Ascent of Silvertip Mountain on 2014-09-13

Climber: Greg Slayden

Others in Party:Adam Walker -- Trip Report or GPS Track
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, September 13, 2014
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

We climbed Silvertip using the south route as described by “Redwic” at Summitpost and Rob Woodall on this site here . Also, John Stolk had climbed the peak six weeks before us and his red tape flagging was very useful.

The south route is very long and very steep—from the trailhead to the west ridge, you gain 1700 m over 3.5 km, a grade of about 50%. The terrain is never really technical, but there is plenty of bushwhacking, routefinding, scrambling, loose rock, and sidehilling. Much of the going is mildly annoying and tedious. Doing it in a day requires some fitness and an early start.

We slept at the trailhead and started hiking at 6:20 AM, just as it was getting light enough to see. We ascended the clear-cut fan and near the top easily found the start of a reliable set of orange flagging. In areas a footpath was starting to form, but in many places you are bushwhacking through largely open woods. The peak is not climbed very often so there may not be enough traffic for a good climber’s trail to form.

The “dirty rock step” at 900 m had a rope to help with a tricky move, but in dry conditions it shouldn’t pose too many problems. Above the step was more steep uphill in nice forest until the rock buttress at about 1620 m. Here we lost the flagging and bypassed to the right (east), but we still had a class 3 scramble back up to the ridgecrest. It seems best to stay on the crest and scramble up straight ahead—this is what we did coming down. A recent large landslide had taken a chunk out of the left (west) side of the ridge at one point here.

After this, the ridge was nice for a while with an easy-to-follow footway, soon breaking out of the forest into pleasant meadows. When the crest was blocked by a cliff we followed flagging (which ended here) right to a long section of sidehilling across grassy meadows. This might have been the most annoying section of the climb—even when dry the grass is slippery, and the “goat path” is intermittent at best.

The sidehilling ended in the open basins south of the main west ridge of Silvertip. We crossed a stream (the only water we saw all day) and took a route the led up the right side of a minor buttress. This was steep loose scree and not too fun, but up top we were on the grassy flat expanse of the west ridge with sweeping panoramic views. I had been here three years earlier on a failed attempt from the north. This is the most pleasant section of the climb but, of course, goes quickly.

We climbed up the intimidating-looking false summit, carefully scrambled down about 100 feet of loose class 3 to the far col, and then started up the main peak. Both the false summit and main peak are foreshortened from the west ridge and are not as hard as they look. We stayed out on the south face of the main peak and made our way up standard-issue ball-bearing scree, loose talus, and occasional solid boulders—class 3 at worst. We aimed for a notch in the skyline via a gully and then scrambled leftwards for a minute to the summit.

It was a clear day and views were expansive. We rested for 25 minutes—the summit register has about 3 parties per year signed in, a surprisingly low number.

We decided to deviate from our upward route by staying on the west ridge beyond where we gained it, and descend into the lower basins on the west side of the minor buttress. This avoided the steep loose rock or our ascent route and gave us a more gentle and pleasant scree slope to descend. This is recommended for the ascent, too—it’s perhaps a bit longer but offers much better terrain.

We rested at the stream crossing and I filled up my water bottles. The grassy sidehilling was even more tedious in our tired state, and my GPS was acting up and had me confused for a little bit. Once on the ridge we regained the helpful flagging and hiked down steeply. We stayed near the crest as we descended the buttress area at 1620 m—this avoided the unnecessary bypass we di d on the way up. The rope at the dirty rock step was particularly helpful when descending, especially for the last move at the end of the rope. The flagging was definitely a godsend, and the GPS helped us when we lost that every now and then. We were back at the car by 5:20 PM.

We were on the mountain for 11 hours—6 hours up, 0:25 on top, and 4:35 down. Woodall and others have done it in 10 hours, and some have elected to camp, but flat spots and running water are very scarce on this route. Any hike with 2000 meters of gain will be a major effort.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6670 ft / 2032 m
    Extra Gain:102 ft / 31 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9 mi / 14.5 km
    Route:SW Slopes/Ridge
    Trailhead:Silver-Skagit Rd Spur  2051 ft / 625 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Rope, Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:6 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 35 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.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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