Ascent of Big Gee on 2013-06-15

Climber: Craig Willis

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, June 15, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Big Gee
    Elevation:5080 ft / 1548 m

Ascent Trip Report

Of the four P2Ks within "Logger's Island", I had saved Big Gee as the last to do. In retrospect, it was probably a good thing that I did because I really did not like Big Gee and it would have soured my expectations of the other three... each of which were much more straightforward.

I initially felt misled by the driving instructions, as several of my friends had told me in advance that my 2WD passenger vehicle could drive up much of Forest Road 1705 (especially after the USFS did some repairs last year). But I will start sooner than that... First, I was pleasantly surprised (and a little ecstatic) that the first six miles of Forest Road 17 (Finney Creek Road) are paved. After that, it was an easy half-paved/half-gravel drive for the remaining 1.9 miles to Forest Road 1705. Any passenger vehicle should be able to drive at least to this intersection. But Forest Road 1705 was another story.

I drove up Forest Road 1705 and immediately thought it was a good-graded forest road. For the most part, it was. It looked like someone had recently been up the road trimming branches and working on the roadway. However, I soon encountered a large water bar (almost like a speed bump) crossing the road. And then another one. And then another one. And so on. The bottom of my car scraped a couple of the water bars, and my car nearly lost all control on two others; if I had any more weight in the car the clearance probably would not have been enough, although an extra person could have given me more sightlines. If it were not for the annoying (and, in most cases, seemingly unnecessary) water bars, the road would have been very drivable by my car. This routine of "good road->water bar->good road->water bar..." continued for several miles, until I finally decided to not chance going too high up and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with little-to-no turnaround. I found enough space to turnaround near a switchback (marked Point 2273 on maps) and parked there. My parking spot seemed suitable and my car was safe, but I was frustrated that this low starting location added approximately four miles, a lot of extra elevation gain/loss, and road walking/hiking time to the trip. If I had a high-clearance vehicle, especially if 4WD, this road would have been no problem all the way to the top gate... which the USFS currently has closed for wildlife.

Once at the ridgetop, I headed westward and soon passed the quarry. The route was as others have described. I probably took more time than I should have, but given the fact that I was solo, having to deal with a lot of brush, and needing to skirt some rocky pinnacles, I took my time. I needed to take advantage of veggie belays on several slopes. I brought and wore my microspikes for three of the steepest slopes, including side-traversing the final pinnacle. Thank goodness I visited this peak during dry conditions; if these slopes were wet they would probably be exceptionally dangerous. The scrambling on the second-half of the approach gave me multiple moments of pause and slow-going. The summit was a little disappointing... nothing much more than a small rock cairn, although with a fantastic viewpoint (especially of Mount Baker). I made good time during the descent, especially after the quarry when I was able to jog down the rest of the road back to the car. I made it back just in time to have a family outing at the Strawberry Festival parade in Marysville that evening.

If I were to rank the "Logger's Island" P2Ks, I would rank this as the most technically difficult. It is also the furthest in to drive for the approach, and most of the drive is along great roads. No rope is needed for the ascent/descent, but the brush-bashing, scrambling, and veggie belaying was a tad annoying at times. There were some great views along the ridgetop, but similar good views can be seen from other nearby peaks; non-prominence seekers should not waste their time going to Big Gee, but to each their own.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3807 ft / 1160 m
    Elevation Loss:3807 ft / 1160 m
    Distance:12 mi / 19.3 km
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:3307 ft / 1008 m
    Extra Loss:500 ft / 152 m
    Distance:6 mi / 9.7 km
    Route:Road 1705 / East Ridge
    Trailhead:Switchback Corner on FR-1705  2273 ft / 692 m
    Time Up:0 Days 5 Hours 0 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:3307 ft / 1008 m
    Extra Gain:500 ft / 152 m
    Distance:6 mi / 9.7 km
    Route:East Ridge / Road 1705
    Trailhead:Switchback Corner on FR-1705  2273 ft / 692 m
    Time Down:0 Days 3 Hours 0 Minutes

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