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Ascent of Red Mountain on 2007-05-04

Climber: Eric Noel

Others in Party:Dean Molen
Date:Friday, May 4, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Red Mountain
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:5880 ft / 1792 m

Ascent Trip Report

EN: "After seeing the scenery in the above report, Red Mountain moved up my to-do list for this year. With a trailhead that is accessible in May and a convenient location partway between our respective homes, Dean and I decided to hook up for a try at this peak. Originally, I was hopeful that we might even be able to drive a road that snakes up the north slope of the mountain to approximately 4000 ft and then traverses east for a ways with the trail meeting it. That starting point would have given us an easy day. That plan didn't last long as we hit snow on the road just past the lower trailhead which is located at about 2600 ft. It looked like this was going to be a snow hike. So we parked there and headed up the signed trail through patchy snow.

"For the first bit the trail was easy to follow with a mix of bare trail and patchy snow. We soon hit a junction with a former roadbed not shown on the map at around 3100 feet. This area has seen some selective logging in the past. The trail became fainter and we lost it for a moment. I believe the trail forks here and the main trail crosses over to the other side of the creek. There was snow here so we lost the trail. We saw no bridge across the creek though we didn't look very hard. There was more vegetation down there in the drainage too so it didn't look too appealing. So we elected to take the right fork (we never really saw the split) which was really more of a bootpath. This path stayed more on the ridge and while we were generally able to follow the path there was a bit of light brush and places where the trail seemed to disappear. We eventually hit the unmistakable road which crosses the trail at about 3800 feet. With the snow cover we were unable to determine if this road can and is still being used at all. Above here the terrain looked consistently snow covered. We could have gone left on the road for a few hundred yards and then tried to go up the gully where the trail is. But the snow slopes right above us looked moderate enough that it would make a decent route so we went slightly right on the road and then up the slopes. This was typical forest and the snow was hard but not really icy so it provided us quality footing for the ascent. It was consistently steep. We needed to gain about 2000 feet in one air mile. We headed up slope for a bit and soon the northeast ridgeline came in on climber's right. We stayed pretty much on the slope just on the south side of the ridgeline for maybe 1000 feet of elevation gain in the forest.

"At perhaps 4800 ft the trees started to thin out to open slopes and the snow got softer. Clouds were moving in and out quickly with light snow but nothing that had us worried at all. We were sinking in a bit here but not horribly so. If it had been flatter then snowshoes might have been in order but it was steep enough that we never pulled them out and soft enough that the crampons and ice axes stayed our packs as well. The grade seemed to increase a little bit the closer we got. Or maybe I was just getting tired. There really was no navigation needed, we just stayed left of the ridgeline and that went right towards the top. When we were maybe three or four hundred feet below the top it become obvious that what we were seeing was the north and south summits. We headed left towards the south summit as reports indicated that was the higher of the two contours. We summited but I thought we hadn't, that the north summit looked higher. Nope, the south summit was clearly higher once I looked at it from the other side.

"We didn't stay at the summit for very long, as we had taken a while to get up this mountain. We headed down and the first thousand feet were fairly easy through the soft snow. Ice axes out but the snow was soft enough that were in control. Then we hit the forest. The going became slower as the snow was harder making for worse footing. Plus we had to weave in and out of the trees which slowed us down. This became a bit tedious pretty quickly. But we plugged away and were at the upper road in due time. We found the jumping off point and Dean skillfully led the way back down the same way through the brush where we eventually hit good trail for the final bit. All in all a good trip. The trail was a bit less maintained than I would have guessed but I suspect the gully trail may be in better shape. The upper portion of the mtn is quite pretty and features expansive views of the area. There was no real tricky obstacle or scrambling to be done. Just up up and up the snow. We took snowshoes, ice axe and crampons but only really used the ice axes on the descent. With firmer snow though we would have used crampons. I know others have used snowshoes on this trip but it felt a little bit steep to me along our route for snowshoes. I'm told this can be done in three hours, it took us a few more minutes than that for our trip. Some of the other mountains on this page are not particularly scenic nor are they interesting climbs. This mountain is a good one in both of those regards." --Eric Noel, May 4, 2007
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3280 ft / 1000 m
    Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Route:Trail then East Slopes
    Trailhead:Red Mtn Trailhead  2600 ft / 792 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Ski Poles
    Weather:Snowing, Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy



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