Missoula County High Point Trip Report

Date: July 30, 2002
Author: Bob Packard

Bought camping stamp and reservation use permit for $22 in Polson. Going south on US 93 leads to St. Ignatius and a road leading southeast to St. Marys Lake at 4000 feet. At the north end of the dam, reached by dirt road is tiny camp spot and start of use trail going steeply northeast up to the south ridge of East St. Marys Peak (9425) in Lake County. And I mean steeply. It goes from 4000 feet to 8600 feet in 2 miles! Above tree line trail disappears, but none is needed as you can see everything. At point 8902 found wood and wire for triangulation point.

Working my way around snow field climbed East St. Marys Peak, decided against West St. Marys Peak (pretty cruddy ridge), worked around north side of another snow field and got down to Vacation Pass and then up to Lowary Peak (Peak X, 9369 ft), HP of Missoula County. Decided against Peak Y with frightening looking ridge and a drop of only 120 feet.

On return, didn't climb East St Marys but had to get high on it and did some 3rd class climbing to avoid snow and get up on that south ridge.

The Missoula HP is a clear 5000 foot elevation gainer as the trailhead is 5369 below the summit, but the elevation gain has to be more than that because although you don't have to climb East St Marys you have to get fairly high on it. Area is on Flathead Indian Reservation.

Trip statistics: 10 hours, 9 miles, 6500 feet of elevation gain.