Harrison Glacier

Walton Mountain and Harrison Glacier

Harrison Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in Glacier National Park, yet one of the least seen. Sitting on the western side of the continental divide astride might Mount Jackson and Walton Mountain (the spire in the center of the picture), the easiest way to reach this glacier involves ascending another glacier (Jackson) before climbing over the continental divide to descend onto Harrison Glacier. Named after Frank Harrison, a Blackfeet man from the town of Saint Mary, Montana, this glacier is truly a spectacle. The Blackfeet name for this glacier is “Old Man’s Daughter”, with “Old Man Ice” being the name of nearby Blackfoot Glacier. In 2013, we had the pleasure of traversing Harrison Glacier with friends on our successful attempt on Walton Mountain, one of the least-climbed peaks in Glacier (in fact it is one of the 6 “technical-only” peaks designated by the Glacier Mountaineering Society). Over 2 miles of roped glacial traversing was required, one way, over 4 miles round-trip. Early glaciologist and Glacier explorer F.E. Matthes was especially impressed by Harrison Glacier in 1904 when he wrote “Descending 3,000 feet in tumultuous ice-cascades, this magnificent glacier exceeds all others we have seen”. As seen in the picture, the scenery is beyond beautiful. The various colors of rock layers juxtaposed with the glacier, in addition to the thick green carpet of old-growth forest in the deep valley below, with the beautiful surrounding peaks capping it all off displays the alpine majesty Glacier National Park is most known for.

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