Huckleberry Mountain by Mount Thomson via Snoqualmie Pass / 哈克貝利山

  • Reading time:5 mins read

Huckleberry Mountain by Mount Thomson perches above Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Its well-known neighbor Chikamin Peak lies under a mile east. Even the quickest way from Snoqualmie Pass can be a full-day effort on this challenging high point.

One step closer to Huckleberry Mountain
One step closer to Huckleberry Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Huckleberry Mountain at a Glance

Access: Pacific Crest Trailhead
Round Trip: 20 miles
Elevation Range: 3000′-5851′
Gear: helmet, rope
Route Info: awilsondc on SummitPost.org
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

The Preface

Seven peaks in Washington State share the name Huckleberry Mountain. But this one sees the most traffic because of PCT. Next comes the one in the state’s remote northeast, notable for its near 4k prominence.

The mountain has been on the laundry list since I started hiking in 2008. But I haven’t been in a rush to climb it because other places have kept me busy. Then I began running out of new spots in the area to visit.

Morning walk with Red Mountain
Morning walk with Red Mountain

See more trip photos here.

PCT to Kendall Katwalk

It’s always a good idea to hike this span of the PCT early in the day. Starting late in decent weather means a crowded trail. But one can cut a good chunk of the busy route by taking the Commonwealth Trail.

My plan to start sooner than 6:30 AM didn’t happen. But despite seeing half a dozen cars in the lot, it was a clear trail to Kendall Katwalk. Then I took a short break by the narrow passage and continued.

Red Mountain and Lundin Peak before Kendall Katwalk
Red Mountain and Lundin Peak before Kendall Katwalk

See more trip photos here.

Ridge Lake to Joe Lake

The bulk of the elevation gain took place before Kendall Katwalk. Beyond that point, the altitude ranged from 5200′ to 5600′ as the excellent views continued to expand. Before long, I walked past Ridge Lake.

Most views were now on the east, including Alta Mountain, Alaska Lake, and Rampart Ridge. Later the trail rounded Alaska Mountain‘s east ridge, dropping 400’ through the west end of Joe Lake.

Edds Lake below Huckleberry Mountain
Edds Lake below Huckleberry Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Huckleberry Mountain South Gully

All reports pointed to the gentle northeast ridge. But after checking the map, I knew I could go up via the south gully to the east shoulder. It’s rocky, but I stayed to the west end and used ledges from the minor ridge for relief.

From 6000′, I entered the area on a grassy path. As the trail dwindled, I started looking for the route through slabs and boulders. Then a few class 4 moves put me above the east cleft across from the summit.

 Huckleberry Mountain south gully
Huckleberry Mountain south gully

See more trip photos here.

The Final Stretch

I dropped into the deep notch using narrow ledges on the side of the short cliffs. There I got the view of Joe Lake on the south and Big Snow Mountain to the north. Then I looked up and checked out the class 5 crack.

According to Aaron, it’s possible to bypass the crack from the south. It would put me on exposed 3-4 class terrain instead. But the overhead gap looked readily available, so I went up using some stem and friction moves.

Summit block
Summit block

See more trip photos here.

Huckleberry Mountain Summit Views

At one point, my SD card decided to reformat itself. So I lost the footage of me grunting my way up, damn. But what a roomy summit it was! Glad that I came out today because heavy rain was in the forecast the next day.

I haven’t been this close to Mount Thomson. But it’s surreal to see the east route I took in full view–it looked steep! Then I turned around to see another goal I’ve put off for years–Chikamin Peak. Such an elegant ridgeline.

Western panoramic view
Western panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

Leaving the Summit

I brought a 60m rope for the rappel into the notch, which was more than enough. From there, I made my way back up the short cliffs to the east ridge. Then I retraced my steps through the rocky ridgeline down to the grassy area.

I had thought about going down the northeast ridge. But I figured I’d go back the way I came, even though it didn’t save much time. At one point, I slid down the scree but caught myself as my tailbone hit a granite ledge. Ouch!

Back to the PCT
Back to the PCT

See more trip photos here.

Exiting on PCT

I stood up and instantly felt a sharp pain in my tailbone and knew I had bruised it. So I had to move very slowly, trying not to trigger any discomfort. Later some backpackers showed up as I took baby steps across the top of Alaska Lake.

Back at the Katwalk, I met a father-and-son duo camping at Ridge Lake. I tried getting myself back to the car before nightfall and the drizzles but couldn’t. In the end, what should’ve been a quick exit took four extra hours. But I made it!

Finding my way home
Finding my way home

See more trip photos here.

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