Flathead County High Point Trip Report

Date: January 2004
Author: Tim Worth


This mountain isn't really a technical climb but takes a ton of stamina and effort. The Coal Creek route described by Edward Earl is likely the most feasible, but still it was estimated by Bob Packard to be about 40 mile round-trip and 10,000+ feet of total elevation gain. The Nyack Creek route is more direct, at about 25 miles round-trip, requiring "only" 6,500+ feet of gain, but all that is gained in one day on the northwest face, which is class 4.

There are other difficulties. At the start of the hike, you have to ford the Middle Fork Flathead River which, if the water level is high, may involve using a raft to ferry across hikers and supplies. There aren't any good high camps on Stimson, meaning the vast majority of elevation gain is done on summit day, with little hope of escape if the weather acts up. The rock of Glacier National Park is crumbly sediment which seems to fall apart when you breathe on it. And then there's the grizzlies.

In our attempt last year, after crossing Coal Creek, it took us 3 hours to bushwhack one mile up the Pinchot valley! Now beyond this it would have been another roughly 8 miles of bushwhacking up that valley just to get to the base of the mountain. Not going to try that again.

The guidebook I have says that Stimson was one of the last major Glacier National Park summits to be climbed (1950's), and that some years no one makes the summit. There are harder cohps in WA (Bonanza and Olympus come to mind), but it's easy to see why Flathead County will be the last one completed in MT.