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Ascent of Dirtyface Peak on 2013-06-29

Climber: Craig Willis

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, June 29, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Dirtyface Peak
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:6240 ft / 1901 m

Ascent Trip Report

I took the Eric Noel route variation. I do not recommend it. The old abandoned road system has been consumed by brushy/bushy growth in *numerous* sections. Either Eric completely understated the amount of bushwhacking needed, or plant growth has substantially increased in the past four years, or both.

Eric's assertion is correct that the brushiest sections do not last long, but there are *many* such sections and they get really annoying. In several sections, the road was so overgrown that it forced me to bushwhack off of the road to get to it further up (or down). In some such sections, the road was no longer visible at all due to the amount of brush and I had to sort of guess where the road went. I had to nearly crawl through some sections, too. Much of the road system is easy to follow, but most of the time I was pushing some sort of branch or bush out of my way. To put things in perspective for local P2K peakbaggers, the brushiness and bushwhacking involved for this road far exceeds that of the upper road system southwest of Mount Index.

Let's start from the beginning:
FR-6300, despite numerous small potholes, can probably currently be driven by any street legal vehicle. The first three miles are paved, and the remaining 4.4 miles to the parking area are good gravel.

The first "trail" from the parking area is totally overgrown. Surprisingly, the small wooden bridge is still fairly intact. Then the brush returns soon afterwards. I missed the (probably overgrown) cutoff for the spur road... Eric incorrectly states that its junction is at 2960' but it is really 2760'. I never found the road junction but could see the road above me so I bushwhacked up to it. The spur road initially looked good, but within minutes it was completely swallowed up by slide alder and really thick brush. With no "trails" showing the way, I had to navigate as best that I could through that section to another part of the road above (which was better quality).

The switchback section was the easiest section to follow/figure out, and during my descent later on I was able to correctly guess ways to bypass large sections of those switchbacks rather than following them. At nearly 3400' elevation, I reached the final roadway... which was LONG. It seemed to take forever, especially with the numerous bushwhacking sections I encountered. Eventually, I reached the timbered slope where I would leave the road... approximately 2.5 hours after I started.

When I first left the road (~3800' elevation), I had to do a little log hopping and angled-ascent of a short semi-open timbered area before soon reaching the evergreen forested ridgeline. Then I was staring at a super-steep forested slope; steep enough to give me concern for the later descent. Overall, this section seemed to go fairly quick, as I steeply ascended 1800' and reached Point 5634 within an hour. At approximately 5100' elevation, I started walking through huckleberry bush areas that were between ankle-high to knee-high, but never a hinderance to progress. At approximately 5400' elevation, I started walking through a more-bouldery section, unlike the forest duff which had been the lower part of the off-road journey.

Once Point 5634 is near, veer left and bypass it on the left side (as the other/right side of Point 5634 is a cliff). Drop down a little before heading up to Point 5680+. Between those two points a person can get an awesome view of Dirtyface Peak. Then the final ridge traverse/scramble was straightforward (as Eric indicated). There was some snow present, but nothing to impede progress. Unfortunately, as I ascended the final slope to the summit, a thunderstorm began. This forced me to decide to leave the summit as soon as I arrived, as thunder cracked and a brief drizzle began. I did not expect thundershowers on this day, but it was still hot and very muggy.

When I got back near the mostly open slopes of Point 5634, I stopped for what ended up being a brief snack break atop a boulder. Within a couple of minutes, something bit me on my neck. I figured it was a mosquito, as THOUSANDS of mosquitoes must have been swarming me all day along this route. But it was not a mosquito; I pulled the insect free of my neck and noticed it was a small red-colored ant. There was no anthill or mounds nearby, so there must have been a nearby anthole hidden from view. Then I noticed numerous ants were marching over my backpack, boots, and pants. And as I swept them off my geear and my person, I realized something else... some ants had gotten *into* my pants. And then under my underwear. My body was being attacked from within my clothes. It was not a fun experience.

Getting down from near Point 5634 to the road went smoother than expected. I did not follow my exact route for the descent, especially on the lower slopes near the road. I zig-zagged when needed and despite the steepness there were no major difficulties.

The on-road parts of this route were not enjoyable. The off-road parts of this route were straightforward. Flying bitting insects were attacking me from the moment I opened my car door to the moment I returned. The ant experience is not one I care to repeat, either. The weather changed from clear skies at the car, to mostly sunny, to mostly cloudy when I left the road, to thundershowers when nearing (and at) the summit, to mostly cloudy when returning towards Point 5634, to more thundershowers during the long upper road stretch, to mostly sunny on the lower road and then back to the car. It was hot and humid all day; I was roasting.

If I were to go back to Dirtyface Peak or make a recommendation to others, I would try the route from the true "trail" on the ridge (that goes to the former lookout site) and then take my chances with the long up-and-down traverse of the ridge. I would prefer that over the annoying road-bushwhacking I had to do on my route.

When I got home, my wife said I was the dirtiest she had seen me in a long time after an outdoor trip. When the trip was over,I not only had gotten Dirtyface, I also had gotten dirtyboots, dirtypants, dirtyarms, dirtyshirt, and dirtybackpack.
:-)
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3815 ft / 1161 m
    Extra Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:10 mi / 16.1 km
    Trailhead:Parking Area Near FR-6300 Gate  2625 ft / 800 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Thunderstorm, Hot, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:0 Days 5 Hours 0 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:0 Days 3 Hours 30 Minutes



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