Hozomeen Mountain South Peak via Hozomeen Lake / 霍佐民山南峯

  • Reading time:22 mins read

Hozomeen Mountain South Peak is the evil twin of the double-summitted mountain. It’s also one of the top ten challenging peaks in the state. Cascade Alpine Guide suggests the southeast be the least committing of the three known routes.

Hozomeen Mountain South Peak in full display
Hozomeen Mountain South Peak in full display

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Hozomeen Mountain South Peak at a Glance

Access: Hozomeen Lake Trailhead
Round Trip: 12 miles
Elevation Range: 1720′-8003′
Gear: helmet, rope
Route Info: Cascade Alpine Guide, Eric Eames, trailcatjim
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

Hozomeen Lake Trail

Hozomeen Lake Trailhead is outside a water treatment facility by Hozomeen Campground. So I expected to see swarms of hikers. I’d assume the size and the closeness of Hozomeen Lake would’ve drawn many people.

But to my surprise, there were no cars when I pulled into the parking lot. Several families were occupying the campsites nearby. Other than the birds chirping, it was a pretty quiet morning.

This way to Hozomeen Mountain South Peak
This way to Hozomeen Mountain South Peak

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Bypassing Hozomeen Lake

Despite being remote and close to the Canadian border, the trail was in excellent shape. Soon, I enjoyed a leisurely 1.5-mile walk as the path winding its way through the lush, open forest.

Before long, I had reached east of Little Jackass Mountain. Whoever came up with that name sure had a unique sense of humor. Soon, I left the trail at 2400′ and went east toward Hozomeen Lake‘s outlet.

Hozomeen Creek through the forest
Hozomeen Creek through the forest

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Hozomeen Mountain South Peak West Rib

After leaving the trail, I crossed Hozomeen Creek another quarter of a mile. Then I tried to fight my way out of a sea of Devil’s club. Afterward, I stayed north of the creek bed through the trees.

The dry bed came off the southwest peak’s west basin. Many down trees strewed the lower terrain. But the open forest had made going through that part more manageable.

Dry creek bed below the southwest peak
Dry creek bed below the southwest peak

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Through Down Tree Terrain

The terrain was brushier past the debris. So at 3000′ north of Hozomeen Lake, I went out into the creek bed to avoid the shrubs. But before the terrain steepened any more, I went back into the trees at 3200′.

Past 3800′ were even more windfalls. So I avoided them by staying close to the edge above the ravine. But at some point, the cliffs forced me back into the sea of down trees.

No way to bypass these
No way to bypass these

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Hozomeen Mountain South Peak West Basin

For the next 1000′, I tried creative ways to skirt around the logs. As I neared 5000′, I moved east into the basin. Naturally, the bottom of the gully, top of the ravine, held massive boulders that created the bottleneck.

It’s been a dry season so far without any leftover snow. So I didn’t expect to find water higher on the mountain. But I made sure to fill up my only bottle and the 2.5-liter pouch for climbing and camp.

Hozomeen Mountain South Peak looming above the west basin
Hozomeen Mountain South Peak looming above the west basin

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Through Slab Heaven

The section of red scree mixed with heather came after the giant boulders. It was perhaps the most tedious part of the climb. Then came the beautiful slab wall at 5800′.

For the next 1000′, I went through slabs to the saddle as the terrain continued to steepen. At one point, the top of Hozomeen Mountain showed up behind me. It was surreal to see since we were only there in June!

South view
Hozomeen Mountain North Peak’s cameo

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6800′ Saddle Camp

It seemed to have taken forever to reach the 6800′ saddle. But I felt more pumped about climbing the peak when I saw the south view. The impressive Jack Mountain sat stoically amidst the sea of Cascade peaks.

It was only mid-afternoon. So I figured I would climb now and have a relaxing day tomorrow. After dropping off my overnight gear, I scoped out the terrain and then down the south slopes.

South view from the saddle
South view from the saddle

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En Route to Hozomeen Mountain South Peak

Glad I didn’t pack crampons for this trip as there was no snow. I brought the ice ax out of habit but didn’t end up using it. Shortly after dropping 200′ on the south side, I traversed east to the access notch.

Before long, I had rounded the ridge from the notch. Then the impressive south peak came into view suddenly. But before I could go near it, I needed to traverse a broad gully.

Southwest Peak from the access notch
Southwest Peak from the access notch

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South Route

The gully had terrible rocks, but I carefully traversed to the other side. Soon, I went onto another rib at 7100′. Then I stayed on the crest and worked toward the summit ridge at 7600′.

Shortly, a small snow-filled gully stopped me in my tracks. Then it forced me onto the steep south slopes. Glad ledges and decent holds took me through this part without a hitch.

