Photos from this trip can be found here.
Rather than driving three hours on Saturday morning before the scramble, pup and I car camped Friday night in the pullout parking off Highway 20 to get an early start. Weather forecast was said to be mostly sunny, and it indeed turned out to be a gorgeous day. This is a mountain with great views all around, but it requires light bushwhacking and careful route finding.
After walking a short distance on the highway and crossing Swamp Creek, the turnoff into the woods was just on the other side of the creek. Supposedly, I read on SummitPost that there was a faint climbers path to follow for a while, but I never came across it. Although I did see one red taping on a tree branch in the beginning, but none after that.
The first thousand feet was spent getting around short brush that eventually turned into tall bushes with down trees in between. Terrain opened up at 5,300 feet leaving the bushes behind, but the trade-off was getting more down trees on steep slopes. Although I much preferred that than fighting through brush. Views to the south were to be had from this point and onward.
Snow showed up around 6,000 feet and all the way to the summit. I put on snowshoes at 6,500 feet when the snow got a bit too punchy and slightly slushy, so glad I brought them too! South slope was a tad steep and icy so I stayed close to the south ridge from 7,000 feet on with my ice ax. Summit was not visible until around 7,900 feet where the ridge flattened and where there appeared to be a sketchy corniced cirque with the summit cliffs before us. The pup and I got around the sketchy spot by traversing around on the left, stayed close to the exposed rocks, and eventually connected with the gully leading to the summit. The gully felt steeper and it was icy in some places. I brought crampons but only used microspikes to finish the final scramble.
What a gorgeous day! It was everything I had imagined it would look, but more snow than I had anticipated that’s for sure. The first I did after getting on the summit was to check out the two beautiful mountains the pup and I climbed last summer–Golden Horn and Tower Mountain. The mountains looked quite picturesque fully covered in snow. Other than the two, many others near and far like Black Peak, Silver Star Mountain, Mount Logan, Eldorado Peak, Mount Ballard, Azurite Peak, Glacier Peak, and Jack Mountain were all in clear views.
Access: Swamp Creek
Gear: helmet, microspikes, ice axe, snowshoes