Between sign-up day in May and the actual climb in July, we had fruitbasket turnover on this climb with an almost entirely different set of climbers participating from those who originally signed up. This proved the merit of maintaining a waitlist regardless of its length! Climbers included Greg Harrah, Pat Heimark, Brian Kennedy, Wendy Ledyard, Jerry Moore, Derek Starker, Stephen Smith, Ken Justus, Ned Nixon, Matt Renkema, and Bruce and Rhonda White. The group was a mixture of GMS veterans and a couple of folks joining us for the first time, but Grinnell would prove to satisfy all.
Unfortunately, the typical mid- to late-summer pattern of sunny days had not yet begun, so we were sure to bring winter clothing. I selected the South Slope Route which involves hiking the Grinnell Glacier trail most of its length until arriving at a great meadow and leaving the trail. Grassy, ascending ramps lead eastward to several different breaks in the south cliffs that can be used to access the last 2,000 feet of scree and ledges leading to the summit. We enjoyed one advantage of this route - no false summits! So, when we topped out on the summit ridge we were essentially on the main summit.
Our break on top was not lengthy as the wind chill made it an inhospitable lunch spot. We were rewarded with clouds lifting enough to reveal a partial panorama of the Many Glacier Valley, including a bird’s-eye view of the Ptarmigan Tunnel, along with views of remote North Fork peaks such as Rainbow Peak visible to the northwest beyond the Continental Divide. Wildlife sightings during the day included bighorn sheep on the south slope and a grizzly sow with cubs below the Grinnell Glacier trail (spotted with Ken Justus’ pilot-vision). This climb marked GMS veteran Greg Harrah’s third ascent of Grinnell via three different routes!
I do not mean to gloss over this mountain’s dangers intentionally; the south face is steep, and special care must be taken to minimize the hazards of rockfall on others. This steepness is easily visible while observing Grinnell on the 12-mile drive into Many Glacier from Babb. The technical difficulty on our route was not great as nothing worse than Class 3 climbing was encountered. The required ice axes were not used this day as the problematic snowfields had melted out in the week since I had been on the mountain for reconnaissance. If future attempts are made on this route in June or earlier, more than likely ice axes would be utilized.
The post-climb celebratory dinner occurred at the popular Park Café in St. Mary, managed by GMS members Kathryn Hiestand and Neal Miller. Many thanks to Sandi Everts and Jerry Moore who had joined me on the pre-climb the previous weekend – Jerry must be a glutton for punishment. Climbing Grinnell reinforced my belief that the Many Glacier valley is my favorite place to climb in the Park!
Have some photos from this event that you'd like to share in our photo album? Please forward them to Tim Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that we prefer to receive the photos in approximately 640x480 or 750x500 pixels - do NOT send original high-res photos. If you have a LOT of photos, please submit up to twenty of your favorites (only) for a day event, or up to forty of your favourites for a multi-day event. Thank you.
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