Ascent of Lennox Mountain on 2019-05-03

Climber: Connor McEntee

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, May 3, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Lennox Mountain
    Elevation:5894 ft / 1796 m

Ascent Trip Report

Note: My descent time is heavily inflated by a half hour or more, because I spent quite a while talking with Joe a quarter mile out from the trailhead. I also forgot my water bottle in the car and had to go back to it, probably adding 0.5 mi and 15 minutes of wasted time.

I enjoyed Lennox a lot more than I was expecting. Conditions were just about perfect for a late April/early May ascent. (The only conditions that might make the climb even easier would be in early April with the snow line solidly at 2,600'.) The approach is via FS 6410 (East Miller River Road) which branches off the Old Cascade Highway near Money Creek Campground. There are some slightly confusing detour signs on the Old Cascade Highway stating that the road is closed just a couple of miles from highway 2. FS 6410 branches off right before the closure. The road is in excellent shape all the way to the trailhead, and there are numerous turnout suitable for camping.

The route starts on a decommissioned mining road that parallels the West Fork of the Miller River to the base of Lennox. I came prepared for several miles of brush bashing on an overgrown road. However, I was surprised to find a group just returning from bouldering with crash pads on their backs. It turns out that there is now a maintained trail that runs the length of the road. On my return, I'd meet the local who is maintaining the trail. His name is Joe, and he hadn't been up this way in a decade and couldn't believe how quickly it was reclaimed by the forest. So, he's decided to take it upon himself to maintain it. He's put a lot of effort into this and has some pretty ambitious plans to circumvent a washout.

Thanks to Joe, the approach to Lennox was very pleasant and easy going. The vegetation is just starting to leaf, and a couple weeks later I would have been brushing through leaves further up the canyon. Not paying attention, I walked right past the spur that leads up to the mine on the SE flank of Lennox. Fortunately, I thought to check my GPS only moments after and went cross country uphill to intersect the road. The spur is rather overgrown, and I opted to do the light bushwhack up the hill rather than switchback. The road then takes a long traverse over to Coney Creek, where there are campsites and old mining equipment. The climbing route is flagged and basically goes straight up the slope to Coney Lake trending slightly to climbers left.

Lower down it was definitely a bushwhack. The flagging seemed to disappear within just a few hundred vertical feet. The first obstacle was a cliff band around 2600'. I ended up climbing straight up it mistakenly thinking that it was a cliff band described in other trip reports, but it is easily bypassed to climbers left. At around 3,200' is the cliff band that I was expecting. It forms one side of a gulley. With minimal climbing, it can be bypassed on climber's right and walking along the top naturally dumps into a creek that deeply cuts into the mountain. However, it was very easy to cross the creek via rock hopping, and I remained on the west side of the creek all the way to the basin.

Patchy snow appeared around 3,600' and sustained snow by 3,800'. Because it was clear and cold the night before, the snow was firm, and I had no problem booting up. I even found someone else's descent tracks to follow. With steep off-trail climbs like this, there's always the chance that a few hundred feet on either side of the snow line can be a mess with just an inch or two of wet snow covering muddy dirt. I encountered no such problems.

Around 3,900' I strapped on my snowshoes and kept them on all the way to the summit. The last 1,000' feet to the basin were easy, because all the vegetation and terrain obstacles were covered. Comey Lake Basin was absolutely entombed in snow, and low lying clouds made it difficult to read the terrain. As is standard, I crossed the outlet (there was a pretty big moat opening up) and set off up the ridge. Amusingly, it appeared that two skiers had made a descent within the past few weeks. (I definitely did not envy hauling skis through the brush.) However, within a few minutes clouds blew in and I found myself in a whiteout with only 15' of visibility and almost no depth perception. Fortunately, I could follow the ski tracks and was very careful to trend away from the slopes going down to the lake, since I was concerned that they might be corniced. I actually got up to the saddle a lot sooner than expected and began the traverse to the summit. The west slope is heavily treed, so I felt pretty good even with low visibility. After some route finding challenges, I found myself on the summit proper.

I stayed there long enough that conditions improved slightly giving me views into the basin and the mountains to the east. The descent to the lake was much better. There were no cornices on the south ridge, though the east ridge was heavily loaded. The south ridge does have some avalanche terrain, and I saw plenty of debris though didn't cross any. A little bit lower where it was warmer, I set off several small wet slides. The descent was easy on the snow, but below the snow line it became somewhat tedious. It was nice to reach the spur road and finally the maintained trail. As I was almost back to the car, I ran into Joe, the aforementioned local, who is maintaining the trail. We chatted for a while, and I thanked him profusely before making my way out.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5460 ft / 1664 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5460 ft / 1664 m
    Round-Trip Distance:13.3 mi / 21.4 km
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Cool, Calm, White-out
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5007 ft / 1526 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4554 ft / 1388 m; Extra: 453 ft / 138m
    Loss on way in:453 ft / 138 m
    Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Route:East Approach
    Start Trailhead:East Miller River Road  1340 ft / 408 m
    Time:3 Hours 41 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5007 ft / 1526 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4554 ft / 1388 m; Extra: 453 ft / 138m
    Gain on way out:453 ft / 138 m
    Distance:6.3 mi / 10.1 km
    Route:East Approach
    End Trailhead:East Miller River Road  1340 ft / 408 m
    Time:3 Hours 11 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Connor McEntee
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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.

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