Montana is very mountainous there are at least 100 mountain ranges and sub-ranges. They are beautiful, tall, and filled with unique fauna and flora. Although many people hike mountain trails daily, there is always a risk. It’s rare for an accident to happen on a mountain, however, it’s still good to be prepared.
Interestingly, some mountains in Montana are considered more dangerous than others. Follow along to learn about the most dangerous mountains in Montana and why.
Granite Peak in the Beartooth Mountains
Climbing mountains comes with a risk. Anything can happen, including animal attacks, dehydration, sickness, and accidents. Although Montana doesn’t have the most mountain-related accidents, it’s likely because the number of mountain climbers is lower than in other states. Still, some gruesome and heartbreaking deadly accidents have happened in the many mountains, which is why it is wise to know about the dangerous mountains in Montana.
Every year, some people attempt to climb Granite Peak within the Beartooth Mountains. The peak sits at an elevation of 12,807 feet. This is the highest natural point in Montana and the 10th highest in the country. Not many climbers attempt this peak since it’s considered to some as the second most difficult state high point to climb.
In 2020, a few climbers experienced accidents while climbing Granite Peak. While trying to cross a dangerous area called the Snow Bridge, a man slipped and fell 100 feet. He was rescued. However, four men from Idaho the same day experienced another accident while rappelling on a slope. They anchored into a large border, but it gave away. One of the four was injured, while the others died after falling about 1,000 feet. These are just two incidents.
Mount Cleveland is another one of the most dangerous mountains in Montana. It is a large mountain in Glacier National Park. Although it’s not the tallest mountain in the state, it boasts some spectacular views and daring slopes. This beautiful mountain sits at an elevation of 10,479 feet. Although some people may have climbed Mount Cleveland previously, the first recorded ascent was in 1920 by Frank B. Wynn. Most climbers begin their adventure in the Waterton Valley. Other routes are considered more dangerous and best left to professionals. Although this mountain is relatively safe, a shocking accident killed five climbers, making it one of the most deadly mountains in Montana.
In 1969, just two days after Christmas, five brave mountain climbers were swept away and killed by an avalanche. Clare Pogreba, Ray Martin, Jerry Kanzler, Jim Anderson, and Mark Levitan attempted to climb the mountain and told everyone not to worry and that they would be back by January 2nd. However, they didn’t make it back. Instead, on January 3rd, families, friends, and volunteers searched for the boys. They found ski tracks leading to an abandoned base camp and some footprints in the snow. Because of the harsh conditions, their bodies weren’t found for another five months. This tragic accident changed their community forever.
Dusty Star Mountain
The Dusty Star Mountain is popular in Montana and is one of the most dangerous mountains in Montana. It sits at an elevation of 8,573 feet. While it’s not the tallest mountain in Montana, it is widely photographed. Tourists can see a spectacular view of this mountain near Wild Goose Island. This stunning mountain is also very old and first started uplifting 170 million years ago. During winter, Dusty Star Mountain is very cold, with temperatures dropping well below −10 °F.
Sadly, a few accidents and tragedies have claimed lives here. For example, in 2022 two friends and mountain climbing veterans, Brian Kennedy and Jack Beard fell to their deaths while climbing the sheer north face of Dusty Star Mountain. They were both well-known in their community and were part of the Glacier Mountaineering Society. A recovered photo of the two standing on the summit of the 8,084-foot peak has experts believing they fell on their descent between 600 to 1,000 feet.
Another dangerous mountain in Montana is Lone Mountain. It’s in the Madison Range. You can find the summit in Lee Metcalf Wilderness within Gallatin and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests. The elevation of the mountain is 11,167 feet. A large ski resort, Big Sky Resort also occupies parts of Lone Mountain.
While most of the mountain-related deaths in this article have to do with climbing, skiing, and snowboarding also comes with a risk. In 2012, a 24-year-old skier, Bradley Gardner, lost his life after going out alone. About a decade later, a snowboarder also lost his life. On the North Summit Snowfield of Lone Mountain, 29-year-old Chandler Pelletier of Belgrade fell to his death. He was found unresponsive and sadly while officials tried to revive the snowboarder, they were unsuccessful.
Rising Wolf Mountain
Next on our list of the most dangerous mountains in Montana is Rising Wolf Mountain, another popular mountain in the Lewis Range, within Glacier National Park. The mountain has an elevation of 9,513 feet. The peak is very noticeable since it rises above the Two Medicine region. Rising Wolf Mountain experiences cold and harsh winters with wind chill factors below −30 °F. Another name for this mountain is “Mahkuyi-opuahsin”, meaning, “the way the wolf gets up”. This name was given by the Blackfoot who consider the Two Medicine region as sacred ground.
The most recent incident in Rising Wolf Mountain happened in July 2022. A 79-year-old Florida man fell while climbing an off-trail slope with a group of friends. His friends called for help and he was transported by helicopter to the Two Medicine Ranger Station. However, the air ambulance crew pronounced the climber dead from his injuries. He likely fell several hundred feet.
Another beautiful and tall mountain in Glacier National Park is Mount Brown. The mountain sits at an elevation of 8,589 feet. While visiting Mount Brown, you can also see the historic Mount Brown Fire Lookout built in 1928. It’s located on the southwestern slopes of Mount Brown. Interestingly, there is a constant debate over who the mountain is named after. One theory suggests it was named for William Brown of Chicago, while others believe it was named for Louis Brown, a Montana pioneer.
Sadly, another life tragically ended in Mount Brown. Winslow Nichols, of Columbia Falls, a 19-year-old climber was reported missing by his friend and climbing partner. The two planned to climb the mountain together. Winslow Nichols fell to his death and his body was recovered after being spotted by a helicopter.
Summary of the Most Dangerous Mountains in Montana
|1||Granite Peak in the Beartooth Mountains|
|3||Dusty Star Mountain|
|5||Rising Wolf Mountain|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Chris LaBasco
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