Hozomeen Mountain South Peak south face
Hozomeen Mountain South Peak south face

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Hozomeen Mountain South Peak Summit Ridge

The minute I stepped onto the ridge, I could see the rest of the route. Hard to believe how narrow the ridgeline was. Then I took a second to savor the dramatic view of the north peak from a notch.

Out of curiosity, I carefully peeked into the north basin, and it was a straight-up plunge! Even the south peak’s north side was straight-up vertical! Talk about vertigo!

North Peak from the notch
North Peak from the notch

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West Ridge Traverse

Despite having gone through areas of loose rocks, the ridge had more to offer. So I paid particular attention to the scree-covered ledges. One slip on those tiny grains would instantly send me down the mountain. Eek!

I mainly traversed the south side of the ridgeline. Soon, I reached the outcrops with an overhang above a loose scree path. Then I somehow had mistaken it for the crux of the climb.

Hozomeen Mountain South Peak summit ridge traverse
Hozomeen Mountain South Peak summit ridge traverse

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Through Sketchy Terrain

After going above the overhang, the “5.6” rating felt a little too smooth. But I didn’t think much of it and continued on the wobbly ridge. The crest seemed to have narrowed significantly up higher.

Higher on the ridge was an area with greater exposure. But I tried hard to ignore my peripheral vision as I caught the drop-offs on both sides. Glad there were lots of solid holds for me to move safely.

South view
South view

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Hozomeen Mountain South Peak Crux

Below the summit laid a wide slanted ledge. As I walked up and down, I couldn’t find the gully to the top but a 15′ wall before me. So I took a moment to rethink my steps as it got disorienting.

Then it soon dawned on me that this WAS the 5.6 crux and not the overhang from earlier. Whew! Glad that I caught the error earlier. Otherwise, I would’ve tried finding another way to bypass the headwall.

Looking down the south face
Looking down the south face

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The Final Stretch

I carefully tested everything as I made my way up the rock face. Glad that nothing had peeled off through this part. Then it was a relief to see the anchor on the platform and know I was still on track!

Compare this peak with the main summit, and it was like night and day! The ridgeline seemed to go on forever. Plus, there was more scrambling on class 3-4 terrain, including the chimney finish.

The final stretch on Hozomeen Mountain South Peak
The final stretch on Hozomeen Mountain South Peak

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Hozomeen Mountain South Peak Summit

As with many other challenging climbs, it took much time to come here. The Picket Range and the Chilliwack peaks stole the show on the west. The gorgeous Jack Mountain sat front and center with Nohokomeen Glacier.

Before long, the evening sun had started to cast shadows over the western peaks. But it lit up Castle Peak and its nearby high points quite nicely. What an incredible day it was to be out in nowhere!

Eastern panoramic view
Eastern panoramic view

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Solitude in Pasayten Wilderness

It was exciting to make it up here today, even though it’s much later. But at least there was still daylight to make it back to the camp before dark. Views were similar to the north peak but with a more open south view.

I wish I could have stayed longer, but 30 minutes was all the time I could spare. Before long, I began to make my way down the steep terrain. I was a bit anxious, but I worked on breathing as I rappelled off the crux.

South-to-west panoramic view
South-to-west panoramic view

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Quick Descent Back to Camp

I soon reached the overhang and rappelled off the fixed bolt. It was even more nerve-racking going the other way through the sharp ridgeline. But past that point, the rest of the way to the notch and back to camp was a breeze.

Earlier above the crux, I heard a loud thump below the platform. I peeked over, and a mountain goat had casually made its way over the arête as it glanced back. But before I could take a decent photo of the mountain climber, it went out of sight.

Safe travels
Safe travels

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Underneath the Stars and the Moon

The flat area where I bivvied was big enough for a solo tent. After a savory dinner, I listened to a few podcasts and then turned in under a starry sky. It grew windier at night, but I stayed behind a small bush to be out of most of it.

The moon rose half an hour before midnight behind the south peak. I woke up at midnight to take star trail photos with less light pollution. Eventually, I fell asleep at 1:30 AM and had a surprisingly restful night.

Hozomeen Mountain South Peak's dreams
Hozomeen Mountain South Peak’s dreams

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Lazy Morning Exit

The following day, I stayed in bed until the wind died down. Then going through the slabs felt a lot steeper in reverse. After moving past the giant boulders, I went faster and reached the trailhead in a few hours.

I later went to see the arid Ross Lake. With the lower water levels this year, many tree stumps had popped out on the north end. Back at the border, I admired the international crop line and checked out the Monument 72 border obelisk.

Thanks for a memorable trip
Thanks for a memorable trip

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