Snowgrass Mountain via Frosty Pass / 經霜凍山道上雪草山

  • Reading time:5 mins read

Snowgrass Mountain is the second highest peak in the Chiwaukum Mountains. It also shares a connecting ridgeline with Big Chiwaukum to the north and Ladies Peak to the south. Frosty Pass is one of two primary ways to reach the mountain.

Snowgrass Mountain summit in the mist
Snowgrass Mountain summit in the mist

See more trip photos here.

Snowgrass Mountain at a Glance

Access: White Pine Trailhead
Round Trip: 21.8 miles
Elevation Range: 2320′-7993′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

Thoughts on the Unranking Peaks

The weather was gorgeous last Saturday and Sunday. Snowgrass Mountain wasn’t on my radar until this year. But it’s one of the few on my list doable in one long day. Though, I would’ve liked to have spent the night and climb other peaks.

Snowgrass Mountain is also an unranking peak on the T200 list. I had hoped to save it for the end. But this weekend’s weather left me with no other options. But whoever elected to add more peaks to the existing lineup wasn’t thinking straight. Grr.

See more trip photos here.

White Pine Trailhead to Wildhorse Trail

One great thing about the long way was that we were on a trail clear to Frosty Pass. Views in the forest were scarce. So we reached the junction without many photo stops. Then we continued on the Wildhorse Trail. When we finally went into the clearing, the weather still wasn’t promising.

The marmot screeching started as soon as we hiked past the path to Lake Grace. “Shouldn’t they be napping on this dreary day?” I wondered. If it weren’t for the persistent clouds, Snowgrass Mountain would have been visible by now. But we continued through to Frosty Pass.

No signs of Snowgrass Mountain
No signs of Snowgrass Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Frosty Pass Plus South-West Ridge Traverse

A man showed up on the pass while we were taking a break. He was out on a five-day backpacking trip and was staying at Lake Margaret. The lake was 400′ below the pass on the south side. He warned me about a black bear wandering in the area before moving on toward Lake Mary. The pup and I left the pass shortly after.

Heading east on the ridge crest, we traveled toward the steep west slopes of Point 7161. One report suggested climbing over the point for a direct traverse. So we did just that. After we got down to the east saddle, I peered into the northwest gully. It looked like a feasible way to bypass Frosty Pass to get back down to the meadow.

Point 7161 on the right
Point 7161 on the right

See more trip photos here.

South Ridge Traverse

Visibility remained weak. So we moved slowly and made our way toward the 7400′ south saddle. It had been breezy since we left Frosty Pass. Then the wind picked up just as we approached the crest. So we took a break east of the ridgeline hoping for the gusts to die down. But that never happened and so we continued.

Staying below the crest on the east, we gradually climbed up toward Snowgrass Mountain summit. Visibility seemed to be getting worse as the day progressed. But since we were getting closer to the top, I figured we would tag the summit and call it good. It’s unfortunate since I very much looked forward to seeing the lush terrain at this time of the year. It began to drizzle then.

In search of Snowgrass Mountain summit
In search of Snowgrass Mountain summit

See more trip photos here.

Snowgrass Mountain Summit Without Views

Soon, we were on top of the false summit. But the clouds were so thick that the real high point was still not visible. Through the mist, the eerie broken ridgeline looked impassable. I knew this wasn’t a technical climb, so we went around the east side and found a ramp. Then we went down to the notch via downsloping ledges and loose talus. By now the drizzle had turned into light rain.

I finally got to see the summit from the notch. From there, it was just another 150′ or so to the top. What depressing weather! This trip was our second this season where there were no views from the summit. McGregor Mountain was the first, but at least it didn’t rain. We didn’t stay long, just enough time to take our selfies and sign the summit register. The rain stopped just as we were leaving.

Summit register on Snowgrass Mountain
Summit register on Snowgrass Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Outro

Soon, we were back down on the saddle east of Point 7161. I took another look and then decided to head down the gully. We avoided the boulders higher up by staying close to the north slopes. As the terrain steepened, we started making our way down toward the middle of the drainage. From there, we relied on light talus and heather slopes to get us back down in the meadow. I stopped to enjoy lots of blueberries along the way.

After locating the trail in the field, we proceeded to hike the long way out back to the car. It started to rain again, but it didn’t last too long. The weather also looked to be improving. But the clouds remained in the valley until later in the evening.

Thanks for a rainy day
Thanks for a rainy day

See more trip photos here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Eric Jain

    I hope the picture labelled “In search of Snowgrass Mountain summit” was mixed up, and winter hasn’t arrived quite so early 🙂

  2. onehikeaweek

    Thanks Eric for letting me know! Glad someone caught the mistake. I’ve used many of your WTA reports for my off-season outing ideas. So thanks for those!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.