Glacier Classic

The 17th Annual Glacier Classic

“The Kercher Classic”

Thursday, August 19- Sunday, August 22, 2021

Divide Creek Campground, St. Mary, Montana

After a year in near hiatus (only three of us attended the Classic last year due to COVID) it was GREAT to be back in Glacier for our 17th Classic!  Around 30 people planned on attending but these numbers got halved due to folks watching the forecast.  Mistake!  The forecast lied!  Well, it did rain a bit, but nothing hard and nothing that prevented us from having a blast for four days.  In the end, 15 of us turned out for not only a great event in Glacier, but also a nice remembrance of our dear friend Bryan Kercher.  This years event was dedicated to him and hopefully we honored him well.  You are dearly missed, Bryan.

A bunch of us arrived up there on Thursday afternoon.  Laurel lead four of us on a short “warmup” climb up Baring Point on a nice sunny afternoon.  The rain moved in as we finished, but upon driving out to St. Mary it dissipated.  We enjoyed some dinner and then early into bed.  Friday saw the group heading off in 4 directions:  Altyn Peak, Walling Reef (Rocky Mountain Front), Appistoki/Ellsworth/Henry loop, and a trail loop (Poia Lake, Redgap Pass, Ptarmigan Tunnel).  We had decided the high peaks that were planned for that day weren’t a great idea due to the light rain.  However, by that afternoon, the sun was out and we were living it!  Bryan shining on us?

The slightly wet weather actually brought a nice bonus- the Stage 2 fire restrictions were lifted Friday afternoon and we enjoyed a nice campfire that evening.  It was fun to once again enjoy a fire!  The entire group was there that evening.

Saturday was the wettest day, but it never really poured.  Just one of those cloudy days with periodic drizzle.  Again, the group scattered in four directions:  Goat Mountain, Dancing Lady, Angel Wing and a hike around Two Medicine Lake.  Most of us gathered back at camp that night.  Rain ended and we enjoyed a wonderful night in camp.  Good food, topped off by a new tradition?  Casey Lammers and her kids brought several dozen ears of corn on the cob and treated us all- it was delicious!  Another great campfire brought the night to a close.

Only one trip on Sunday.  Five of us headed up to Chief Mountain and battled some stiff winds but summitted.  This is a very special mountain to the Blackfeet and we did our best to pay our respects as we tread across their lands and their mountain.  This also turned out to be a very special way to pay our respects to Bryan, as we followed Blackfeet custom and left tokens for him.

Thank you all for making this yet another great Glacier Classic.  Already looking forward to next year!

Attendees: (asterisk denotes first timer)

Forest Dean                                        *Peter Rice                                         *Tom Statz

Frank Dean                                         Elizabeth Moore                               Minot Maser

Seth Anderson                                  Paul Jensen                                        *Candy Hartman

Laurel Vielle                                       Casey Lammers                                 Lainey Lammers

Corey Hinshaw                                  Wyatt Lammers                                Nolan Lammers

Trip Reports

Thursday

Baring Point

Participants:  Forest Dean, Frank Dean, Corey Hinshaw, Laurel Vielle

On Thursday afternoon of the Glacier Classic, after a few set up camp, the 4 of us started up Baring Point from an obscure pullout off of GTTSR.  Baring Point is a high point just below Going-to-the-Sun Mountain.  After a short, moderate bushwhack we started up some cliffs.  There were varied routes through the cliffs, some spicier than others, and the climbers enjoyed a variety of scrambling – easier stuff up to class III & IV.  The last couple hundred feet of the climb consisted of classic Glacier scree and was a challenging “one step forward three steps back” hike to the top.  From the summit we enjoyed amazing views in all directions, particularity of Going-to-the Sun Mtn.  The return trip was uneventful and just as we got back to the cars it started to rain-so our timing was perfect! RT mileage was ~3 miles, elevation gain was ~3500ft and it took just under 4 hours for the climb.  Laurel Vielle

Friday

Redgap Pass Loop

Participants:  Elizabeth Moore, Forest Dean

With a rainy forecast, decided to stay away from the high peaks today (Ipasha had been planned) and do a big trail loop instead.  Only Elizabeth took me up on the idea to hike and run this 26 mile loop.  We got started at the Many Glacier Hotel lot at 8:15 and started jogging to the Apikuni Falls/Redgap trailhead.  Trails were somewhat muddy and drizzle ensued for the next few hours.  We made our way up and over Swiftcurrent Ridge and then down to beautiful Poia Lake in about 2 hours.  After a short food break there, we headed west and up to Redgap Pass.  Alternating running the flats and hiking the uphills we made good time.  As we neared the Pass the skies began to break.  Soon after crossing this beautiful pass we were running downhill towards Elizabeth Lake and shedding our insulating and rain layers as we went.  The day became perfect as we intercepted the Ptarmigan Trail and headed upwards once again- this time to Ptarmigan Tunnel.  The first half of the day we saw two people, but as we neared the tunnel and especially on the descent back to Many Glacier, we past hordes!  Scattered showers hit us as we ran back to the Hotel, arriving at 4:00pm.  Here the sun popped out again for good though, and we enjoyed a couple of beers in the lot and reveled in our adventure!  26.2 miles (we had to do a little loop in the parking lot to get that last 0.2), with about 4400’ of elevation gain in an unfrantic 7:45.  Forest Dean

