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Ascent of North Mountain on 2007-07-14

Climber: Eric Noel

Others in Party:Greg Slayden
Date:Saturday, July 14, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Hi-Clearance Vehicle
Peak:North Mountain
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:3840 ft / 1170 m

Ascent Trip Report

EN: "I drove this mountain after work on a weekday in September 2004. This would have made it my second P2000 in Washington. The only problem is that I didn't realize until later that the highpoint was on the forested area to the south and not at the lookout area which was what I visited. With my conscience nagging at me since then, I was able to talk Greg into doing this peak after we had finished with Dock Butte. We drove most of the way to the top but were sadly blocked by a gate with an attached info notice. Apparently this road is closed as of 4/21/07 right here. You'll note that the map shows another road right at that location, this is a grass and dirt spur road to the right, more on that later. The posting invokes whatever legal reasoning they have and given that they posted a legal notice and map rather than just locking a gate I would guess that there is a good chance this is a permanent or long term closure.

"We took the obvious option and hoofed it up the road to the lookout. This road is in good shape and could be biked since it can't be driven . It's about 1.25 miles one way to the lookout from the gate. I was rather annoyed at having to walk this good road that I had driven before and thought that walking this road kinda sucked. After reaching the lookout, we climbed it because that is about the only way to get a view above the trees. We could see the forested area to the south. We dropped from the lookout road off the edge to the south and started bushwhacking. The terrain was not steep at all but mostly dense young trees, dead branches, a little slide alder etc. In time we hit the remnants of an abandoned undriveable road that went North South. It was quite overgrown with branches but it was better than the forest, at least in places. We followed this and some white flagging, continuing on to the south. Eventually the road got worse, pretty bad and we followed the path of least resistance in the right direction while trying to stay near the ridgetop. The flagging was still spotted here and there which was of a little bit of comfort since I'd underestimated this and we hadn't even brought a map, compass or GPS. In time we reached what seemed to be the highest ground, at a little spot where we had a view of a little ravine which I believe is the sliding escarpment that Paul mentions. It was forested here but open enough to see and there did not appear anything higher around. We were gonna angle NW and try to hit the good road there and cut off some distance but the going looked lousy. As the terrain was sort of drawing us back north anyway, we decided we should maybe just go right back the way we came rather than venture into the unknown brush to the west. So that's what we did, following pretty closely on our ascent route. We hit the abandoned road and followed this all the way back. At one point it appeared to be fading out but it quickly improved again. While still brushy, this is definitely the route you want to take most of the way. Eventually this verdant verde viaduct spat us back onto the lookout road about where the words "Lookout Tower" are written on the map. If you are walking the road on the way up, look for a fairly indistinct indentation in the brush and a bit of white flagging for this path. Upon reaching the road I was absolutely ecstatic at the prospect of walking this brush free zone which before had seemed a hot, boring and tedious roadwalk. And so we did walk it, back to the car.

"The brush is fairly unpleasant. It's class one basically but you need to be a little bit careful that you don't bash yourself right off the ridge edge which did have dropoffs in some places especially on the east side of the ridge. But really this "climb" is sort of in the Cascadian category of easy but unpleasant. No tricky crux to stop you, but a little bit of suffering will be required. As mentioned earlier, there is one other possible approach. You could try to drive that dirt and grass road that goes east from the gate. It may not last long and it may require 4WD, I just don't know since we didn't try it. Conceivably though this could get you up to about 3680 if you could drive it to the road end on the map. If driveable to the road end shown on the map it would perhaps be a slightly shorter off-trail distance than our route and it cuts off the road walk portion of the trip. In your wildest dreams, you might even hope that the lumberjacks have punched the road even closer to the summit than is shown on the map. On the other hand, you'd have to fight up and down through the brush while our route was more flat and we did benefit a bit from the abandoned roadbed. If I were to do this again I would try driving that spur road just in the hopes of getting lucky and finding that I could get even closer than the endpoint of this road shown on the map. But barring that unlikely bit of good fortune, I'd be inclined to repeat our exit route. Long pants and shirt are recommended and gaiters might not even be a bad idea. Going up the lookout is a good idea, in part to get a view of the true summit and intervening terrain. Also, it is worth visiting the lookout because the view from there of Darrington area peaks like Whitehorse is frankly about the only redeeming feature of this peak. Given the low elevation and relative accessibility of this peak, I would definitely consider it as a winter hike option. I don't think there were any gates until the one at the location noted above so you could drive to the snowline. Road are always more pleasant to snowshoe than walk in my opinion. A decent snowpack might put you above some of the brush, plus it wouldn't be leafed out. So I would strongly consider that option if I were to do this again, which I sure as hell won't."--Eric Noel, July 14, 2007
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:680 ft / 206 m
    Extra Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:3.4 mi / 5.5 km
    Route:Road then Sucky Brush
    Trailhead:New Gate at 3400'  3360 ft / 1024 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear



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