Mount Rudderham by Crosby Mountain via Lake Elizabeth / 羅德漢山

  • Reading time:16 mins read

Mount Rudderham by Crosby Mountain is the tallest point on the ridgeline above Lake Elizabeth. It ranks #2 in the Index-Tolt area before Mount Phelps. Meanwhile, the east-west trending ridge starts from Tolt Reservoir to two miles west of Skykomish.

 Mount Rudderham's farewell
Mount Rudderham’s farewell

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Mount Rudderham at a Glance

Access: Lake Elizabeth
Round Trip: 6.2 miles
Elevation Range: 2840′-5576′
Gear: helmet
Route Info: Marcus Peinado, Greg Slayden
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

Mount Rudderham (Red Mountain Benchmark)

There are nine Red Mountain massifs in Washington State. Two, including Mount Rudderham, sit inside King County. But the other is the famous one in the popular Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Views of the long ridgeline from Palmer Mountain, Crosby Mountain, and Mount Stickney are pretty decent. The peak sits just one mile above the road. So I extended the trip by adding Salmon Red and Red Mountain West.

Mount Rudderham above Lake Elizabeth
Mount Rudderham above Lake Elizabeth

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Money Creek Road

It was the farthest west I’ve driven on the road. I went as far as mile 2.5 for the climbs to Bing Peak and Crosby Mountain the other two times. It was smooth sailing until one mile before Lake Elizabeth.

The first of the three dips in the roadway was the worst in a compact car. I moved slowly over the rocks with a culvert underneath. But the one protruding stone still caught the underside.

This way to Mount Rudderham
This way to Mount Rudderham

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Lake Elizabeth Trail

Afterward, I reached the lake at mile 7 from the turnoff, half a mile before the road’s end. Then I parked at the pullout near the unsigned trailhead. It took a couple of times walking by the hidden entrance to find it.

The small lake at the foothills of Mount Rudderham had a decent path encircling it. And that’s the only trail here. Since the water is just off the beaten path, I’d imagine it’s a hot spot on a nice day.

Morning view
Morning view

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Mount Rudderham South Route

It rained earlier on my way here. So I wore my shell and put a rain cover on the pack to keep dry from the wet vegetation. Then at a quarter of a mile northeast of the lake, I left the path by the vine maple.

I bypassed the dense brush a couple of spots lower down. Then the semi-open forest allowed me to find a path with the least resistance. Soon, I stumbled into a boulder field gully at 3500′ and followed the rocks.

Mount Rudderham summit poking out
Mount Rudderham summit poking out

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Boulders All the Way

I was ecstatic to be on the rocks instead of the brush on the adjacent ridge. Then I worked my way up the gully and kept my fingers crossed for a brushless climb. Afterward, the boulders veered northeast at 4800′.

Shortly, the rocks ended at 5000′ by a headwall. I clearly remembered both Marcus and Greg had mentioned a rock step on the west ridge. So I decided to go around the cliffs from the south for a smoother climb.

Glad for these
Glad for these

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Final Stretch on Mount Rudderham

Soon, a grass ramp by the headwall took me farther south. Then I climbed up 200′ through the open forest. Before long, I was out by the upper rock field at 5200′ and soon reached the south ridge 150′ below the top.

The contour lines showed a moderate east face. But there’s a steep dropoff above the mild terrain below. So I stayed on the crest to avoid the krummholz on the west and reached the bouldered summit shortly.

South ridge finish
South ridge finish

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Mount Rudderham Summit with Smoky Views

The sun was out for a bit earlier. But even with persistent smoke, peaks like Crosby Mountain, Mount Index, and Lennox Mountain were still visible. It looked like Mount Phelps was in the way of McClain Peak.

I didn’t expect to be up here this early. So that meant I still had time to go over to Salmon Red and even Red Mountain West. But without route info for either peak, it was going to be exploratory.

West-to-north panoramic view
West-to-north panoramic view

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Salmon Red Climb

I avoided the rock step on the west ridge by going south on the steep slope for a bit. Then I moved west while hugging the rocky ridgeline. Later, I went around the 5100′ west shoulder to be back on the crest.

Soon, I reached the bottom of Salmon Red’s steep east ridge. I wasn’t sure if I’d run into cliffs there, but I went up and checked it out anyway. In the end, it was a straightforward route without any hiccups.

Seeing Salmon Red
Seeing Salmon Red

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Salmon Red Summit Views

Salmon Red was halfway between my other two goals for the day. The summit looked pointy when I saw it from Mount Rudderham earlier. But to my surprise, it was roomier with enough room for an army.

The views didn’t improve one bit as the smoke had permeated the otherwise sunny sky. But here, I could see Crater Lake clearly at the southern foothills. Before long, I made my way down the west ridge.

Crater Lake at the northern foothills
Crater Lake at the northern foothills

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En Route to Red Mountain West

Coming off Salmon Red’s west cliffs wrapped in spiky krummholz was a bit tricky. But I managed to bypass most of it from the north on a steep, slick ramp. Soon, I was back on moderate terrain.

The open traverse to the bottom of Red Mountain West was quite enjoyable. At one point, I even stumbled upon a game trail in the grass. Then it took me through the north of the brushy crest for a bit.

Red Mountain West from the saddle
Red Mountain West from the saddle

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Red Mountain West Summit Views

Terrain steepened at 4800′, but I stayed on the crest for the rest of the climb. The summit had an open view to the north, with a basin below the short dropoff. But trees had taken up the southern hali.

Despite the early afternoon sun, it stayed hazy all around. Otherwise, views to Mount Index, Mount Phelps, and Wild Sky Wilderness peaks would’ve been grand. Alas, maybe some other lifetime I will return to see it!

Mount Index to Mount Rudderham panoramic view
Mount Index to Mount Rudderham panoramic view

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Leaving Red Mountain West

Rather than returning via the ridge, I decided to loop through Crater Lake. So I could check the hidden alpine lake as well. But I didn’t know it’s also the source of South Fork Tolt River?! Oh, the more you know.

From the top, I dropped 200′ onto the south ridge. Then I went east through the meadow and re-entered the forest shortly. Afterward, I stumbled upon some flagging, which led me south by a series of waterfalls.

Point 5331
Point 5331

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En Route to Crater Lake

I later lost the ribbons amid the brush. So I downclimbed via the streambed for a short while. But soon, the dropoffs forced me back into the thickets, where I spotted flagging over a more defined trail.

The path ended down by the washout. Then I scrambled out to the north shore with several fire pits. From Salmon Red, the west shoreline looked feasible. Indeed, a faint trail there took me through the rocks to the south end.

Taking the waterway to Crater Lake
Taking the waterway to Crater Lake

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Outro

I saw the tip of Mount Rudderham as I walked around the lake. Then I took a break to savor the last view of Salmon Red by the outlet. Soon, I crossed the stream and followed the trail back into the trees.

The trail dropped 300′ on the south and then angled east for a while to meet the roadway. From there, it’s half a mile back to Lake Elizabeth. But I wondered why the prospectors never named the prominent pass.

Leaving Crater Lake
Leaving Crater Lake

See more trip photos here.

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