Ascent of Cascade Mountain-North Peak on 2017-08-31

Climber: Monty VanderBilt

Date:Thursday, August 31, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cascade Mountain-North Peak
    Elevation:5553 ft / 1692 m

Ascent Trip Report

Text from that report:

Our party of three a successful climb of Cascade North and enjoyed the first clear air day in a while. I was happy that we got this Home Court peak on the first try, because other peaks with similar hike profiles have taken multiple attempts (Goat, Twin Peaks, Crosby). Like those, this involved thousands of feet of bushwhacking to get to the beautiful meadow areas that start around 4500'. Stefan and Martin's report was very helpful, but lacked photos so we can definitely fix that problem. But I'm afraid we can't add too much about the location of the fisherman's trail to Francis Lake. We stumbled onto it on the way up and managed to mostly stay on it for about 1000'. But even with our GPS track from the way up we weren't able to follow the trail down very well and descending ended up being worse than going up, even if it was 20 minutes shorter.

We parked at the pullout that is the unsigned start of the West Fork Miller trail. The first 3/4 mile of this trail seems to have had deliberate road-to-trail decommissioning but beyond that the road has suffered whatever nature has seen fit to do. Some sections have served as an overflow channel of the main river, others are quite brushy, and in one spot the river took out 500' of the road so you have to drop down to the river boulders to keep going. The 2.5 miles to our jump off point took about an hour.

After one false start we found the correct forested area to leave the trail. We could rock hop the trickle of water in the river and we used the dry rocky stream bed of the Francis Lake outlet stream to get through the dense brush growing near the river. Then we enjoyed open forest for a while and after a thrashing back in forth trying to stay near the stream, we stumbled onto the trail for the first time. The trail was extremely helpful, but took some concentration to follow and frequent looking-around to pick it up again when we lost it. But eventually at ~3800' we lost it for good. This is just below two open rocky slopes that are about the only memorable features on the way up to the lake. Near the lake we veered too far left and unnecessarily climbed some steep blueberry slopes before dropping back down to the lake outlet.

We took a long break at the lake, refilled our water bottles and discussed the route. We ended up doing a variation of the one on Stefan's map, but the cliffs around the lake are not continuous with gaps and gullys connecting big benches so improvising as you go should work for future parties. The low lake level from months of no rain made it easy to traverse around the right side of the lake. Then the climb up through the cliffs, talus, meadows and the final summit ridge was a lot of fun without any major difficulties.

Coming down we repeated our route up except for one improvement to avoid a steep heather section that would have been harder going down. Even though we searched thoroughly for a trail leaving the lake at the outlet we found none and aimed for our waypoint where we were last on the trail on the way up. We found that and managed to stay on the trail down for a few hundred feet but then lost it and were unable to find it again, even though we supposedly crossed it several times based on our GPS track. It's easier bushwhacking downhill than up, but the last 1000' down to the river was the most unpleasant of the whole trip. We went down a different stream channel to the river and hit it at a spot where it pooled up so we couldn't cross. That left a horrible 5 minute final bushwhack through very thick brush higher than our heads to get to our crossing point. The hike out was uneventful and a trail of any kind seemed like a blessing.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Exposed Scramble
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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