Marble Peak Northwest Ridge / 大理石峯西北脊

Marble Peak summit above
Marble Peak summit above

See more trip photos here.

Marble Peak was yet another goal that’s been on the back burner. The real crux and the only thing that kept us from it was the South Fork Stillaguamish River. Hence I could see why the peak doesn’t get many visitors.

The water level was higher during this time last year if I remembered correctly. Back then, I brought an inflatable raft in an attempt to cross the river. The raft came with a 200-lbs capacity that I thought would suffice. But just before I got inside the raft, I realized I never factored in my gear weight. Better luck next time!

Access: Marble Pass historical signage
Round Trip: 5 miles
Elevation Range: 1480′-5160′
Gear: helmet, microspikes, crampons, ice ax
GPS Track: available

Fording the Stillaguamish River

This time we came back with a raft twice the capacity. Since we, or instead, I wanted to put the pursuit to rest once and for all. My only concern for the crossing was the potentially high water level from the spring snowmelt. But after some surveying, I decided to ford the river instead. The water was waist high at its shallowest with the least rapids.

Glad the temperature wasn’t nearly as cold as wading the Miller River. Once we got to the south side, I wrung out the water on my long johns and changed into boots. For the wet brush bash, I used gaiters, waterproof jacket, and pack cover to keep from getting soaked. The forest was still damp of rainwater from the day before.

See more trip photos here.

Marble Peak Northwest Ridge Traverse

Diving right into the light brush behind the rocky shore, we got through some down trees in the wetland. Then we hopped on the northwest ridge and started the fight through more dead trees to 2500′. The brush on the steep terrain consisted of devils club and slide alder. We found game trails on occasion and followed until they dwindled.

Beyond 3500′, there were a couple of sections of steep steps which we bypassed on the left. Eventually, the terrain flattened at 3800′. Here blueberry bushes replaced the slide alder and devils club as we battled our way through to 4000′. Then at 4100′, we dropped down 50′ on the east to bypass a massive outcrop. We regained the ridge crest at 4150′.

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Final Push to Marble Peak Summit

The ridgeline narrowed as the terrain steepened. Off to my left were the unnerving views down into Marble Gulch. A few sections with trees growing on the crest we had to bypass from the west. Then at 5000′, I put on crampons for the 100′ steep snow up to the north saddle. From here, the summit block looked nearly vertical.

But after we traversed the snow arête to the south side, everything looked much better. I stashed snow gear in the trees, and then we proceeded to finish off the last bit of the climb. We got through a small section of loose rocks using solid ledges and good handholds. With a few more steps and we were finally on the broad summit of Marble Peak.

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Another Fine Vantage Point on Marble Peak

Just like on Hall Peak, all that type 2 grunting and cursing came with a rewarding view on top. Though, the brush fight on this peak was nowhere nearly as bad as Hall Peak. After taking a few seconds to catch my breath, I immediately saw the dramatic landscape to the southwest. Not to mention the impressive cirque above Copper Lake.

Copper Lake was truly a hidden gem! Besides seeing it from Vesper Peak, the sight of the lake basin from here couldn’t have been any more direct. What a gorgeous day with everything in sight visible. Morning Star Peak, Del Campo Peak, Mount Pilchuck, Gunn Peak, Glacier Peak, Whitehorse Mountain, Three Fingers, Devils Peak, oh my.

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Extended Summit Stay Plus Outro

Since we most likely won’t revisit Marble Peak anytime soon, we enjoyed an extended stay before leaving the summit. Getting back down the brushy section of the ridge was just as slow as coming up. But the blueberry bushes were much more comfortable to fight through on the way down.

P.S. I was not looking forward to the river crossing at the bottom.

Back to the beginning
Back to the beginning

See more trip photos here.

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