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Ascent of Mount Josephine on 2020-02-09

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, February 9, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Josephine
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:3957 ft / 1206 m

Ascent Trip Report

Useful Information:

The standard access to Mount Josephine starts in the town of Hamilton on Highway 20. Go north on narrow Ensley Road, then right on Hamilton Cemetery Road, and then left on Medford Road. This leads uphill into the forest. Turn left on a dirt road near a horse facility, and follow the GPS track up through a maze of logging roads.

About 8 miles from Highway 20 there is a gate that is apparently mostly open, and 0.6 miles later a fallen log and some intentional berms block the road for all vehicles. Most passenger cars can make it here. From this parking spot, it’s a road hike of 3 miles with a gain of 1300 feet to the summit. The very last stretch is a steeply switchbacking trail up the north face of the peak.

Apparently there are other roads that connect to the summit road from the north or “back side” of the peak, avoiding the blocking berms—one report mentions tire tracks up high. These likely entail a much longer access drive, but also much less exercise.

My Story:

I made this a midwinter ski trip, so I had to park at 2280 feet when snow got too deep for my car. I made several mistakes on this trip—the first was taking a wrong turn at the start, following the tire tracks in the snow, when I should have taken the flat snowy road. Embarrassingly, I had just read a trip report online by someone who made the same mistake. This detour cost me 45 minutes and 470 vertical feet extra, and I removed this part from my GPS track so no one else make the same mistake!

The other big screw-up was taking my cross-country skis instead of my randonnee gear. I had thought that my lighter setup would be good for low-angle logging roads, but the icy snow made even the most gentle angle difficult for my fishscale bases. I needed skins or some kind of wax. And the downhill was harrowing without being able to turn on the breakable crust—I had to resort to postholing while carrying my skis a couple times, a very miserable and humbling experience.

I also learned that the earthen berms thrown up to impede vehicle access on these roads are pretty effective obstacles to ski travel. I somehow muddled through but it was not easy or fun. Fortunately, there were only a few—at the end of summer vehicle access, and just before the final summit climb.

At least the upper 500 vertical feet of the peak featured deep heavy snow and I could handle that OK with my gear. The last part of the route is a narrow and steep trail that switchbacks up to the semi-open summit, and I was able to get up there for a true “skis on summit” ascent. I had a mostly OK weather day and I had some views of the surrounding area from the summit and upper slopes. I did not see a soul on my trip, or any other evidence of recent travel.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2147 ft / 654 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2147 ft / 654 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.4 mi / 18.4 km
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Skis, Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2147 ft / 654 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1677 ft / 512 m; Extra: 470 ft / 143m
    Loss on way in:470 ft / 143 m
    Distance:6.5 mi / 10.5 km
    Route:Trunk Road
    Start Trailhead:Road Junction  2280 ft / 694 m
    Time:3 Hours 50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1677 ft / 511 m
    Distance:4.9 mi / 7.9 km
    Route:Trunk Road
    End Trailhead:Road Junction  2280 ft / 694 m
    Time:2 Hours 15 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file




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