2018/10/27 – Mount Stickney / 斯蒂克尼山

Bowing out
Bowing out

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Access: Olney Creek Road
Round Trip: 13.5 miles
Elevation Range: 1,680′-5,280′
Gear: helmet; ice axe and crampons packed but not used

An area up by Sultan, WA I hadn’t explored since the long forgotten trip to Wallace Lake. The mountain hadn’t been on the list mainly due to its long, presumably uneventful, road approach. Having hiked several long roads to climbs this summer, I felt mentally prepared to think past the tedium for the end result.

American Beauty
American Beauty

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Increasing clouds with rain after 11 AM, a far cry from the yesterday’s sunny prediction. Nice drive on Sultan Basin Road, pavement ended just one mile before the gated Olney Creek Road. I parked at a small pullout west of the gate, then pup and I began hiking half hour before sunrise.

Brushy lower road
Brushy lower road

Photos from this trip can be found here.

First 1.5 miles to the road junction went by quickly with minimal elevation gain. Several areas in the first half mile had standing water. We somehow missed the turnoff and continued east for another mile in heavy, wet brush to the road’s end. Unwilling to backtrack and get any wetter, we scrambled 650′ upslope in semi-open forest to reach the upper road.

Some views along upper road
Some views along upper road

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Another 1.5 miles of road walk in valley views to the northwest put us at the 3,600′ saddle with minimal views to the east. As the road began to descend east of the saddle, I spotted a faint path 300 yards in on the right. We followed the path while travelling southbound in light brush toward One Acre Lake.

Dive in
Dive in

Photos from this trip can be found here.

At 4,080′ I spotted some flagging that led directly to the beautiful alpine lake nestled in a luscious meadow. The lake drained into South Fork Sultan River, which in turn flowed into Spada Lake. We would have gotten our first sighting of Mount Stickney by the lake, except the sun was glaring above the ridge line straight ahead.

Plus one at One Acre Lake
Plus one at One Acre Lake

Photos from this trip can be found here.

We walked along the west shore to the southeast before leaving the lake basin into the southeast granite gully. In an effort to avoid any more slippage on wet vegetation, we carefully climbed up in the stream bed to the 4,120 bench adorned with several serene tarns.

First view from upper bench
First view from upper bench

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Here I finally got my first good look at the mountain as well as rest of the route. One report advised not to head straight for the mountain from the tarns, so pup and I traversed southwest on heather up the ridge on climbers right. At 4,800′ we traversed south into the big granite basin at 4,850′ below the north face. Clouds slowly crept in right about now.

North face
North face

Photos from this trip can be found here.

To bypass the scree slopes in the summit basin, we headed southeast through boulders to the base of a heather slope at 4,960′, and then ascended 100′ to the nose of the north buttress. Traversing west along the buttress across top of the scree slopes got us to the bottom of the 80′ crux gully, as mentioned in several reports, at 5,080′.

Crux gully
Crux gully

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Up until now, my main concern was potentially having to deal ice in the steep gully. Glad no ice was to be found! We propped ourselves up the first 3′ big step with the aid of several good holds and took our time in getting through mud and dripping water over moss-covered rocks to avoid slipping.

Notch view from notch
Notch view from notch

Photos from this trip can be found here.

The notch at the top of the gully provided first view to the south, including the beautiful, expansive Skykomish River Valley. The rest of the climb was an exposed ridge scramble to 5,240′, followed by a thin ridge crest traverse to the top. It began to get windy with more clouds rolling in from the south.

Summit ridge traverse
Summit ridge traverse

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Once I reoriented myself at the top, I started to identify some of the familiar peaks in the distance. I couldn’t name a single one within the vicinity. Linearly we were actually not very far from the Monte Cristo area by Mountain Loop Highway. But it certainly felt far without a direct access by car.

Spada Lake
Spada Lake

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Weather god was on our side for the better part of the day, everything from Mount Rainier to Mount Baker was visible. Bald Mountain, Mount Pilchuck, Vesper Peak, Morning Star Peak, Del Campo Peak, Sheep Gap Mountain, Baring Mountain, Mount Index, and Mount Persis, and Zekes Mountain to name a few.

East to southeast panoramic view
East to southeast panoramic view

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Increasingly overcast sky was soon followed by the rain after we got back down to Olney Creek Road. Glad that didn’t happen while we were coming down in the gully! I chatted with two backpackers on their way up to camp at One Acre Lake, plus three more who turned around after attempting to get to Lake Stickney.

Thanks for another safe outing
Thanks for another safe outing

Photos from this trip can be found here.

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