Ascent of Gilbert Peak on 2015-06-07

Climber: Greg Slayden

Others in Party:Craig Willis
Date:Sunday, June 7, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Gilbert Peak
    Elevation:8184 ft / 2494 m

Ascent Trip Report

Craig and I slept in our cars at the trailhead and hit the trail at 4:37 AM. We made good progress on the virtually flat trail up the South Fork of the Tieton for over 4 miles, then turned right uphill on a trail that made wide, easy switchbacks uphill--the only issue was frequent large logs across the trail that required scrambling to get over. At a cairn we turned right again on an initially brushy trail that slabbed uphill to a break in a cliff band to a pass. This offered a pleasant shady grove where we took a rest and cached our jackets and some water. It was shaping up to be a scorcher of a day.

From the pass we travelled uphill towards Warm Lake, losing the faint trail in snowbanks and accidentally gaining too much elevation over a minor hill. We crossed a stream and then went directly uphill to Warm Lake, skirted it while looking for the tent of our friend Ken who we knew had camped there (but never saw it). After a rest in some rocks beyond Warm Lake, we directly climbed 400' straight up a steep snow slope to the main Klickton Divide ridge. We found fresh footsteps that were a big help, likely made by Ken and his partner, also named Ken.

On the ridge we followed it northwest for a mile and half, staying close to the crest, alternating travel on dusty rock and the adjacent crest of snow, sometimes in a moat. The scrambling was mostly class 2 but somewhat annoying due to constant routefinding and ups and downs. The ridge became much more broad after a bit, with large snow domes making for easier going, to a big plateau where the summit pyramid loomed ahead like a shark's tooth.

As we started up the final pyramid, we saw Ken and Ken above, near the summit, heading down. They told us how they went up, so we scrambled up a short Class 3 cliff, then up some steep, icy snow (with steps) to where we could traverse left into some volcanic junk rock. Here we met Ken and Ken and chatted briefly before continuing up. We stayed below a snowfield that came down from the summit crags, and climbed up the left side of it to the furthest left (NW) tower. These rock fangs looked formidable, but it was actually pretty easy to climb to the summit, class 3 on rock that wasn't too rotten by volcanic standards.

We arrived at about 11:37, for a seven hour climb. The summit was an airy perch of fractured vertical rocks, and one could tell that it was slightly higher than the next pinnacle to the SE. We could not find a register. Views of the surrounding volcanoes were, of course, spectacular on this clear hot day.

We left the summit at noon and after scrambling down the rocky ridge we decided to climb down a short snow slope to an old bootpath that traversed a snowfield back to the rocks. Then we headed down the ridge, easily plunge-stepping down the wide snowy slopes of the plateau and higher dome-shaped terrain. While traversing the sharper rocky ridge section we ran into Ken and Ken again, and took a rest with them--they had camped below Warm Lake, which is why we never saw their tent.

Craig and I took off first and continued along the ridge, and when we came to an knob that required some uphill, we instead took off downhill on the snow slope directly to Warm Lake. The slope was steep but the snow was excellent for plunge-stepping. Just below the lake we found a running brook emerging from a snowbank that provided us with some much needed 32.00001 degree water--I saw no need to filter it.

The rest of the hike was just a long slog back in increasing heat as we descended and the afternoon wore on. We considered taking the route via Surprise Lake on the way back, but I didn't have a map for that route and we figured we'd stick with the devil we knew, blowdown and all. The last 4.2 miles on the flat trail to the car were an ordeal for us, footsore and fatigued, and we were happy to arrive at 6:10 PM.

Doing Gilbert in a day is definitely a long haul, about 23 miles by the reckoning of my GPS. I kind of wish we had tried the Surprise Lake variation on the way down, but we did hear there is more horse traffic there. Super fit hikers with good snow-travel skills could definitely improve on our 13.5 hour day, but it would still be a long grind for all but the strongest. A good idea might be a mountain bike for the first 2.5 miles or so of the a very flat and wide trail, which would save effort and be a very welcome aid on way back when you are tired and just want to get back quickly.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4534 ft / 1381 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4534 ft / 1381 m
    Round-Trip Distance:23.2 mi / 37.3 km
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4434 ft / 1351 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4184 ft / 1275 m; Extra: 250 ft / 76m
    Loss on way in:250 ft / 76 m
    Distance:11.6 mi / 18.7 km
    Route:SE Ridge/Warm Lake
    Start Trailhead:Conrad Meadows  4000 ft / 1219 m
    Time:7 Hours 0 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4284 ft / 1305 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4184 ft / 1275 m; Extra: 100 ft / 30m
    Gain on way out:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:11.5 mi / 18.6 km
    Route:SE Ridge/Warm Lake
    End Trailhead:Conrad Meadows  4000 ft / 1219 m
    Time:6 Hours 10 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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