I purposely scheduled this unique climb during GMS Week in hopes of socializing with our out-of-town members, but only local yocals participated: Ralph Thornton, Steve Berg, Stephen Smith, Larry Hiller and Ron Gruber (now a local!). Regardless of size, our group had a great time together in an effort that began with taking the boat M.V. International across Waterton Lake from Alberta to Goathaunt in Montana, where we established a camp at the three-sided shelters available there.
During dinner, a most unusual circumstance occurred: climbing route information of the two peaks, complete with color photos, was hand-delivered to us by the Captain of the International during the late-evening cruise! Unbelievably, Park Warden Edwin Knox of Waterton had climbed both peaks the day before. Later, while searching the internet for the meaning of “Shaheeya,” he discovered our GMS website indicating our climbing plans. He generously saw to it that we were delivered the appropriate route information - a real bonus since none of the five of us had set foot on the peaks previously, and there were no descriptions in the Climber’s Guide.
A storm system moved in that evening that doused the area, but we were encouraged after awakening early on July 21st to clear skies. The hike from Goathaunt to Lake Janet was uneventful, but at this point the off-trail work began. We found the same avalanched area that Warden Knox had described to begin the ascent, but the bushwacking initially appeared tremendous. After extended hesitation, I stepped off the trail into thick brush soaked from the previous night’s rain and instantly found myself wallowing horizontally in “four centuries of downfall” per Steve Berg. Ralph later reflected that “we appeared to be experiencing a temporary loss of momentum,” so he found an alternate route through the brush. The rest of us reluctantly followed and muddled our way through until we gained higher ground, where the going became progressively easier. The avalanched drainage we followed extends directly from the saddle between Olson Mountain and Shaheeya Peak.
After gaining the saddle, we opted to climb Olson first, but one could choose either peak from this point. It was a simple walk-up from the saddle to the Olson summit, and we were rewarded with impressive views of the northern Livingston and Lewis Ranges. The entire west face of Mt. Cleveland was in front of us as well as the Citadel Peaks and Porcupine Ridge. The pleasant ridgewalk to Shaheeya revealed even more remote summits such as Thunderbird Mountain and several mountains in Waterton. While some of the group may have been tempted to continue on to nearby Chapman or Campbell, we realized that in order to catch the last boat we should descend. Incidentally, in his Place Names book, Jack Holterman indicates Shaheeya is “the Assiniboine and Stoney word for the Crees, their sometime allies,” while Olson was named after a camp cook named Charlie Olson.
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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