Stanton Mountain stands at the head of Lake McDonald solidifying the iconic view from Apgar. It’s south facing slope melts out earlier than other peaks in Glacier National Park making it a great candidate for an early season summit. I went up with my friends Mark and Ashley Sanders as well as my favorite hiking partner and wife, Kristen.
We drove to the Trout Lake trailhead at the head of Lake McDonald and began the slog up Howe Ridge. Just before the Howe Ridge Fire trail joins our trail, there is a well used climbers trail that breaks off. It meanders through downed trees and shrubs making the bushwhack a very bearable exercise until you break out into the meadows.
As you break out into the meadows, the flowers showed their beautiful faces and the amazing views just kept getting better. The top was worth the effort and the multitude of insects were the only thing keeping it from being a perfect summit.
After lunch, we headed down. The top section isn’t too bad on the way down, while the flower meadows are steep and start to wreak havoc on tired bodies. Getting back onto the climber’s trail is critical. Once there, life is good.
Overall, very doable and a great first summit for those wishing to begin climbing in Glacier as it was for Mark, Ashley, and Kristen. No ropes, ice axes, crampons, or helmets needed once the snow clears on the ridges. I highly recommend Blake Passmore of Climb Glacier National Park and his series of climbing books that give great guidance with photos on routes in Glacier National Park. His Volume 3 focuses on the Lake McDonald region and helped us get on the climber’s trail.