MT. GANSNER 3002m 9,850′
Map: 82K/7 Duncan Lake 190-891
This glaciated peak is the highest point on “Crystal Ridge” at the headwaters of the N. fork of Glacier Creek. Considered to be part of the Stockdale Group, it was first climbed by Art Maki and R.C. West as part of their JumboCreek-to-Macbeth-Icefields trek of August 1960. It may have been scaled by one or more parties from the KMC’s “Crystal Ridge” hiking camp in 1988, although it’s difficult to tell from the written accounts. Mike HYRniuk, Ray Suomi, and I traversed the peak via the E. ridge and S. face on July 17, 1995. It would fit into the category that Steve describes as “peak bagging for intermediates.”
Once more, road access is a key. Previously, trips to “Crystal Ridge” entailed 90 min. to an hour of bushwhacking. Now there is a new 2WD spur road taking off to the NE from near the end of Glacier Creek’s north fork road. In the summer of 1995, one could drive 2 km. to a landing at 5,800′ (198-852) on the S. bank of the creek draining SW from Starbird Pass.
From this point, descend to the creek and walk its bed NE, with occasional detours into light timber on the N. bank, to the upper of two south-flowing streams (208-869, 6,800′). We took 1 1/4 hours to reach this point, with no bushwhacking. Next, follow this tributary N. through open meadows and up moraines and snow slopes to a 9,000′ col E. of “Mt. Gansner” (201-895). At this point, you are on the S. edge of the Starbird Glacier and could hoof it over to Birthday and Eyebrow quite comfortably. To continue for “Mt. Gansner,” head WSW on the glacier on the N. side of the peak’s NE ridge (crumbly, rotten towers). This is mostly a glacier approach with several hummocks to cross over, a traverse, passage of a bergschrund, and some loose rock bands to negotiate.
All very sporty in a Purcell kind of way–5 hrs. 45 min. to the top. More than 20 peaks of 10,000′ elevation can be seen from the summit.
For descent, there is a direct and easy route. Just east of the summit is a moderately grotty open gully on the S. side that leads to a 600-700′ snow couloir giving onto snowfields below. This would also make a “cinchy” ascent route, although you may find the couloir icy at the top. For the rest of the descent, we followed the western of the two south-flowing creeks draining into the creek we had walked up. By staying on the W. bank and high above the creek, you can effect a painless descent through open timber with virtually no bushwhacking, rejoining the main creek at about 205-863 (3 hrs. from summit to carpark).
Doing “Mt. Gansner” from the E. makes for a very pleasant general mountaineering outing of some 9-10 hours; parties should be equipped for glacier travel.