See more trip photos here.
Hello gorgeous weekend! The unexpected midweek snow meant lots of fresh powder and greater avalanche danger on the Cascade crest. So while waiting for the deeper snow to settle, we resorted to what some refer to as a dumpster dive. A place like Silo Mountain with a long approach and snow on the road was a perfect place to hide out.
Not sure which is better. Breaking trail hours on end through logging territory to a much lesser known destination and enjoying absolute solitude? Or, taking a well-beaten path half the distance and arriving on a popular and noisy summit? I had been eyeing Silo Mountain this season, but like Lyman Hill, the 14-mile round-trip road walk was tough to swallow.
The Lowdown on Silo Mountain
Access: Gilligan Creek Road
Round Trip: 13.8 miles
Elevation Range: 120′-4150′
Download GPS track
The Long Road Walk
There was enough snow on the road to keep from getting to the gate in the last 500′. I could have put on snowshoes from the getgo. But instead, I waited until we came to the first clearing strewn with logging debris. Ample snow coverage made it possible to cut the first long switchback. An area that would otherwise be a major pain to get through. We got our first look at Mount Baker.
We got back onto the road at 1100′, with no other shortcutting options but to stay on the road. In part because the super dense vegetation between switchbacks wasn’t worth the time and effort to scramble through. At the 1800′ gravel pit, we attempted to cut uphill to the minor ridge parallelling the main road. But we got right back on the road after the initial long struggle through soft snow.
After walking the road for a while, it became evident that the snow wasn’t getting any shallower. With the long road ahead, I wanted to get off the road and make our way up to the ridge. So we made another shortcut attempt at 2200′, and this time we attained the minor ridge onto the next segment. Perhaps we should’ve gone to Big Cultus Mountain instead.
The Seemingly Endless Approach
The unmarked road on the ridge had less snow, but just enough to send the thighs and paws into overdrive. The mile between Point 3302 and the junction on Haystack Mountain’s south saddle seemed to have taken the longest. The next and final mile to the summit harbored the steepest snow out of the entire seven-mile stretch. We cut the first switchback through semi-open forest.
We got back into the forest at some point and scrambled a short while on shallower snow. But when the vegetation suddenly became dense again, it was clear that it wasn’t worth the extra effort. Fighting through tree branches and occasionally punching through the snow wasn’t any better off than plowing the road.
When we finally arrived at the base of Silo Mountain, it was merely another 200′ gain to reach the top. The amount of snow and trees blanketing the steep west slopes wasn’t conducive in locating an ideal entry. So instead, we followed another unmarked road around the south of the summit block and entered the forest there. Fresh powder continued through to the summit.
The Silo Mountain Summit
Surprise! Another sub 5000′, forested summit with limited views. It just so happened that the only small opening faced the northeast–Twin Sisters Mountains, Mount Baker, and Mount Shuksan. I couldn’t see much of Mount Shuksan as clouds were shrouding it the entire time. We stayed long enough to rest our tired legs before heading back down.
Despite the painfully slow road walk up, we were able to take advantage of our tracks for a faster descent.
See more trip photos here.