Ascent of Silvertip Mountain on 2013-07-25

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Pete Ellis
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, July 25, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Silvertip Mountain
    Location:Canada-British Columbia
    Elevation:8517 ft / 2595 m

Ascent Trip Report

The token scary pointy BC Ultra of the trip! Climbed the day after Mount Baker. Drove in the evening before, slept at trailhead. To reach it, exit freeway at the first Hope exit, take Flood Hope Rd, at N49.36269 W121.47208 turn onto Silver Skagit Rd (initially paved then very good dirt road. After 22.5 miles, at N49.13267 W121.24257 turn L onto a short gravel road, again good surface but BEWARE there is a quite deep depression / drainage channel to cross at the start, our 2wd had to be driven in at an oblique angle to avoid grounding. Parking at large turning area at end, in half mile, at N49.13633 W121.23892, 608m. See Summitpost page for further details plus photos.

Next morning we hike at 5 am, first light. Initially up fan shaped clearing direct from trailhead. Fair bit of dead timber and a few thistles but not bad to ascend. Route marked sporadically by plastic tape and a few tin cans. Route angles up towards left, keeping to clearing. Summitpost mentions "steep dirt step" as recommended route to top of cliff band. To find this you would likely need to pass a small cliff on L then angle back L, climbing through steep forest then crossing another smaller clearing (N49.13904 W121.23944). Climb starts at N49.13935 W121.24023, 881m (red tape marker), climbs up a steep rocky gully then a few steep dirt steps. Approx 10m total ascent. Top at N49.13952 W121.24025, 900m, red tape marker.

The otherwise excellent SP description seemed to be of no help in finding this key climb. Instead we climbed up west slope and followed a steep but easy reentrant from about N49.13956 W121.23934. At N49.14092 W121.23953 this ended with a rocky drop ahead and a cairn on a little crag to the R. Up to L was a little crag which we climbed, probably only YDS 3 although a bit mossy and some loose rock. Total climb 10m.

Carefully waypointing top of climb (N49.14107 W121.23968, 996m) we hike up slope, nice open woodland with minimal understorey. Bad mosquitos. Soon (from N49.14136 W121.24012) we start seeing occasional orange tape markers which we follow, heading straight uphill. Come to foot of a bluff (N49.14952 W121.23710?) which we pass on R side (small trail) then climb up to nice ridge crest which we follow to where trees end at meadow N49.15285 W121.23790, 1728m. Nice flowers and views, bad mosquitos.

Followed meadow ridge a short way then angled down to avoid bluff, awkward sidehilling on slippery vegetation. Followed trail from N49.15633 W121.23708 then more sidehilling to reach stream (N49.16049 W121.23609, 1913m), lovely cool water, good to dunk hat and shirt. Climbed up R of rocky bluff, some scree and rock ribs. At ridge turned R and crossed nice little rocky top. Hoped for breeze here but nothing, mosquitos bad as ever. Crossed col and climbed almost to summit of false top then took YDS 3 route to R (S) of summit, fairly obvious line, generally descending, quite exposed in places, rock occasionally a bit loose but generally sound.

Climb to true summit looks very steep and challenging but this is just a foreshortening effect. We initially keep below (R of) rocky crest, climb an easy rock step (YDS 2+) just avoiding a patch of snow. Then climb on scree making our way up L to crest. Then follow base of summit cliffs rightward (some easy YDS 3 scrambling which could be avoided on scree below), working our way towards notch xxxx R (S) of summit. Just before notch (N49.16310 W121.21628) we scramble up L (YDS 3) and are soon at the summit (N49.16327 W121.21619, 2592m, cairn). 5 hours 30 mins ascent.

Great view. We spend 30 mins then head down at 11 am. One of the reports we've read describes a descent to the meadow completely missing out the false summit i.e. straight down the scree couloir. We can't resist trying it, and it works pretty well, although not as easy as it looks. Initially down scree, then big snow patch (OK in trail shoes late a.m.) then cross small streams (N49.16256 W121.22288, water bottles refilled) moving R into main couloir. Scree is rather thin in places needing care, also there are a few small rock steps (YDS 3) to descend. We generally work R to effectually skirt round the foot of a bluff then descend through a patch of trees to cross the main stream (N49.15925 W121.23466, time to dunk the shirt and hat again). Then an ascending traverse (unpleasant sidehilling) to eventually reach the crest of the meadow ridge.

Back on our upward route we retrace our steps down, initially following the ridge crest, then following occasional orange tape and our GPS track. Instead of reversing our YDS 3 climb through the cliff band, we decide to try finding the "dirt rock step". We follow orange tape markers downhill. The top of the climb is marked by orange tape around a tree (N49.13952 W121.24025, 900m). The descent is directly below this, initially dirt steps with little trees for hand holds. Then a steep rock step (YDS 3?), and we're down. Then steep forest to descend, a short way to a small clearing (N49.13904 W121.23944), then descend again to the main fan shaped clearing which we ascended at the start of the route, and now descend to the trailhead, arriving at 3.10 pm, 4h10 descent, 10h10 round trip.

We spend half an hour relaxing, visit Silver Lake to cool off, then head back south. Next main objective Mount Rainier in two days time.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6522 ft / 1987 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.4 mi / 11.9 km
    Route:Southwest ridge
    Trailhead:1995 ft / 608 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 3
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
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.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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