Hock Mountain + Twisp Mountain + Lincoln Butte via Twisp River / 霍克山

  • Reading time:16 mins read

Hock Mountain, Twisp Mountain, and Lincoln Butte by Switchblade Peak loom above Twisp River and McAlester Creek. At the same time, these neighboring peaks border Lake-Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness and North Cascades National Park.

Hock Mountain east high point
Hock Mountain east high point

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Hock Mountain + Twisp Mountain + Lincoln Butte at a Glance

Access: NF-4440 by Gilbert Trailhead
Round Trip: 16 miles
Elevation Range: 3560′-7750′
Gear: helmet, crampons, snowshoes, ice ax
Route Info: Brian Hill
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

The Preface

Happy year 13 and week 1 of “one hike a week” to me! I’ve kept my hikes pretty mild during the first 14 weeks of this year, so my left foot could heal. In turn, my cardio workout has taken a backseat.

The season’s first backpacking trip is the slowest. But this year was even more so as my lungs needed to catch up from the low-key outings. Nevertheless, it was great to be back deep in the Cascades since last October.

Roads End Campground
Roads End Campground

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Twisp Pass Trail

Twisp Pass Trail is a little over eight miles long. The west ends in the national park and is easily accessible via North Cascades Highway. Then Gilbert Trailhead one mile before the wilderness marks the east end.

Climbing Hock Mountain while keeping the pups out of the national park, we started from the east. It’s a 25-mile drive from the turnoff in Twisp to the end. With all three goals plus our camp spot in mind, it’s the shorter route.

Yellow avalanche lilies
Yellow avalanche lilies

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Hock Mountain East Route

We walked half a mile on Road 4440 to Roads End Campground from the barricade by Gilbert Trailhead. A few down trees at .25 mile in were impassable in cars. From the camp, we scrambled a short way to Twisp Pass Trail.

The decent trail had a dozen or so knee-to-waist high small down trees. Many glacier lilies lined the path, perhaps the most I had ever seen on a trip. Soon, we started seeing snow at two miles just past 4400′.

South Fork Twisp River Valley
South Fork Twisp River Valley

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5400′ Camp Below Twisp Pass

We crossed South Fork Twisp River on the single-rail bridge. Before the switchback, a Pacific marten on a tree had caught my eye. I didn’t know what it was. First time seeing one, so we stopped to check out the shy animal.

The moderate incline went on for another mile as we battled groups of down logs en route. Then, the striking Lincoln Butte came into view in the basin, where I put on snowshoes. Soon, we found a spot at 5400′ and stashed the overnight gear.

Twisp Mountain above the basin
Twisp Mountain above the basin

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Hock Mountain Climb

I had planned to camp on Twisp Pass for the views. But it was a better idea to camp at Twisp Mountain’s eastern foothills. So we could drop straight to camp from the east ridge. Thanks to Brian‘s track to know it was doable.

Soon, we went around Twisp Mountain’s east ridge while staying between 5400′ and 5600′. We mix-climbed because of the dry rocks. Then from the south basin, we made a rising traverse via slush toward Twisp Lake.

One step closer to Hock Mountain
One step closer to Hock Mountain

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The Final Stretch on Hock Mountain

The snow worsened, so it took a while from the lake to Hock Mountain’s south saddle. Around this time, clouds rolled in, and we soon found ourselves in a whiteout. But the mists dissipated a bit when we reached the pass.

The steep south slope plus knee-high slush made a terrible combo. But after 400′ of an excruciating climb, we reached the southwest ridge and found some relief. Soon, clouds lifted as we made the rest of the way through shallow snow to the top.

Hock Mountain southwest ridge
Hock Mountain southwest ridge

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Hock Mountain Summit Views

I didn’t think we’d see anything on this trip since the forecast looked to have worsened. But the clouds had lifted just high enough to see nearby valleys. Heavily corniced ridge had us steer clear of the sheer dropoff on the east.

The most stunning view was toward Rainy Pass of the Granite Creek corridor. Frisco Mountain sat among the peak cluster south of there. Then to the east were Crescent Mountain and Mother Load Peak we visited last year.

Northwestern panoramic view from Hock Mountain
Northwestern panoramic view from Hock Mountain

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Sunset Climb on Twisp Mountain

I kept our summit visit short in the hope of having enough daylight to visit Twisp Mountain. But the unanticipated slush had us moving at snail speed. Soon, we retraced our steps to below Hock Mountain’s east ridge.

At 6000′, we rounded the ridge into Twisp Mountain’s south basin. The improved snow quality had us moving at a faster pace. Then from the south pass, we went straight up the steep south face to reach another broad summit.

The final stretch on Twisp Mountain
The final stretch on Twisp Mountain

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Exiting Twisp Mountain

It was late in the day, and I wasn’t in the mood to climb in the dark. So we only stayed long enough to snap a photo of Hock Mountain and the dogs’ summit shot. Then we made our way down the east ridge and stayed south of the crest.

At two-thirds way down the ridgetop at 6500′, we reached the top of the broad gully I noticed earlier. So we made a beeline down to our camp at 1100′ below. Then I quickly pitched the tent, and we ate before turning in after a long day.

Hock Mountain from Twisp Mountain
Hock Mountain from Twisp Mountain

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A Rainy Morning

The forecast had heavy overnight rain, but it never came until the morning. So it was a great excuse not to wake up at the crack of dawn to climb. We were in no hurry, and it felt good not having to rush due to time constraints.

It continued to rain past 10, as we finally started to prepare. Even though the weather sucked, I still wanted to go up Lincoln Butte to save us another trip. Then when we started walking at 20 minutes to noon, it was snowing.

Rise and shine
Rise and shine

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En Route to Linclon Butte

Soon, we went north through the trees into the open and straight to Lincoln Butte’s west saddle. I couldn’t believe I had talked myself into climbing in this condition. The snowfall plus the mists weren’t my ideas for an enjoyable outing.

From the pass, the west ridge looked incredibly steep. But we stayed below the crest and mix-climbed en route. I kept the dogs close by to keep them from wanting to go near the cornices. The .25-mile from the saddle to the top took a while in a whiteout.

No signs of Lincoln Butte
No signs of Lincoln Butte

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Lincoln Butte Sumit

It’s been windy since the saddle but much worse on top that the dogs’ ears were flapping. The goal of seeing Gilbert Mountain from here didn’t happen. Like on Twisp Mountain, we stayed a few minutes before leaving.

Soon, we carefully retraced our steps below the ridge. There was a section of steep snow I didn’t want to go back through. So before the snow ramp, we headed straight for the basin shy of the saddle.

Summit cornices
Summit cornices

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Outro

June is notorious for erratic weather in the Pacific Northwest, but I didn’t anticipate the all-day snow. The four-hour roundtrip climb would’ve taken half of the time in dry months. Oh well, we made it out in one piece, at least!

After returning to camp, I dreaded picking up all the wet gear to start packing. The snow persisted as we left the basin to make the four miles back to the car. Then it turned into rain on the lower trail for the rest of the walk.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

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