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Fri, Jul 23 2010 - Pinnacle Wall Goat Trail (View Original Event Details)

Coordinator(s): Stephen Smith
Participants:Tram Stout, Alan Gregory, Greg Kushnak, Jim Schroeder, Joe Schletz, David Olson, Josh Olson, Ron Gruber, Stephen Smith

Write Up:
Looking back on this challenging day, it makes sense that the GMS climbed the Pinnacle Wall Goat Trail on "J. Gordon Edwards Climbing Day" - Gordon would have appreciated our extended effort! The weather was not looking cooperative as we stood at the trailhead at 7:30 am, but we decided to soldier on and see if the weather would hold for us. We started with 11 GMS members but within a few minutes were down to 9; for a few minutes I was worried I would be the only one left standing at Iceberg Notch! As we approached Ptarmigan Tunnel however, the weather appeared to be lifting. Once at the tunnel, we decided to proceed cautiously along the infamous Goat Trail, which is a 4-mile trail to Ahern Pass that is maintained by goats and climbers. Most of this trek was uneventful, and the climbing team performed well, especially along the exposed parts of the trail. The unfortunate part of the day was that the heavens opened up on us while we were on the most exposed part of the trail high above Helen Lake, after the escape notch to the Iceberg Lake trail had been passed. The wet rock made for slow travel, but we eventually made the Ahern snowfield, at which point the group roped up into two teams with crampons to cross the steep snow to Ahern Pass. At this point, we knew it was getting late in the day (5:30 pm), but we felt that if we gained the Iceberg Notch we would be nearly home- free. Unfortunately, the afternoon rain left the entire 2,500-ft Class 3 & 4 route from the Notch to Iceberg Lake soaking wet. This condition made the descent much longer, and our group took the time to downclimb safely, particularly at the "backwards-e" algal formation where there was a steep Class 4 pitch. It was after 10:00 pm and dark when we reached Iceberg Lake, leaving 5 miles to go to return to the trailhead. As if our adventure had not been exciting enough, we came across a closed-trail barrier at the Iceberg/Ptarmigan junction; the Park had closed Iceberg Lake trail that day for bears while we were on the Goat Trail, so our group had just unknowingly hiked several miles on a closed trail. Luckily for those of us without headlamps, a near-full moon came out, helping illuminate our passage back to Swiftcurrent. We finally reached the Iceberg Lake trailhead at approximately 12:04 am. In typical GMS fashion, the time of day did not diminish the group's ability to take advantage of cold liquid refreshment waiting for us in the vehicles. Jim Schroeder was an exceptional co-coordinator on this 16.5 hour endeavor, and everyone was a good sport about the day in spite of the extended length. Tram Stout should be credited as well for deftly leading the team out from Iceberg Lake in the dark; we figured his tall profile would frighten any grizzly bears that might come our way! This trip is highly recommended to mountaineers as a Glacier Park classic and would definitely appeal to those we appreciate high off-trail alpine routes connecting different parts of the Park together. This GMS group definitely benefited from Gordon Edward's pioneering of this route decades earlier, and we enjoyed celebrating his climbing day together - or rather, "climbing days"!

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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