Ascent of Ten-Four Mountain on 2012-09-22

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, September 22, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Ten-Four Mountain
    Elevation:4384 ft / 1336 m

Ascent Trip Report

I found that mountain biking up Ten Four Mountain from Ben Howard Road is a reasonable way to reach this obscure but prominent wooded bump.

Having heard tales of survivalists, homeless people, and “hillbillies” in the area, a friend from the area advised me not to park on Ben Howard. So I parked at the Park and Ride lot on the east end of Sultan, left at 8 AM, and biked the flat 2.23 miles on US 2, Mann Road across the Skykomish River, and then west on Ben Howard to the gated dirt road turnoff, 1.12 miles west of the Mann/Ben Howard junction.

The dirt road from here was easy biking for the first 5 miles and I made good time. At about 1100 feet the road starts climbing at a big switchback, and above this point I probably walked the bike uphill half the time to Airplane Lake—on the less steep parts I would pedal a bit until my lungs or legs gave out, and then walk some. The road was in great shape, if a bit rocky in spots. I was in a continuous misty drizzle and clouds, but there were some views down to the valley in spots.

At tiny Airplane Lake there was a major logging operation going on, and the roads were all chewed up by recent truck activity. I turned right on the dotted-line road on the map, but quickly decided to stash my bike here at 3080 feet, due the road steepness and roughness. So I hiked uphill to the ridge near point 3557 and turned east, now wishing I had my bike for the level road along the ridge. It was a nicely overgrown road, though, that made for easy walking. A couple roads led down the south slopes of the peak, maybe headed for the Tolt area or even Duvall.

I took the spur road that dead-ended at 4030 feet. From here is was about 350 vertical feet and 1500 horizontal feet of bushwhacking to the summit. How bad could that be? Wait, Northwestern peakbaggers, don’t answer that. It was actually pretty bad—the closely-spaced trees and jackstraw blowdown were impenetrable in spots, but my main issue was the misty drizzle had left the vegetation very wet. I might as well have jumped in a lake. This would have gone much better in dry conditions.

Once across the National Forest boundary the bushwhacking opened up a bit and the last part to the summit was OK. I arrived at 11:35 AM, a bit over three and a half hours up from my car in Sultan. I found the highest tree-root ball and the Taco Bell salad jar register left by Ken, Dean, and Eric in 2007—many of the usual suspects had signed in (Stolk, Shetter, Goodman, Beavon) but not those who had summited in snowy conditions.

My main issue was that I was so wet I was worried about hypothermia, since I did not bring a lot of extra warm clothes. So I left, found a better bushwhack route down (advice: avoid the ridgecrest and stay south, but it is still not great by any means), and once on the wide, easy road, I hiked quickly to warm up. I took a rest a ways down to wring out my socks and eat, but I got pretty chilled after a bit, so I had to keep moving.

Back at my bike I started coasting down the steep, rocky road, keeping a Kung-Fu grip on the brakes for the first couple of miles. At some steep spots I even walked it downhill to avoid wiping out. Below the 1100-foot switchback, it was fast and easy coasting downhill. I was down at my car in Sultan about 1 hour and 10 minutes after getting on my bike at Airplane Lake, a distance of 11 miles.

So even though I put this down as a 27.5 mile round-trip “hike”, actually 21.8 miles of that was cycling (with a little bit of walking with the bike), and only 5.7 was actual walking, and the wet bushwhacking was only about 0.6 miles total.

I didn’t see a soul above Ben Howard Road the entire day, and I didn’t see any evidence of riff-raff of any kind. My guess is that you would be OK to park in a turnout near the closed gate. There is a sign about 3 miles in saying that the land is private but non-motorized recreation is allowed—very enlightened. Overall, I think this is a pretty good way to get this peak, as long as the woods are dry and you are OK with a bit of mountain biking.

(Mileage reported in trip stats is for hiking portion of trip only).
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:4384 ft / 1336 m
    Elevation Loss:4384 ft / 1336 m
    Distance:5.7 mi / 9.2 km
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Calm, White-out
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:4324 ft / 1318 m
    Extra Loss:60 ft / 18 m
    Distance:2.9 mi / 4.7 km
    Route:297th/Airplane Lake
    Trailhead:Sultan P&R  120 ft / 36 m
    Time Up:3 Hours 35 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:4324 ft / 1318 m
    Extra Gain:60 ft / 18 m
    Distance:2.8 mi / 4.5 km
    Route:297th/Airplane Lake
    Trailhead:Sultan P&R  120 ft / 36 m
    Time Down:2 Hours 25 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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