Mount Ballard the Hard Way / 吃苦頭地上巴拉德山

Like most Bulgerists, I, too, own a copy of Summit Routes by Bongiovanni and Stephenson. Since the book has been my Bible, I didn’t think to compare it with the actual Bulger List. So we ended up climbing Mount Ballard by mistake. Glad that it at least satisfied the 400P List.

Kodak moment on Mount Ballard
Kodak moment on Mount Ballard

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Mount Ballard at a Glance

Access: Canyon Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 1880′-8340′
Gear: helmet
GPS track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

Mill Creek Approach

Last weekend, I went up to Sperry Peak while the dogs were still at boarding. So this week, it was back to getting out with the pups. This trip turned out to be one which we would never forget! In the end, it took a lot of will power to finish the climb. The six-mile hike to Mill Creek Trail was smooth sailing. But four of the five miles on that trail was brutal.

I only found later that the trail hadn’t been in much use. At least not since the closing of the Azurite Mine. So much of the path was either missing or under heavy slide alder. Not to mention the massive shrubs and down trees we sidestepped through along the steep hills.

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Azurite Mine Camp

It took us four hours to get through the first four miles. So we arrived at the mine in the late afternoon. Summit Routes appeared to have included information from old trips. It sounded too smooth of an approach. But then I wondered whether the authors ever climbed the mountain by going this way. In the end, we had to let go of Azurite Peak to focus on Mount Ballard.

The brush looked to be continuing up to Azurite Pass. Or so as far as my eyes could see. So it wouldn’t make sense for us to keep going. At the same time, my head was still trying to process the amount of bushwhacking we had undergone. So we were ready to shut our eyes after settling into camp.

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Mount Ballard Climb

We camped at the bottom of Mount Ballard. So the route was visible mostly, and it looked straightforward from down below. But I couldn’t yet see the summit. The steep and rocky terrain made going up much slower. There were two cruxes for us in getting up to the summit block.

First, getting through the brush lower on the mountain was very annoying. Secondly, finding the correct gully for the final stretch took some time. Then the pups also needed help getting above a couple of steps. Other than that, we didn’t have other significant issues.

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Mount Ballard Summit Plus Outro

What a beautiful day! We enjoyed seeing many of the highest mountains in Washington. But I couldn’t take my eyes off Azurite Peak. The impressive high point sat stoically on the southern end of the jagged ridgeline. I’ll have to come back and climb it later.

We had a long evening ahead of us. As we still needed to get back down to camp. Then we would hike back out to the car. But I tried not to worry about that while enjoying the views.

See more trip photos here.

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