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Sat, Aug 20 2005 - Allen Mountain (View Original Event Details)

Coordinator(s): Stephen Smith
Participants:Stephen Smith

Write Up:
The Climber’s Guide reminds us who struggle to the summit of Allen Mountain that it is HUGE. With this in mind, I verbally prepared each climber for the challenge but soon discovered that I had a fit and capable group consisting of Coby Grove, Dell Meuchel, Gail Meuchel, Kevin Mikelson, Stephen Smith, Jim Valentine, Rhonda White, and Bruce White. Our planned route was via the Snow Moon basin as described in the guide. This route is completely off-trail, starting in the east parking lot of the Many Glacier Hotel. There are two options to access the Snow Moon basin, the low or high traverse. We opted for the more scenic high traverse, soon finding ourselves on a wonderful goat/climber’s trail. This wrapped us around a shoulder of Allen Mountain to the east giving way to views of the pristine Many Glacier valley and the Snow Moon basin. From this shoulder, we dropped elevation and intersected the low traverse route, approaching Schwab Falls and the basin. Crossing the outlet of Falling Leaf Lake brought us to the steep ascent up scree and ledges to the crux of the climb, the “tremendous sheer cliffs.” At this point, we searched and found the “very steep break” mentioned in the guide which eventually led us to an open southern slope. From there, a pleasant ridge walk took our group to the summit with awesome views of the park in all directions.

From the summit, there are at least three options for the descent: returning the same way, climbing down to the Piegan Pass trail, or descending to Cracker Lake. The weather conditions remained excellent so after a long lunch on top, the group elected to tackle the longer of the three routes back via Cracker Lake. This route is more than 3,000 vertical feet down scree and loose ledges, but the elevation is lost fairly quickly, proving why Edwards calls this route “unimaginative” as an ascent option. There is at least one bonus to this descent: studying the tremendous 4,200-foot north face of Mt. Siyeh that dominates the view.

Once down, Jim Valentine scouted a route across the streams and moraines at the head of Cracker Lake where the brush was thick. At the nearby Cracker Mine, we inspected the old mining equipment, including a large boiler. Using headlamps for navigation, we cooled off inside the mine and explored its full extent. The unfortunate part of the route decision was that we still had a 6.1-mile hike back to the parking lot. Nevertheless, we returned around 5:30 pm after a 7:30 am start – definitely a fulfilling day.

I wish to thank Joe and Denise Grabowski for joining me on the route reconnaissance in July and Ralph Thornton for helpful route information. This is one peak I didn’t mind climbing twice in one summer, and I hope for many more attempts in my lifetime. In fact, it is on the schedule again for 2006!

Have some photos from this event that you'd like to share in our photo album? Please forward them to Tim Anderson at 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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