Ascent of Latour Peak on 2015-08-17

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, August 17, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Latour Peak
    Elevation:6408 ft / 1953 m

Ascent Trip Report

Latour Creek road is in excellent shape for a dirt road--after exiting I-90 and heading south, the pavement runs out after a few miles but the dirt road is well graded and easy driving past houses and farms. The last major landmark is a private campground, after that you are on state forest land, I believe. I did this drive late at night, and after driving south for a long ways I found a wide spot in the road and pulled over to sleep in the back of my car.

Logging trucks rumbled past me all night, oddly enough, but they paid my car no mind. At dawn I drove backwards north a bit and turned uphill on the unsigned Road 2309, a wide gravel road that is the only major spur on the east side of Latour Creek Road south of the campground. Road 2309 switchbacked steeply uphill at first and provided views to the valley below. At a major junction about 2 miles in at a hairpin turn, I bore left and the road quality deteriorated. Shortly after that I bore left again at a junction with a spur road, and then left again. This last turn was a mistake, the spur was a very bad road and very shortly a sign said "area closed due to fire danger". I backed up out of this spur road, and then backed up more down the main road to a wide spot and parked. Not wanting to damage my car anymore, I decided to walk from here, at 3860 feet. My Subaru could have made it farther, but it had been making noises from its undercarriage and I didn't want to scratch up the paint job from the brush that awaited above, based on trip reports.

So I hiked the road uphill, starting at 6:37 AM--it was a pretty rocky and rough track, and I definitely recommend high clearance unless you want to really trash your passenger car. I shortly saw another temporary "area closed to fire danger" sign--I was a bit concerned by this, but figured I was OK, having left my car behind. After a few downhill spurs on the left, the main road made two big switchbacks in a huge clear-cut area, and then entered the section where the brush was encroaching on the road. This stretch was short and still easy to hike, but a car might get a little scraped, and the ruts and rocks of the roadbed would be no fun, either. After the brushy part, the road was pretty nice as it made a very long and straight traverse, but boring for hiking.

I noticed that the road paralleled under the NW ridge of Latour Peak and then swung south, out of the way, so at a convenient spot I left the road and hiked up steep meadows and talus to the crest of the NW ridge, and then followed that to the summit. It was nice to leave the logging road and get a more alpine experience. The ridge was easy going, mostly open meadow with occasional talus fields and tree groves, and it went over a couple of minor bumps. This mountain range (the Saint Joe Mountains) is actually quite scenic and pleasant if you ignore all the logging roads and clear cuts.

I reached the summit of Latour via the NW ridge at 8:30 AM, and I took a short break and admired the views--still a bit smoky and hazy from the huge forest fires in eastern Washington. Then I quickly hiked over to Twin Crags and its almost-totally-gone lookout tower, since it has a contending contour. Next it was a sidehilling SW traverse across open meadows to the south ridge of Latour, where I picked up an ATV trail that took me back down to the main road.

From there I hiked south on the mostly level road that led to South Latour (apparently called Iron Mast Mountain on old Forest Service maps). The road ended at an ATV gate and became a trail that made a short, steep ascent almost to Point 6168, possibly the summit of Iron Mast. Bypassing this for now, I took the path as it descended a bit, and then took a faint path uphill to the Benewah County high point. The terrain was easy to navigate. The summit here was marked by a cairn with a register jar, recently placed by Jobe Wymore. My traverse from Latour to this CoHP took me 50 minutes, from 8:40 to 9:30 AM. I took another 10 minute rest here, eating some snacks and reading the register entries.

I then retraced my steps back to the main road, only detouring to quickly bag the bald meadows of the 6168 foot summit. From the main road, I just started hiking quickly downhill. I wanted to be back in Seattle by late afternoon so I tried to make good time, and I even tried jogging the road, something I very rarely do. This was not easy in heavy hiking boots, and I tripped once and embarrassingly cut my hand. It was a long way down, and to save a little time I cut off one of the road's switchbacks by cutting through logging slash in the clear-cut--probably not much of a time saver.

I got back to the car at 11:13 AM, 1 hour 33 minutes down from Iron Mast Peak. My time away from the car was 4 hours, 36 minutes. Taking off 20 minutes for two 10-minute summit breaks, my hiking time was about 4:15, an average moving time of about 3.3 mph for the 14.1 mile hike--that sounds about right for fast road walking (with a little jogging and easy scrambling thrown in).

I did not see any signs of living humans above my parking spot. An ATV followed my uphill in the morning, but that was the only activity on this Monday. I had no issues driving back down the rough gravel to the well-graded Latour Creek Road, and I was soon back on I-90.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2628 ft / 800 m
    Total Elevation Loss:628 ft / 191 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6.3 mi / 10.1 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Hazy from smoke
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2548 ft / 776 m
    Distance:5.3 mi / 8.5 km
    Route:Road to W Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Road 2309  3860 ft / 1176 m
    Time:1 Hours 55 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:628 ft / 191 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 548 ft / 167 m; Extra: 80 ft / 24m
    Gain on way out:80 ft / 24 m
    Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    Route:S Ridge
    End Trailhead:LaTour S Col  5860 ft / 1786 m
    Time:20 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: 2015 - LaTour

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Latour Peak2015-08-17 a2628 ft / 801 m
2Latour Peak-South Ridge Summit2015-08-17 b360 ft / 110 m
3Iron Mast Mountain2015-08-17 c158 ft / 48 m
Total Trip Gain: 3146 ft / 959 m    Total Trip Loss: 3046 ft / 928 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
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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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