A Cleveland Mountain Do-Over / 克里夫蘭山重新爬

This trip was my second visit to Cleveland Mountain. We had much less optimal weather during the first attempt. My partner and I made it to the upper basin. But then we turned around when we had shorter daylight. Back then, we walked the service road mostly. But this time, the pups and I avoided it on the way up.

Cleveland Mountain summit ahead
Cleveland Mountain summit ahead

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Cleveland Mountain at a Glance

Access: NF-6422
Round Trip: 8 miles
Elevation Range: 1100′-5280′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, snowshoes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the road

National Forest Service Road 6422

The pups and I arrived at the NF-6420 (Money Creek Road) and NF-6422 junction right before 9 AM. Then I parked the car on the left side before crossing the bridge. I had driven on NF-6422 nearly to the first switchback before. But I remembered the road was only decent for the first .1 mile. Then it became rutted with down trees that were hard to bypass. So this time, I decided to walk the first mile instead.

We left the road at the first switchback. Then we crossed a tiny stream and continued on an old logging trail. In the first hundred feet, we left the path and scrambled uphill next to the water. It was the typical brushy and down tree-infested approach. We crossed NF-6422 a total of ten times. I saw snow on the roadway, and it was slushy. So I would have put on snowshoes much sooner had we followed it.

The road bend
The road bend

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Getting to the Upper Basin

The dense forest went from 1750′ to 2050′. Then terrain became steep from 2400′ up to 3500′. Patchy snow appeared at 2800′, with more snow soon after that. The snowpack in the shade was firm. So I was able to wait to put on snowshoes at 3600′.

One report suggested bypassing the 4400′ cliff bands by sidestepping on the steep west slopes. But there was more snow coverage on the ridge this time. So we went over the ridgetop and then went down into the basin on the south side. The frozen tarn we saw before was now under much snow.

Cleveland Mountain from the upper basin
Cleveland Mountain from the upper basin

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The Final Stretch on Cleveland Mountain

Snow in the meadow was beginning to soften under direct sunlight. But it was still manageable without postholing too much. The summit was visible as we traveled southeast on gentle slopes. Then at 4850′, we went up to the northeast ridge after going through two steep sections.

The terrain looked steep from below. But we managed to find a way to bypass the snow-covered outcrops from the east. Soon, we were on the summit of Cleveland Mountain.

South view
South view

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Cleveland Mountain Summit Plus Outro

I carefully examined the snow arête to make sure that there were no cornices. Above the dry rocks, I dug out a flat area to dodge the breeze. But shortly after we arrived on the summit, the wind had stopped. What a gorgeous day! Views were very much the same as two weeks ago.

But this time, I saw more of Highway 2 but less Lennox Mountain. South Fork Skykomish River quietly flowed through the town of Skykomish. Afterward, we went back down on our tracks. But when we reached the road at 1750′, I decided to hike it instead. So we could avoid the brush. Then we walked the last mile to the bottom and out to the car.

Lennox Mountain
Lennox Mountain

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