Walling Reef Attempt

Participants:  Corey Hinshaw, Laurel Vielle

In an attempt to get away from the rain and as a replacement for Iceberg Peak, Corey and I headed to the Rocky Mountain Front west of Dupuyer.  Though we didn’t get away from the rain until later in the day, we still enjoyed a rather misty hike toward Walling Reef, an iconic high point along the Front.  While the weather didn’t allow us to summit Walling, we did ascend an unnamed high point we dubbed “Kercher Point” in honor of Bryan Kercher.  On our way back from Kercher Point, the weather got progressively nicer and we had beautiful views and sunshine the last few miles of the hike and while we enjoyed a cold beer after.  RT mileage was 16.75 miles, elevation gain was ~4500ft.  Laurel Vielle

Mount Altyn

Participants:  Minot Maser, Paul Rice, Tom Statz, Paul Jensen, Candy Hartman

We had a late start out of camp and along with the road construction into Many Glacier it was close to 11:00 am by the time we started our day in the light rain. The decision was made to take the South America route up Mt Altyn so we began climbing the stream bed directly across the road from the Many Glacier hotel. The lower slopes were easy going over the rocks of the streambed. Around 1000 ft up we got into steeper areas of the bed and here we got a bit more spread out. The snow field that defines the South America route was long gone so we did not have the marker where to angle east. 4 of us regrouped about half way up as Minot was on his way down. He let us know he had taken the stream bed all the way up and informed us it was not too difficult. We worked our way through the last of the rocky area. The rock was quite loose and we did have to do some route finding to get through the area safely. Once we got to the ridge it was an easy walk to the summit. Fortunately the clouds began to lift as we were climbing and we had some stunning views of the valley. Minot descended down the stream bed after we had seen him and as he was approaching the road a park visitor informed him they had been watching a grizzly move through the area he had just been in. The rest of us angled to the west after getting through the first cliff bands. Most of the rest of the route down was easy walking although we did have to fight through some brush to reach the trail taking us back to the hotel.   Candy Hartman

Mt. Henry Loop

Participants:  Frank Dean, Seth Anderson

Frank and Seth hiked, ran and climbed a loop that included summitting Mt. Ellsworth, Mt. Henry and Appistoki Mountain.  Little else is known, but they didn’t leave camp late that morning and arrived back by dinnertime, so they obviously crushed it!

Saturday

Goat Mountain

Participants:  Paul Jensen, Corey Hinshaw, Elizabeth Moore, Forest Dean

Again today, a subpar forecast (100% chance of precipitation) inspired us to stay off the planned big peaks along the Divide so we chose this 8826’ peak south of Otokomi Lake as an “easy” day instead.  Today was actually rainier than yesterday, but it never rained hard and it wasn’t really cold.  So, a great day for a moderate paced hike to Otokomi then up class 2 slopes to this summit!  We started late (9:30) and enjoyed lots of huckleberries as we hiked the 5.6 miles to the lake.  There we crossed the outlet creek and traversed on a trail around the south shore to an open slope leading up towards the south side of Goat.  After gaining about 1000’ above the lake, the fog and clouds moved in on us and we briefly decided to throw in the towel and head back down.  Just as we did, a partial clearing revealed the ridge to the summit and we “decided to explore a little further”.  Soon we were at the summit, enjoying, well, no views!  This was Corey’s first summit in Glacier though, so we had something to celebrate!  First of many, Corey!  I think we arrived about 2:15pm.  Back to the lake we went then the long hike out the trail arriving back at trailhead around 6:15pm.  About 15 miles, 4500’ of gain over 8:45.  Fun day!  Forest Dean

South side of Two Medicine Lake

Participants: Tom Statz, Casey Lammers, Lainey Lammers, Wyatt Lammers, Nolan Lammers, Candy Hartman

It was a drizzly, cool morning as we began our hike and the rain continued for the duration. Once gathering in Two Medicine we hiked the southside of the lake which is a nice trail without much elevation gain. We didn’t get much for views and most of the flowers were past their prime but we did pass beaver ponds and a number of thimble berry patches that we made stops at. When we made it to the falls Wyatt and Nolan did some exploring further up the falls. The Lammers headed back when we were done there and Tom and Candy made it to the Rockwell falls junction before heading back.  Candy Hartman

Dancing Lady Mountain

Participants:  Frank Dean, Seth Anderson

Climbed this mountain in the Two Medicine area.  No trip report, so no details!

Sunday

Chief Mountain

Participants:  Forest Dean, Corey Hinshaw, Paul Jensen, Elizabeth Smith, Laurel Vielle

This climb of Chief Mtn. was dedicated to Bryan Kercher.  Sunday morning we all woke to a wonderfully partly cloudy sky and a welcoming rainbow.  The five of us jammed into my 4Runner and braved the seriously muddy country road which led to the start of the climb.  The muddy road ended up being the crux of the day for me but thankfully no ditches were hit…!  Taking a well-worn climbers trail near our parking area, we quickly covered the first couple miles of the hike toward Chief.  Near the base of Chief’s northern face we swung toward the west and traversed grass, swamps and boulders to access the southern face where the real climbing began.  After a couple hundred feet of scree, we veered toward a weakness in the cliffs and enjoyed some solid class III climbing with one class IV move to the summit.  The summit views were stunning and our thoughts were with Bryan. We descended the same way. It was an amazing day, one that wont be forgotten, just as Bryan won’t be. ~7.5 miles RT and ~3900 ft of elevation gain.  Laurel Vielle