Sheep Mountain via Barlow Pass by Mountain Loop Highway / 綿羊山

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Sheep Mountain by Barlow Pass and Lewis Peak of Mountain Loop Highway sees few visitors. Its 6166′ height may be short compared with the neighboring Monte Cristo peaks. But the views make all the time and effort worthwhile.

Sheep Mountain summit above
Sheep Mountain summit above

See more trip photos here.

For Sheep Mountain in the Pasayten Wilderness, check out this post.

Sheep Mountain at a Glance

Access: Gothic Basin Trailhead
Round Trip: 8.5 miles
Elevation Range: 2280′-6166′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, crampons, microspikes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

Monte Cristo Trail

Two gals going up to Gothic Basin for the first time walked past us while we were getting ready. I pointed out the starting point before telling them to keep things inside their truck out of sight. The area is notorious for break-ins.

It’s been a while since I went up to Cadet Peak. After walking with the two folks a bit, we reached the new trailhead .25 mile before the river crossing. Then we went our separate ways by the new, big sign.

Crossing Sauk River
Crossing Sauk River

See more trip photos here.

Crossing Sauk River

Soon, the pup and I crossed the river on a big log and went downstream. We aimed for the first tributary of Sauk River, which intersected an old road at 2400′. The other option was to hike Monte Cristo Trail to mile .75 and go north to the creek.

We crossed the road from the dry stream bed before moving onto the rib to the north. Many windfalls and thickets lower down, but soon, the terrain opened. We traversed parallel to the ravine on animal tracks.

Put your paws where I can see them
Put your paws where I can see them

See more trip photos here.

Sheep Mountain Snow Gully Crux

The ridge veered north-northeast at 3400′. We stayed on the crest but sometimes bypassed outcrops by dropping. At 4000′, we went into the next gully and later found patchy snow at 4800′. Soon, we went around the buttress at 5200′ and entered the snow gully.

Rather than scrambling rocks, it was safer to stick to the snow with crampons. At 5500′, the terrain steepened at the constriction, where I heard the water running below us. In fear of plunging in, I signaled the pup to go first.

Snow gully crux below Sheep Mountain summit
Snow gully crux below Sheep Mountain summit

See more trip photos here.

The Final Stretch

I stepped off the snow at 5600′ and reunited with the pup before going through dense shrubs above the cliffs. Soon, we exited the gully at 5700′ and went on the snowfield. The last few hundred feet were on mild terrain, where it’d be steep heather when snow wasn’t present.

A lone tree marked the entrance to the summit, where I kept kicking down loose rocks. Then we reached the top after going up two more rock steps. It had been cloudy all morning, but we enjoyed an afternoon of sunshine.

Mild terrain below the top
Mild terrain below the top

See more trip photos here.

Sheep Mountain Summit Views

Like Lewis Peak west of Barlow Pass, Sheep Mountain also offered immense views. Morning clouds over Mountain Loop Highway had since lifted. So we could see both South Fork Stillaguamish River and South Fork Sauk River.

Peaks along the Stillaguamish River included Vesper Peak, Sperry Peak, Morning Star Peak, Big Four Mountain, Dickerman Mountain, and Long Mountain. In the other valley were White Chuck Mountain, Del Campo Peak, Bedal Peak, and Mount Pugh.

Gemini Peaks to Big Four Mountain panoramic view
Gemini Peaks to Big Four Mountain panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

Outro

I faced in to downclimb in the gully since it was too icy to plunge step. Back in the forest, microspikes kept me from sliding down the slick duff. Afterward, we found a better spot to bypass down trees and rubble.

It was a lot of work for the views atop this mountain!

Thanks for letting us have a good day
Thanks for letting us have a good day

See more trip photos here.

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