Views from the Summits:
The above photo is the view of Mount Jackson from the Jackson Glacier Overlook on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. To reach this peak you begin at this overlook, and it's approximately 12 miles to the summit. It's a long way in, it's a long climb, it's a long way back off the mountain, and it's a long way back to your vehicle.
Mount Jackson (10,52 feet) is a monstrous mountain that is the home for many large glaciers, including the famous Jackson Glacier and Harrison Glacier. This iconic mountain rises thousands of feet above Gunsight Lake, and is the focus of one of the top scenic overlooks on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Mount Jackson is one of six peaks over 10,000 feet in the park, and the views from this massive mountain are breath-taking!
The trick in climbing Mount Jackson, besides the 24 mile day and 5,000 vertical feet of climbing, is the weather. Mount Jackson takes such a long time to climb once the actual climb starts, and the mountain is so exposed because it's all by itself, that any sign of weather requires that you MUST get down as fast as possible. If you get caught up there in an electrical storm, the outcome could be disastrous.
We climbed Mount Jackson in one day, which is unusual. More typicially, climbers will spend the first night at the Gunsight Lake backcountry camp, and then either climb it the next day and return back to their vehicle on the Sun Road, or spend the second day climbing and the third day returning to their vehicle.
The problem with trying to complete the trip in one day is that you will run out of daylight. So how we accomplished this is we left the road in the dark at 4 AM and used our headlamps. Now this is not the smartest thing to do because it's a well known rule in Glacier that visitors own the trails during the day, and grizzlies own the trails at night. Walking trails in the dark in Glacier National Park is not recommended because of this unwritten rule. But we took the chance, made a lot of noise, and got to the base of Mount Jackson quite early in the morning.
(About 3 miles in there was a very large, noisy animal coming down the trail toward us in the dark, and we of course thought it was a grizzly so we got our pepper spray ready. It turned out to be a large bull moose instead, but it definitely got our attention!)
Mount Jackson is a BIG mountain! The actual climb takes forever because the summit is very high and very far away from where you begin climbing. Also there is a fair of amount of time needed for route finding as well. And it not only takes a long time climbing it, it also takes a long time getting back down to the Gunsight Pass Trail. Because of this, we ended up in the dark during the final 2 miles of the hike back to our truck. It was a very long day, and we were tired. But it was a fantastic day that we will never forget!
Views from the Summit
The views from the summit of Mount Jackson are absolutely breath-taking!
This is a view of Jackson Glacier from the upper ridge of Mount Jackson. We are facing straight east. The Glacier beyond Jackson Glacier to the east is Blackfoot Glacier. This photo was taken in late August 2009.
This is a summit view facing west. Lake Ellen Wilson is to the left. Gunsight Pass is to the left of the lake, in the center of the photo, thousands of feet below us.
This is Harrison Glacier, which is another glacier that Mount Jackson is home to. We are facing south. This is a huge, secluded glacier that most people never get to see because you have to be on the summit to see it. Harrison Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in Glacier National Park.
Gunsight Pass is several thousand vertical feet below us, with Lake Ellen Wilson to the left and Gunsight Lake to the right.
This is a section of Jackson Glacier, thousands of feet below us. Notice the helicoptor flying just over the glacier. This is a commercial helicoptor service that flies visitors over Glacier National Park.
Mount Jackson is so much higher than the surrounding mountains that you can see as far as the eye can see. The "haze" in the far distant horizon is actually smoke from a forest fire on the west coast.
This is a view from the summit facing north. The lake far below is Gunsight Lake, and the peaks in the distance are the peaks in the Logan Pass area, and beyond.
This is a summit view to the east. The large flat-topped peak in the distance is the massive Mount Stimson, another peak over ten thousand feet in elevation. Note the sharply pointed peak to the far right, far in the distance. That is Mount Saint Nicholas, the most technically challenging peak in the park.
Mount Jackson has several glaciers surround it's summit. This is one of them.
Standing on the summit of Mount Jackson makes you feel like you're on top of the world!
This is a view to the north, with Gunsight Lake far below.
Mount Jackson offers tremendous views all the way around because it's so high.
Shannon looking east toward the Jackson/Blackfoot Glacial Complex.