forth many times to keep the terrain at scrambling only (Class 3 or 4) and soon enough we were on the final summit ridge. A short walk brought us to the highest point, disappointed thank to the smoke…
There weren’t too many stuffs to see from the top so after a quick lunch break we started the descent. I initially disoriented myself thank to the abundance of cairns leading down the wrong direction. Thankfully Mike spotted my mistake and we quickly corrected ourselves without too much of a detour. We then loosely followed our ascent route down the upper face into the gully. Descending the gully was tedious thank to the millions of short rock steps but by breaking them one-by-one it’s very manageable.
Once down to the saddle between Gould and Haystack Butte we had to make a decision. At this point Mike weren’t 100% sure about his motivation to ascend Reynolds Mountain in the evening so to salvage this day without another peak we decided to hike up the lowly Haystack Butte. We didn’t have too many hours of daylight time for ascents of both Haystack and Reynolds but I figured by pushing a bit I could still possibly get both.