A Guide to Climbing in Glacier National Park

By Beacon Staff

Blake Passmore decided the thrill of scaling mountain peaks in Glacier National Park was too special not to share. So he set out to publish an updated guidebook for mountaineering in the park, with an emphasis on routes for beginning and intermediate climbers.

Passmore, a mental health specialist in Kalispell, released his 192-page illustrated guidebook “Climb Glacier National Park” last year and quickly learned there was a market for it. To date, the book has sold more than 2,000 copies, robust sales for a Montana guidebook with a very specific niche.

Buoyed by that success, Passmore has released a second volume of “Climb Glacier National Park,” focusing on climbs in the Two Medicine Valley and Firebrand Pass. The first volume covered Logan Pass, the Garden Wall and Siyeh Bend.

“I just want people to fall in love with climbing in the park and to see it for how special it really is,” Passmore said. “And they can pass it along for the next generation.”

For decades, the mountaineering bible for Glacier National Park has been “A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park,” written by J. Gordon Edwards, who is called “the patron saint of climbing in Glacier National Park.”

Edwards’ popular and respected book is still in print and sold throughout the region. Don Scharfe, owner of Rocky Mountain Outfitter in Kalispell and a longtime mountaineering enthusiast, sells both Edwards’ and Passmore’s books at his store, with each having its place in a climber’s library.

Scharfe said Passmore’s book is ideal for beginners. With its meticulous research and wealth of information specific to each route, a beginner could pick up Passmore’s book and immediately take on one of the routes described in the guide, assuming the beginner’s fitness level is up to snuff.

Climb Glacier National Park

Book cover

“He’ll take a non-technical route and give you 16 pages of information on it,” he said. “It’s really for someone entering ‘peak bagging.’ They can take Blake’s book and go out, as long as they’re in shape and have the desire.”

Scharfe said many hikers are hesitant about leaving the trail. Passmore’s book, he said, may encourage people to branch out a little bit.

“I think this book would give a lot of people the confidence to get off trail,” Scharfe said.

As Scharfe noted, Passmore’s books are highly detailed. Each route contains pertinent information such as GPS points, maps and relevant statistics, along with photos containing map routes, arrows and other information. John VanArendonk, Scott Burry and Brady Roy are listed as contributors on the book’s cover.

For his second volume, which contains 27 routes for 22 peaks, Passmore and his climbing partners worked throughout the summer last year to gather data for the book. Passmore, 47, said both safety and preserving the landscape are priorities in his book. The second volume contains information on sacred American Indian sites.

“People are moving rocks and unintentionally destroying a lot of things that are sacred to the Native American people,” he said.

Passmore has already taken orders for the recently released second volume from 20 different states. He plans to release at least a third and fourth volume as well. The third, expected for release in 2014, will focus on the Lake McDonald, Northern Highline and Sperry Glacier Basin areas. The fourth, expected for release in 2016, will be on Many Glacier.

“It’s been a fun process,” Passmore said. “It’s really enjoyable.”

For more information, including local stores where the book is available, visit www.climbglacier.com.