Ascent of Crook Peak on 2016-08-21

Climber: Daniel Mick

Others in Party:Heather Campbell
Donna Vandall
Jen Cox
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, August 21, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Crook Peak
    Elevation:7834 ft / 2387 m

Ascent Trip Report

Trip report for the entire Fremont Ridge: Light Peak, Drake Peak, Twelvemile Peak, McDowell Peak, and Crook Peak.

3615 is paved all the way to the Northern terminus at Swale Trailhead. The road to Drake Peak Lookout is gravel but doable by any car until the last mile which is doable by most any SUV. If worried, or there is snow, there is a large borrow pit to park at (42.3062, -120.1612).

The road from the lookout to Light Peak is not as well maintained but still doable by SUVs going slow. The trail down the SE ridge of Light Peak is actually in much better shape, however, it's for 4WD/low gear only since it's steep enough and the gravel slippery enough that an underpowered car would not be able to climb back up. We did not attempt it in Elements, and from my experience I could tell they wouldn't have been able to deliver enough power for the slope.

We did this the day after Gearhart Mountain, 1.5 hour drive to the West. Drake Peak Lookout is the highest rentable place in Oregon at 8222 feet. For comparison, Silcox Hut which is a mile up slope from Timberline Lodge on Hood is only 6950 feet. Unfortunately, Drake Peak Lookout is booked solid all 6 months of the rental window. However, we were able to stay in the quaint Aspen Cabin which is only a few miles away. It is a wood-warmed cabin with table and chairs, 3 cots (were supposed to be 4 - It could sleep 6 if everyone was close), and kitchen surfaces. No light or water, but there is a spigot at the Mud Creek Campground just a mile down the road. Right next to a creek and surrounded by aspens it would be a super charming Autumn getaway!

There are numerous trailhead approaches to the Fremont ridge. However we did it as a (mostly) one way hike and shuttle. Haldf the time was cross-country and half followed the Fremont Trail, but the trail does not at all in any way follow the marked topo trail - review satellite images instead. The trail has very recently been tended as is wide, well-graded, and well-marked. The country has low brush and grass that is easy to hike through, however, we all wished we had low gaiters since we got quite a few seeds and burrs in our socks all day long. The views throughout the day are sweeping and stunning. I've never had such a long traverse with such great views.

We parked on the summit of Light Peak and hiked over to Drake Peak without any gear. A jeep trail goes halfway and there are a couple boot tracks continuing half way up Drake. There are a couple rock formations along the way that we scrambled to the top of for fun (Class 1). The final bit on Drake is relatively steep but not scrambling. We returned to the cars, had a break, and then continued North along the ridge.
3 miles, 1000 feet gain

There are almost no trees the entire traverse. Just head North along the ridge line towards your next objective staying slightly on the West side. This drops 800 feet in elevation to the saddle and was a pleasant cross-country ramble. The South ridge of Twelvemile has some intimidating looking boulders between 7700 and 7900 but they are still Class 1 scrambling, no hands rquired. Just pick your way carefully and zigzag.
1.9 miles, 700 feet gain

We continued North along the ridge towards McDowell. The marked Fremont trail traverse mid slope but the actual Fremont trail skirts the woods below. The saddle between Twelvemile and McDowell is one of only two places that cross the trees. This section is FILLED with blowdown. Had we known how to get to the Fremont we would have since it would have saved time even though it would have added a quarter or half mile. Check the satellite images - it is clearly visible. After the trees we merged with the Fremont for the first time and were impressed with what good condition it was in! We then followed it through the next patch of trees (though cut off one small bend). North of the saddle we hiked along the trail until it seemed it stopped gaining elevation and chose a cross-country route to the summit. There is a rock pile on the North end of the summit block that is obviously higher than the one furthest South.
2 miles, 400 feet gain

We continued North along the ridge towards Crook. At 42.3565, -120.1649 we encountered an old unmaintained section of the Fremont bordered by rock. It hadn't been tended for years and was overgrown. It suddenly stopped after a couple hundred yards. You can see now from satellite that it's an abandoned section that splits off at 42.3548, -120.1660. Regardless, we re-merged with the Fremont while in the trees. We followed the trail as it gained elevation on crook before splitting off to proceed upslope. It was scorching hot by this point so we linked up patches of trees for some moments of shade and water. The summit block is a fun chunky scramble.
1.7 miles, 700 feet gain

We followed the NE ridge down which is less steep than the South slope, veering off in open country to regain the Fremont trail. We then followed this the remainder of the way out. The final stretch is a beautiful meadow with old growth and a babbling brook. Our shuttle was waiting for us in the parking lot just 100 yards north of the road.
1.6 miles, 1280 feet loss

1/1 ACCESS - straight forward directions
2/2 REMOTENESS (Popularity, Sight/Sound) - first known trip report of this traverse. The Fremont Trail would be wonderful to do another non-peakbagging time.
1/1 CONDITION - wide, well-marked, well-maintained trail - cross-country travel is easy
3/3 VARIETY (Flora and Fauna, Geological, Terrain) - interesting geology, lots of butterflies, still some wildflowers - would be glorious wildflowers early season
3/3 VIEWS - 360 views for 100 miles almost the entire climb
TOTAL 10/10
(does not include difficulty since hikers may prefer opposite extremes)

Ultimate OR & WA Lists: CoHP, CoPP, Top e100, Top p100
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3400 ft / 1036 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3891 ft / 1185 m
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Very Windy, Clear
Descent (To Destination) Statistics
    Gain on way in:3400 ft / 1036 m
    Loss on way in:3891 ft / 1185 m
    Distance:12.5 mi / 20.1 km
    Route:Drake-Crook Traverse
    Start Trailhead:Light Peak  8325 ft / 2537 m
    Time:7 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Drake-Crook Traverse

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Drake Peak Lookout2016-08-213400 ft / 1036 m
2Light Peak2016-08-213400 ft / 1036 m
3Drake Peak2016-08-213482 ft / 1061 m
4Twelvemile Peak2016-08-213400 ft / 1036 m
5McDowell Peak2016-08-213400 ft / 1036 m
6Crook Peak2016-08-213400 ft / 1036 m
Total Trip Gain: 20482 ft / 6241 m    Total Trip Loss: 21846 ft / 6658 m

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