Ascent of Purcell Mountain on 2013-07-20

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, July 20, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Purcell Mountain
    Elevation:5442 ft / 1658 m

Ascent Trip Report

Don't bushwhack up the east slopes or the north ridge. The going is pretty nasty--steep slopes of dirt, little cliff bands, slippery heather, and areas of closely spaced trees. The north ridge leading to the summit is Class 4 in places and you have to fight through trees. The rock is pretty friable, too.

The summit has excellent views of Rainier, Adams, Hood, St. Helens, the Goat Rocks, High Rock, and the entire surrounding area. Old lookout site.

The best option is to drive FR-102 as far as you can, before the triangular switchback. After that, the road is pretty overgrown and occasionally blocked by alder or rockslides as it goes along the west slopes of Purcell, but near its end it is a relatively easy 400' gain to the old trail, most of it over open country near a ravine the way I went. You pick up the trail in a scenic meadow and it leads N to the summit, but the trail might be hard to follow once in the woods. This was my descent route.

The other option is to find the lower end of the old trail off of Road 63 down lower. I did not go that way, but it reportedly has a stream crossing and over 2500' of gain. And based on the condition of the trail up high, it is likely hard to follow for at least part of its length. But I'll bet it is still better than the north ridge.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1212 ft / 368 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1212 ft / 369 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Grade/Class:Low Class 4
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1012 ft / 308 m
    Distance:0.8 mi / 1.3 km
    Route:North Ridge
    Start Trailhead:4430 ft / 1350 m
    Time:1 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1212 ft / 369 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1012 ft / 308 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Gain on way out:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:3.2 mi / 5.2 km
    Route:SW Slopes/Trail
    End Trailhead:4430 ft / 1350 m
    Time:1 Hours 30 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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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