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

  • Reading time:10 mins read

Hozomeen Mountain South Peak is the evil twin of the double-summitted Hozomeen Mountain. It’s also one of the top ten challenging peaks in Washington state. Unable to find a partner, I tackled the peak alone. But the pup had to sit out this one after last week.

Hozomeen Mountain South Peak emerges
Hozomeen Mountain South Peak emerges

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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
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

Hozomeen Lake Trail

Hozomeen Lake Trailhead is right outside a water treatment facility by Hozomeen Campground. I’d assume the size and the proximity of Hozomeen Lake would attract lots of people. So I expected to see swarms of hikers.

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

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Bypassing Hozomeen Lake

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

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

A quiet stroll
A quiet stroll

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Hozomeen Mountain South Peak West Rib

After leaving the trail, I crossed Hozomeen Creek in a quarter of a mile. But not before I tried getting myself out of a sea of Devil’s club. Then I stayed in the north of the creek bed.

The drainage came off the southwest peak’s west basin. There were many own trees in lower down. But the open forest had made going through this section more manageable.

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Through Brushy Terrain

The terrain grew brushier past the debris. So at 3000′ north of Hozomeen Lake, I stepped out into the creek bed to avoid the shrubs. As the terrain steepened, I crossed the drainage to the north at 3200′.

There were more logs past 3800′. But I was able to avoid them by staying close to the edge above the ravine. But eventually, cliffs forced me back into the sea of down trees.

Can't escape these
Can’t escape these

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Hozomeen Mountain South Peak West Basin

For the next 1000′, I tried creative ways to skirt around the logs. Then as I neared 5000′, I began to make my way east into the basin. Naturally, the bottom of the gully, top of the ravine, held a massive number of boulders.

It’s been a few dry months so far. So I didn’t expect to find any more water higher up the mountain. Then I filled up my bottle and the 2.5-liter pouch to use for the climb and at camp.

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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 to go through before starting the beautiful slab wall at 5800′.

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

Hozomeen Mountain North Peak making a cameo
Hozomeen Mountain North Peak making a cameo

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6800′ Saddle Camp

It seemed to have taken forever to reach the 6800′ saddle. But I felt much more pumped about climbing this peak after seeing the south view. The imposing 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. Then I scoped out the terrain after dropping off my overnight gear.

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In Search of 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 of course, I ended up not using it. I later dropped 200′ on the south side. Then I traversed east to the visible access notch.

Soon, I rounded the ridge at the notch. Then the impressive south peak suddenly came into view. But before I could go near it, I needed to traverse a broad gully first.

At last
At last

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South Route

The gully had rocks of terrible quality. So I carefully traversed to the other side. Soon, I got onto another rib at 7100′. Here I stayed on the crest and worked my way toward the 7600′ summit ridge.

Shortly, a minor gully with snow stopped me in my tracks. It had forced me onto the steep south face. Glad that there were decent ledges and holds to go through this part without a hitch.

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Hozomeen Mountain South Peak Summit Ridge

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

I also carefully peeked into the north basin, and it was a straight-up plunge! Not to mention that the south peak’s north side was also vertical! Talk about vertigo!

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

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West Ridge Traverse

Despite having gone through sections of loose rocks, the ridge had more of it. So I paid particular attention to the scree over ledges and steps. 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. But somehow, I mistook this for the crux of the climb.

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Through Sketchy Terrain

After I went above the overhang, the 5.6 rock rating felt a little too smooth. But I didn’t think much of it and continued on the wobbly ridge. The crest seemed to become narrower and narrower the higher I went.

Just below the summit was an area with increased exposure. I tried hard not to focus on my peripheral vision. But I could still see the steep drop-offs on both sides. Glad there were lots of solid holds.

Through the notch
Through the notch

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Hozomeen Mountain South Peak Crux

At the bottom of the summit was a wide ledge. So I walked up and down, but I couldn’t find the reported gully finish up to the top. Then I took a moment to think through my steps.

Soon, I realized that this was the reported 5.6 crux. Not the overhang that I climbed up earlier. Whew! Glad I caught the mistake before I attempted to find another way to bypass the headwall before me.

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The Final Stretch

I carefully tested every hold and slowly made my way up the rock face. But glad nothing peeled off as I went through this part. It was a relief to see the belay station on the flat area above it. So I was still on the right track!

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

Hozomeen Mountain South Peak final stretch
Hozomeen Mountain South Peak final stretch

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Hozomeen Mountain South Peak Summit

As with many other technical climbs, I couldn’t believe I made it up there. Jack Mountain, front and center with Nohokomeen Glacier, was gorgeous as usual. The Picket Range and the Chilliwack group continued to steal the show across the western skyline. But the evening sun was beginning to cast shadows over in that direction. Castle Peak sat still to the east. What an incredible day to be out in the middle of nowhere!

I was excited to be able to make it up here today, albeit later in the day. But at least I could still make it back to my campsite before dark. Views up here were similar to those of the north peak. But without other nearby high points, views to the south felt more open. 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.

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

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Quick Descent Back to Camp

After getting back to the belay station, I proceeded to rappel off the crux. Then from there, I downclimbed my way back to the overhang and rappelled off on a fixed bolt. The ridge traverse was even more nerve-racking going down. Especially the section with high exposure on both sides. But once I went past it, downclimbing the rest of the route back to the access notch was a breeze.

While I was still above the crux, I heard a loud thump below me. So I peeked over the platform and saw a mountain goat going down the west ridge. It kept looking back at me as I followed behind. Since they’re the real mountain climbers, it wasn’t long before they quickly went out of sight. From the notch, I climbed back up 200′ and reached the saddle camp shortly after.

Safe travels
Safe travels

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Underneath the Stars and the Moon

The only flat area on the saddle where I bivyed was big enough for a solo tent. After enjoying a savory dinner, I listened to a couple of podcasts and then turned in under a starry sky. It became windier as the night went on. But luckily, I was behind a small bush and my pack to be out of most of it. The moon rose half an hour before midnight.

Since the moon was still behind the south peak, there was less light pollution. So I got up at midnight and took some star trail shots. I finally went to sleep at 1:30 and surprisingly had a restful night.

Hozomeen's dreams
Hozomeen’s dreams

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Lazy Morning Outro

Since I didn’t need to get up early to climb today, I stayed in bed for a while. The wind never stopped, and it was still blowing in the morning. For now, I just needed to get my arse up and make my way out. Getting down the slabs didn’t go as fast as I had hoped. The downsloping rocks felt a lot steeper going in reverse. But once I got back to the big boulders, I was able to move faster.

Eventually, I crossed Hozomeen Creek and went back on the trail in a quarter of a mile. After getting back to the car, I decided to check out Ross Lake. The northern end of the lake was arid, with tree stumps popping up everywhere. Water levels were lower than usual this summer. Back at the border, I marveled at the international crop line while checking out the Monument 72 border obelisk.

Thanks for a memorable trip
Thanks for a memorable trip

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