Snowgrass Mountain by Big Chiwaukum via Frosty Pass / 雪草山

  • Reading time:5 mins read

Snowgrass Mountain is the #2 highest peak in the Chiwaukum Mountains. It shares a ridgeline with Big Chiwaukum to the north and Ladies Peak on the south. Moreover, one of the common ways to reach the mountain is through Frosty Pass.

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

The Preface on Snowgrass Mountain

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.

Snowgrass Mountain South Ridge

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.

The Final Stretch

Soon, we were on the false summit. But the clouds were so dense that the actual high point was still not visible. Through the mist, the eerie broken ridgeline looked impassable.

I knew this could not be a technical climb, so we poked around the east and found a ramp there. Then we went down to the notch via downward ledges and loose talus. By now, the drizzle had turned into light rain.

See more trip photos here.

Snowgrass Mountain Summit Without Views

At last, from the notch, I had the first real sighting of the summit. From there, it was just another 150′ gain or so up to the top. But what dire weather it was! It was our second trip this season without summit views as well.

It very much reminded me of McGregor Mountain, but at least it didn’t rain. Though, we stayed just long enough to grab our selfies and sign the summit register. As luck would have it, the rain stopped just as we were leaving.

Summit register on Snowgrass Mountain
Summit register on Snowgrass Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Back to the Meadow

Soon, we were back on the saddle east of Point 7161. Then I decided to go down through the gully. Higher up, we bypassed boulders by staying close to the grassy slopes. But as the terrain steepened, we moved toward the middle of the route.

En route, we relied on light talus and heather slopes to get us back down in the meadow. But not before we made some stops to enjoy lots of delicious blueberries.

Thanks for a rainy day
Thanks for a rainy day

See more trip photos here.

Outro

I later located the trail in the field. Then we proceeded to hike the long way back to the car. Soon, it started to drizzle, but glad that it didn’t last long. The weather looked to be improving, but the clouds stayed in the valley well into the evening.

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.