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Tue, Jul 18 2006 - Mt. Merritt (View Original Event Details)

Coordinator(s): Ralph Thornton
Participants:Ralph Thornton

Write Up:
After a hearty breakfast at the Babb Press and a short drive to the Chief Mountain Customs trailhead, our group of nine energetic mountaineers began the threeday adventure to climb Mount Merritt (10,004 feet). We made the nine-mile hike in leisurely fashion, stopping several times to enjoy the views. Resting at the campground at the head of Glenns Lake, we made final plans for our climb the following day. Five of our group would camp there while four would continue on to the Mokowanis Junction campsite. We planned to meet at White Quiver Falls at 7 the following morning.

Summit day dawned clear and everyone met on time ready to go. All we had to do was climb about 5,400 feet. The first 1,500 feet or so was in the forest, but within a couple of hours we broke out of the trees into a vegetated basin. Before long we surmounted the lower scree slopes and were climbing cliffs heading for the great saddle above Old Sun Glacier. I was quite concerned there because of the great quantities of loose rock and the fairly large size of our group. Everyone worked together marvelously to avoid rockfall and I didn't hear more than a few calls of "ROCK!-ROCK-ROCK!" This group came together like none I've worked with before. I was very impressed and the tension in the back of my neck began to ease. We stopped for another luncheon and rest at the Great Saddle before climbing the last 1,000 feet to the summit.

The weather was clear and the views were spectacular. This was my fourth time on the top of Merritt, but the views had never been this clear. I especially like the arrangement of lakes, glaciers and peaks to the southwest. Norman Clyde made the first ascent of Mount Merritt in 1924. Here is how he described the view:

"Far below, in a deep-green, forest-clad valley, nestled a number of turquoise lakes [Mokowanis, Margaret, Ipasha] linked together by streams that flowed through aisles of serried fir and spruce, and fed by others that plunged over crags in wild cataracts or bounded down them in snowy cascades. High above them were other lakes [Sue Lake and other unnamed lakes] at the foot of glaciers [Ipasha, Chaney, Shephard] that had cut deeply into the gray craggy peaks that nourished them, and beyond the latter, in the distance, were the majestic mountains of the western range [Longfellow, Logging, South Vulture, Vulture, Rainbow, Carter and others], with masses of sunlit cumulus clouds hanging about their summits."

Everyone was just as impressed as Norman was on his first ascent. Time on top passed all too swiftly. We descended to the Great Saddle. Most of the group took a side excursion to climb Natoas Peak. This narrow and very exposed summit provides an outstanding view across Old Sun Glacier to the summit of Mount Merritt. During our descent to camp I somehow managed to get off route down in the forest. I was frustrated several times by cliffs blocking the route that required a great deal of backtracking. Someone asked if this was a "bonus feature" of this climb. Fortunately, everyone seemed to take the difficulties in stride and we reached the shores of Glenns Lake before it got real dark. The following day was the warmest of the trip. Some took advantage of the cool waters of the Belly River for a swim before hiking the last six miles. The rest of the hike was easy except for the last mile where the trail climbs 700 sun-baked feet to the road. Sweaty and hot, we reached the road and a dash to refreshments.



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