Ascent of Steptoe Butte on 2013-04-23

Climber: Richard Hensley

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Steptoe Butte
    Elevation:3612 ft / 1100 m

Ascent Trip Report

Parked at the lower picnic area. Followed the road up about 900 ft to a fence opening on the left. There's a sign saying "ask permission before hunting, fishing, etc." but otherwise allowing access. A trail eases the way southwest through 100 ft of tall brush (no thorns.) Exiting the brush, went around a tree cluster, then headed northwest back toward the fence. As expected, there are occasional faint animal trails along the fenceline west. Several briar bushes pushed me away from the fence, but never more than 20 ft. Had to work a little around a few trees in the forest on the north slope. Just glad I didn't meet the moose cow and calf I saw earlier walking north on the east slope. Coming out of the trees, I stayed along the fence until it started descending west. I was now passed all the shrub and brush next to the woods. At this point, I aimed a route uphill toward a utility pole next to the first road crossing. I knew there was a nice opening on the roadbank just right of this pole.
I walked 150 ft southwest on the road for a good place to get uphill again. I first angled back to the left, then realized there was less brush back to the right. Basically went straight up, again heading for a utility pole next to the second road crossing. Lest I think I was the only one to try this route, I found an old pair of sunglasses a good 200 ft below the next road. The slope got very steep halfway up. I again gained the road just right of the utility pole.
Walked left to a weakness in the roadcut just beyond the next pole. Not quite a scramble needed to get up the cut. Above the cut, a good trail led right to the summit.
Great views all around, from the Blue Mtns south to Mt Spokane north, and snowcapped ranges to the east in Idaho. I especially liked looking down on the Palouse Hills, with just enough shadows to set them apart.
Tried to stay on the same route back. About 100 yds from the road at the bottom, there's a large opening in the fence leading to a small muddy pond. You could hear the numerous frogs all the way up at the top. I rarely hear frogs anymore, even in places where they used to be reported as numerous. They fell silent and disappeared as soon as I turned toward the pond. All I could see were some tadpoles and water boatmen. Good to know there are still some frogs thriving somewhere.
Tour de Palouse 2 for 5, both state parks.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:942 ft / 286 m
    Total Elevation Loss:942 ft / 286 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1.8 mi / 2.9 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:937 ft / 285 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 932 ft / 284 m; Extra: 5 ft / 1m
    Loss on way in:5 ft / 1 m
    Distance:0.9 mi / 1.5 km
    Route:E-W fenceline, N slope
    Start Trailhead:lower picnic area  2680 ft / 816 m
    Time:41 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:937 ft / 285 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 932 ft / 284 m; Extra: 5 ft / 1m
    Gain on way out:5 ft / 1 m
    Distance:0.9 mi / 1.5 km
    Route:N slope, E-W fenceline
    End Trailhead:lower picnic area  2680 ft / 816 m
    Time:38 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Richard Hensley
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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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