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Ascent of Sumas Mountain on 2008-03-22

Climber: Edward Earl

Others in Party:Eric Noel
Date:Saturday, March 22, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Sumas Mountain
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:3430 ft / 1045 m

Ascent Trip Report

On Feb 16, Greg Slayden, Bob Bolton, Duane Gilliland, Eric Noel, and I organized a trip to climb Sumas Mtn near Bellingham WA. We tried a shortcut that did not work out and, because of the time lost, we did not summit. The route we attempted had other problems as well: the area is frequently a ground for target practice, and the people doing the shooting don't bother to make sure they're not shooting into someplace where there could be other people (e.g. hikers like us). While on the route, however, we encountered a pickup truck and driver who alerted us to the fact that there was another approach. A recent email poll of the previous Sumas party plus a few other possibly interested parties about another attempt on Sumas showed that only Eric and I were available for a reattempt this weekend, but we decided to call that a quorum, so we made the trip on Mar 22.

From I-5 in Bellingham, we headed E on WA-542 for 11 miles, then WA-9 N for 7 miles to a T-junction near the tiny town of Nooksack. Here WA-9 turns left, and we turned right onto South Pass Rd. After 7 more miles, we turned right on Paradise Valley Rd, which is unpaved but suitable for any street legal vehicle. Note or zero your odometer here.

At 0.2 miles, we turned L just past a barn. < The road straight ahead, which was the route we used last time, heads steeply uphill.> Shortly thereafter we passed through a gate. At 1.4 miles we turned R at a fork. At 1.5 miles, we reached a 4-way junction where the choices are straight ahead, 90° L, and sharp L. The main road, which we took, is the one that goes 90° L. At 1.6 miles is a minor spur on the R. At 2.0 miles, we stayed straight at a fork (the other choice is a L turn). At 2.7 miles, we reached a T-junction, where we turned R. At 3.4 miles is a sharply backward-angled spur on the R. At 3.8 miles, we went R at a fork near the far side of a clearcut. At 3.9 miles is a minor spur on the R. At 4.6 miles is a minor spur on the L. At 4.9 miles and again at 5.1 miles, we went R at a fork. Just past the second fork is a slight drop which was covered with snow at the time; we decided not to attempt to drive any farther and parked on a nearby short dead-end spur on the L. The elevation here was about 1740'.

We hiked up the occasionally snow-covered road, passing a couple of spurs on the R. At about 2200', after about ½ hour hiking time, we turned sharply R on a snow-covered side road. The snow was somewhat more consolidated than on our previous attempt, but there was a few inches of fresh powder, so Eric decided to don his snowshoes. (The mover still has mine.) Views opened up and Mount Baker was visible for most of the rest of the climb on this nearly bluebird day. As we gained elevation, Mount Shuksan came into view behind the northern flanks of Baker. After several switchbacks, the road gains the summit of Sumas. We couldn't locate the highest earth because of snow covereage, but as best as we could tell, the summit is the middle of three bumps on the north-south trending ridge. We visited all three bumps just to be sure. Views were magnificent and included the Nooksack River valley, the San Juan Islands, a spectacular wall of unidentified-by-either-of-us peaks in Canada, and Vancouver island. Baker looked so close your could practically reach out and touch. If it weren't for some haze, we probably could have seen the Olympics.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1680 ft / 512 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1680 ft / 512 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Trailhead:Paradise Valley  1750 ft / 533 m
Descent Statistics



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