Garden Wall Trifecta

Garden Wall TrifectaClimbing on top of the Garden Wall in Glacier National Park is one of my favorite places and the three peak day including Bishops Cap, Mt. Pollock, and Piegan Mountain is a spectacular route. While I had already climbed this route a couple of times, including last year for the blog titled “Garden Wall Trifecta“, my wife and a couple of friends hadn’t and asked if I’d want to do it again. Um, yes!

McDonald Creek InversionWe started out the day with an incredible inversion in the McDonald Creek valley which set the tone for a beautiful day. I like to do the route from Bishops Cap to Piegan Mountain as I’d rather climb up the Garden Wall and down into Lunch Creek instead of the other way around.

We parked a car at Lunch Creek and started at Logan Pass and hiked the Highline Trail. The climbing part starts at a creek bed right above Triple Arches and works its way up to the saddle between Bishops Cap and Mt. Pollock. After sweating it up to the beautiful cliffs that drop down into Many Glacier, we traversed our way up to Bishops Cap. It’s the most technical of all of the peaks with an almost impossible looking summit from Logan Pass. There are a couple of fun chimneys and it’s pretty exposed, so it’s not for the faint of heart, but the views are plenty rewarding (and the top roomy enough for all six of us).

From Bishops Cap, we headed down to the saddle between it and Mt. Pollock and found a couple of mountain goats. We used a couple of their trails and worked our way up to Mt. Pollock to slightly different, but equally amazing views. A group that we had spied on top of Piegan Mountain, and working the route in the reverse of us, joined us at the summit. After chatting and finding out that it wasn’t the first time our paths had crossed, we started working down.

The route down Mt. Pollock involves a crazy rift in the rocks which gives you a route from the foreboding cliffs. After the rift and a little down climbing, there is an easy goat trail that takes you to the saddle between Mt. Pollock and Piegan Mountain. Tired as we were, we decided to make it three peaks.

Piegan GlacierPiegan is a bit of a slog as you just work your way up a rounded mountain that keeps teasing you with its summit. Finally we reached the top on jelly legs and enjoyed more panoramic views including a look right down onto Piegan Glacier perched high above the valley floor below.

From there we went back to the saddle and dropped down into Lunch Creek. The main route down was still mostly filled with snow, so we had to hang left until right towards the bottom and then dropped officially into the bowl. From there it was creeks, a couple of waterfalls, flower meadows, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and a bunch of the various ground squirrels and marmots. Top that off with a feeling of accomplishment and perfect weather and we couldn’t be happier.

Posted on 5 Comments

5 thoughts on “Garden Wall Trifecta

  1. Looks beautiful! Your videos are immensely helpful. Couple questions: how does this kind of off-trail hiking work, are there unofficial trails to the top or do you just tend to improvise your way there? Also, how do these 3 summits compare to the top of Swiftcurrent?

    1. The answer to your first question is yes. 😉 To many of these more popular summits, there are routes and frequently, there are goat trails turned climbing trails that make for “trails”. In most scenarios, you’ll have to figure out the route, especially where multiple, conflicting cairns are concerned. As far as views and such, it’s hard to compare Swiftcurrent with any of these summits as they all are absolutely fantastic. Two advantages that you have with these summits are less people and more satisfaction as the level of effort is much more.

  2. […] blue tarn sat below the cliffs of the back side of the Garden Wall. Summits that my wife and I had climbed the previous day looked down on us from impossible […]

  3. How long does completing the trifecta typically take? Also, how difficult is route finding? Thanks

    1. I think that it usually takes us about 10 hours. I would highly recommend Blake Passmore’s book Climb Glacier National Park vol 1 for some of the route info (http://www.climbglacier.com and use code ‘hike734’ for a bit of a discount). It’s not too difficult for me, but I’ve done it enough times to know what to look for. I’ve also been climbing for a bit in the Park, but don’t know what other’s experiences are.

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