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the morning a kettle of water was frozen solid, and Jack had to thaw it out to get water to mix his famous pancakes. Hardships were forgotten as we climbed Glacier Peak. The air was crystal clear, and we could see that at lower elevations the day was sunny and warm - a return to Indian summer. Here, high up on the peaks the air was crisp and invigorating. The glare of the sun on the snow was intense. Having no snow glasses, we did the next best thing: rubbed charcoal from the campfire on our faces just under the lower eyelids. This helped, but by evening we both had glorious sunburns. We crossed one corner of Sunrise Glacier on our climb to the peak. At one place there was a crevasse, too broad and deep to be concealed by the new snow. It had an ugly, repellent look and we avoided it altogether. The warm sun on the cliffs above caused some melting which resulted every now and then in a fusillade of small rocks which went bounding and skipping by us, warning us of incipient danger. Eventually we reached the crest of the backbone of the Missions, which extended miles to the south. A section of this knife edge forms the headwall of Mission Canyon, a basin on the floor of which are several lakes, not visible from where we were standing. Not far away in a southerly direction was the massive pyramid of Mountaineer Peak. A host of other mountains, including impressive Daughter-of-the-Sun completed this southern panorama. To the north was the huge bulk of MacDonald Peak, a challenge to climb, which we accepted the following day. We took a slightly different route on our descent LEFT: Bob Marshall trail sign – Rick and Susie Graetz photo

to camp, passing a snowshrouded tooth, which we dubbed “The Ghost.” Sitting beside the campfire that evening, thoroughly relaxed and cheered by a warm meal, we laid plans for the next day. We decided to go down Iceflow Lake, the source of Post Creek, and to follow down that stream to MacDonald Lake and the Flathead Valley. High cirrus clouds were drifting in from the west and south next morning and we sensed a change in the weather. We lost no time in packing up and picking a precarious way down to the bottom of the abysmal ravine, which cradles Iceflow Lake. A more dismal spot would be hard to find - or to imagine. The beetling cliffs of the Glacier Peaks cut off the sunlight except possibly for a few hours each day in mid-summer. The lake was frozen solid that morning. Looking up at MacDonald Peak, we speculated on how much of a climb it would be, without packs, to reach the top from where we were. Jack thought about an hour and a half would put us on top, and we decided to give it a try. After leaving the lake we climbed westward to a saddle from which we could see the Flathead Valley. Then turning northeast we started up a talus slope - a stiff climb where the footing was insecure because of the new snow, which became deeper the higher we went. Finally we came to the crest of the ridge and found we were some distance from the main summit, which appeared to be a hundred or more feet higher than the point on which we were standing. The wind was now blowing a gale and the sky had become completely overcast. Blowing snow was combing out over a cirque, which we thought might hold a small glacier. We could not face the wind standing up, so we crouched as we worked our way along the top of the serrated ridge. At last we were confronted by a gap, which could not be crossed with any degree of safety. It is possible that this gap could be crossed easily in good weather, but we did not care to attempt the passage in the face of the wind and snow. Although we did not gain the summit of MacDonald Peak, we felt repaid for the effort of the climb. Views near and far were ample compensation: close at hand

RIGHT: Grey Wolf Lake – Mission Mts. John Lambing photo

Crown of the Continent  

University of Montana's Crown of the Continent

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