Ascent of Elk Mountain on 2008-02-23

Climber: Edward Earl

Others in Party:Eric Noel
Date:Saturday, February 23, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Elk Mountain
    Elevation:1505 ft / 458 m

Ascent Trip Report

From exit 39 on I-5 in Kelso, we headed W on WA-4. For about 30 miles the highway stays close to the Columbia River; then, at Skamokawa, the highway leaves the river and heads N up into the hills. After another 6 miles, the highway passes through a saddle signed "Km Mtn, Elev 760 feet". Just past this pass is a turnoff on the left, prominently signed that unauthorized vehicles and camping are not allowed, and the gate may be locked at any time, but foot travel is OK. We saw no gate, and we gingerly drove in on a paved road that was partly covered by fallen branches. After a few tenths of a mile was a large gravel pullout on the right, where we decided to park. From here we had a view which typifies the area: the clearcuts are ugly, but they provide views that would otherwise be totally obscured by forest.

A minute after we began hiking, we walked around the locked gate. After perhaps 10-15 minutes we turned right at a fork. The road traversed the right side of a ridge for nearly 3 miles before dropping down slightly to a saddle with a fork, "Point 1005", where we turned right. The road traversed across some clearcuts; then, just before the road re-entered an uncut forest, we turned left and climbed cross-country uphill. The surface was mostly well-compacted branches with occasional exposed dirt. We regained the road just to the left of a quarry, just before a turnoff to the northeasternmost of three 1480' contours. This one was cut bare and definitely lower than the middle contour, which was covered by a sparse stand of trees but the ground was easily visible. We then climbed the middle contour, from which the treetops of the SW contour (the one with the 1505' elevation) were definitely higher; the ground under them was not visible, but guessing the height of the trees it was probably lower. Finally, we visited the SW contour, whose highest ground was E of a grassy turnaround at the end of a road. The treetops on the middle contour appeared higher when viewed from the SE summit than did the treetops of the SW contour when viewed from the middle contour. Based on that comparison, I feel that the middle contour is probably the highest, but I'm not sure enough of that to eliminate the need for peakbaggers to visit the SW contour.

On the descent, we followed a good road downhill to the S to "Point 935", where we turned left and followed the road back to Saddle 1005.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1005 ft / 305 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1005 ft / 305 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:805 ft / 245 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 705 ft / 215 m; Extra: 100 ft / 30m
    Loss on way in:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Start Trailhead:KM Mountain  800 ft / 243 m
    Time:1 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:905 ft / 275 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 705 ft / 215 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Gain on way out:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    End Trailhead:KM Mountain  800 ft / 243 m
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes

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