Hozomeen Mountain by Canada / 靠加拿大的霍佐民山

Hozomeen Mountain with morning inversion
Hozomeen Mountain with morning inversion

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I first saw Hozomeen Mountain from the top of Ruby Mountain eight years ago. At the time, this double-summited, awe-inspiring structure at the head of Ross Lake looked out of reach. Over the years, I continued to admire the mountain’s beauty from other high points. But due to the remoteness, it remained on the back burner list until now.

The Lowdown on Hozomeen Mountain

Access: Skyline II Trailhead
Round Trip: 24.7 miles
Elevation Range: 1800′-8066′
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice ax, ice tool
GPS Track: available

The Drive to Skyline II Trailhead

Friday evening traffic added an extra hour to the already long drive time. It wasn’t until this trip that I finally realized the vastness of the Skagit River Valley. Like many service roads, the 34-mile stretch on Silver Skagit Road wasn’t very eventful. Though, it was in decent shape with minimal potholes.

One thing that stood out to me, as we made our way to the trailhead, was the inconspicuous recreation signs. Most of the pullout areas were small, and not all of them had a designated parking area. I expected to see more traffic on the road given that it’s on the way to Ross Lake. Only two cars drove past us as they made their way out.

A long way to go
A long way to go

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Skyline II Trail to Hozameen Ridge

The sky was overcast when we left the mosquito-infested trailhead. Then it turned sunny in the late morning. Overall, the trail was in decent shape, just brushy in some places. Taking the time to bypass many large down trees in the lower elevation made the hike feel even longer. At mile 4.5, we officially entered Manning Provincial Park. We’d remain in the park until our exit the next day.

Three running streams in the forest provided enough water through to camp. The trail gained a little over 4000′ in the eight miles up to the Hozameen Ridge (Canadian spelling) junction. The terrain gradually opened up once we got above 3500′. There was no more running water on the ridge. Not until the next day on our way to the base of the mountain.

Approaching the ridge
Approaching the ridge

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Monument 74 Peak Camp 6345′

From the junction, we continued to hike south on the rolling terrain. At mile 10.5, we finally reached our camp on Monument 74 Peak. The US border was now merely .1 mile away to the south. But may I say how tall and daunting the north face of Hozomeen looked from here? Glad I had seen the mountain’s profile. Otherwise, one would likely assume that it was vertical!

I contemplated climbing the mountain as it was still early in the day. But then I thought we’d rest after the long approach to camp. Besides, the snow most likely would have turned into mashed potatoes by now. Even from here, views of Chilliwack peaks and the Picket Range were excellent. The most recognizable feature east of here was the high and mighty Castle Peak.

Monument 74 Peak camp

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The Evening Flow

The forecast had called for light wind throughout the night. So I set up camp on the crest next to a big snow patch. This way, we could enjoy more views with immediate access to snow water for cooking. I should have brought something to read to pass the time.

Increasing clouds over the Cascades obscured beautiful evening colors. I wanted to get some sleep first and then take some night photos. But like last week, it was hard to fall asleep with it still light outside. And, for whatever reason, the pup was on edge this evening. He kept wanting to get outside the tent.

Skagit River Valley in the evening

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Hozomeen Mountain Climb

It was a moonlit night, so I went right back to sleep after seeing the bright sky. We got up before dawn and then started moving by 6 AM. The temperature inversion had begun to form before sunrise, but it never reached the peak. Since we had to descend to the 5800′ saddle, we were in the clouds for a while.

The sight of the obelisk (Monument 74) fascindated me every time. Still, I wondered just how much labor it took to create the international crop line. From the saddle, we followed cairns into the forest on a faint climbers’ path. Before long, we were out into the wide-open, albeit hazy, north basin of Hozomeen Mountain. But of course, a climb this time of the year would not be complete without the echoing of screaming marmots! Sorry for invading your space, folks.

In search of Hozomeen
In search of Hozomeen

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North Basin to Middle Snowfield

Eventually, we emerged from the clouds after gaining a couple of hundred feet in the basin. Though, the inversion persisted for a while. The imposing north face of Hozomeen Mountain was now staring down. The middle snowfield to the start of the rock climb looked so steep from below! I put on crampons at the flat area below the lower snowfield.

Here I noticed days-old boot tracks and proceeded to followed them until they dwindled halfway up the snow. We stopped on a dirt ramp above the snowfield to observe the terrain. Then I remembered the photo I took from the camp showed a broken snow finger connecting the two fields. So instead, I scrambled on rocks to the bottom of the steeper middle snowfield. But not before I asked the pup to stay put.

Top of the lower snowfield
Top of the lower snowfield

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Middle Snowfield to Top of 4th Class Rocks

Of course, the “stay” command didn’t last long. I guess the pup wasn’t too happy about staying behind and came up just minutes later. So I said, “Okay, you will stay at the bottom of the rock climb before things get spicy!”. The ice tool I packed for the trip came in handy through the steep snow. I used it together with the ice ax to move more efficiently.

I stashed my gear below the class 4 rocks above the middle snowfield. Then I looked down at the view of the inversion over the valley floor. While I gazed at the clouds, the pup decided to continue onto the crux. “Um, excuse me, mister?” As I looked on in disbelief. I guess the guy had done one scramble too many. So for the next 100′, we played leapfrog on poor rock conditions until the angle of the ridge slowly tapered.

The ridge route
The ridge route

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Final Stretch to Hozomeen Summit

Once we got over the crux, the rest of the climb was on class 3 terrain. But the exposure remained. We stayed on the ridge crest and bypassed the upper snowfield from the west. When I stepped onto the broad summit, I immediately looked for the south peak. Yep, it was just as gnarly, though impressive, as it looked from camp! Views were fantastic from this vantage point. It’s not every day that I got to see the North Cascades from the north.

Nohokomeen Glacier was just stunning. Too bad I only got a glimpse of it in a whiteout on Jack Mountain. The Picket Range and the Chilliwack peaks dominated the western skyline. Castle Peak was the tallest structure to the east. There were also views to the Snowfield group, Inspiration Traverse group, plus many other high points. The coolest thing was that I finally got to see Ruby Mountain from the other end of the lake!

South panoramic view
South panoramic view

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Quick Descent and Ascend Back to Camp

On the descent, we slowly got through the crux without a hitch. The pup didn’t seem to need my guidance as he retraced his steps; I let him do his thing. I, on the other hand, tested out EVERY single rock through the steepest section. The pup watched tensely from below. The snow was still in decent shape; not too slushy yet. I faced in and used the ice tool again for extra security until I could start plunge stepping.

We took a break by the border since we missed the views this morning. After getting back up to the camp, we both took a long and much-needed nap. But not before the warm weather brought out the full army of mosquitos. Later, I took my sweet time packing up and periodically glanced over at Hozomeen Mountain. “Great teamwork, pup!”

International crop line
International crop line

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Long Hike out to Trailhead

By the time we started moving again, the weather had become even warmer. So the 2.5-mile rolling ridge walk back to the Skyline II Trail felt like an eternity. Though by the time we got back to the junction, most mosquitoes had vanished. But the minute we stopped for a break down in the forest, a handful of them would show up. So it was best to keep walking and not to donate any more blood involuntarily.

After fighting more mosquitoes back at the car, we then spent the next 4.5 hour on the road home.

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

See more trip photos here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Wow! That looks amazing. I’ve enjoyed following your hikes and using them as a guide for planning my own. Keep up the great work and inspiration!

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