Sheep Mountain by Barlow Pass / 靠巴洛山道的綿羊山

Sheep Mountain off Mountain Loop Highway rarely sees people. Even though it’s right next to Barlow Pass, I hadn’t paid the mountain much attention. But looking at the descriptions, it would be a day full of type 2 fun. The trip also put our last weekend’s outing to shame.

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: TBD
Elevation Range: 2280′-8200′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, crampons, microspikes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

Monte Cristo Trail

While we were getting ready, two gals walked by us. It was their first time going up to Gothic Basin. So I showed them the starting point. But I also told them to be sure to keep everything inside their truck out of sight. The area is notorious for car break-ins.

The pups and I walked with them on the road. It has been a while since I’ve been on the path to climb Cadet Peak. Then I noticed that the forest service had since moved the trailhead. It was now a quarter of a mile before the river crossing. They had also put up a big trail sign to help the hikers.

Crossing Sauk River
Crossing Sauk River

See more trip photos here.

Crossing Sauk River

We crossed the river on a big log. Then we went downstream right away. We aimed for the northeast-trending tributary of Sauk River. It would cross an old spur road at 2400′. The other option was to take the Monte Cristo Trail for 1.5 miles. Then at the junction, we would then hike north to the stream.

From the dry stream bed, we went east past the spur road. Then we moved onto the ridge to the north before the ravine took shape. There were lots of down trees and thickets lower on the ridgeline. Soon, the terrain widened. But it also steepened fast. We continued while moving 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

At 3400′, the ridge turned north-northeast. We were able to stay on the crest. But we sometimes bypassed the outcrops by going downhill. Then at 4000′, we moved northeast toward the next gully to the north. It reached down from the summit. Patchy snow showed up at 4800′. Once we went around the buttress at 5200′, we entered the snow gully.

I thought about going up the steep, rocky terrain on the left. But moving up on snow with crampons was much safer. At 5500′, the terrain steepened just as the gully narrowed to shoulder width. I could hear the water running directly below us. So my concern was stepping through the snow. Then I signaled the pup to go ahead first.

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

See more trip photos here.

The Final Stretch

I came off the snow at 5600,’ and I reunited with the pup. Then we went through dense shrubs above the cliffs. Then at 5700′, we safely exited the gully. Soon, we were on the snowfield below the top. The last few hundred feet were on milder terrain. A report mentioned steep heather through this section when snow wasn’t present.

A lone tree marked the entrance to the summit. I kept kicking down loose rocks despite my effort to avoid doing so. After going up two rock steps, we were finally on top. The weather had been cloudy all morning up until now. So we enjoyed an extended stay in an afternoon of sunshine.

Milder terrain below the top
Milder terrain below the top

See more trip photos here.

Sheep Mountain Summit

Like its neighbor Lewis Peak west of Barlow Pass, Sheep Mountain offered immense views. We could also see into both South Fork Stillaguamish and South Fork Sauk River Valleys. Morning clouds around Mountain Loop Highway corridor had since lifted. So we were in for a real treat.

High points in the Stillaguamish River Valley were visible. They included Vesper Peak, Sperry Peak, Morning Star Peak, Big Four Mountain, Dickerman Mountain, and Long Mountain. In the Sauk River Valley, I could see White Chuck MountainDel 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

Down in the gully, I faced in and downclimbed through steep snow. It was too icy to plunge step safely. Then back in the forest, we went through lots of duffs. But microspikes kept me from sliding. Afterward, we found a better spot to bypass the down trees and brush.

It was a lot of hard work to see the views on top of 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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