Ascent of West Onion Peak on 2015-01-19

Climber: James Barlow

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, January 19, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:West Onion Peak
    Elevation:3076 ft / 937 m

Ascent Trip Report

Sea Level Ascent. I parked at the Hug Point State Park parking lot. I prepped all of my gear and then walked down to the beach to touch the water so that I could have a true sea level to summit ascent. Luckily for me it was high tide, saving me nearly 5 vertical feet of sandy uphill gain! Naturally, as I walked down to the beach, it began to rain intensely and even hail a bit. What a great weekend this was turning out to be! I retreated to the car in the parking lot to pull my mountain bike down (and pointlessly dry the seat!). I was quickly on my way as the shower subsided. I rode along Hwy 101 to the dirt road that heads up to West Onion. As this was MLK Day, there was no logging traffic. Official recreation hours on weekdays are 4:30pm-9pm. Weekends is 6am-9pm. I consider MLK Day a weekend. I also completely didn't notice that bicycles were not allowed until I had returned. What I shame that I totally missed that rule (wink, wink)...

The road up was in great shape and there was never a portion of the road that required me to push the bike, though I spent a decent amount of time granny gearing it up on the steeper sections. I reached the point where the old (very overgrown) road heads left from the main road. If you know where to look, you can't miss it. The road grade is obvious from below. I passed it and went to the creek beyond it just to ensure that I got to the right place. I retraced my tire tread marks back to the overgrown grade. I dragged my bike up it a bit until I found a place to stash it out of sight.

From there, I continued on foot, cutting a switchback on the way up through the very open forest. As it turns out, making this shortcut was better than following the old roadbed. Once I regained the upper road bed, going was easy to a very large clear area. I scrambled up through weaknesses in the boulders and followed deer trails and just plain bushwhacking up to the summit. In a rare instance of foresight, I put my rain pants on in the clearing and made a relatively dry ascent to the summit. However, the bushwhacking served to soak me to the bone through my legs and hands anyway. My newer, nicer jacket held up remarkably. I took the usual summit photos. There is some old junk on the summit, so there was clearly a trail up here at some point in the past.

The descent served to soak me more. Right as I reached the clearing, the sky opened up again, this time with hail! Hooray! I was worried that my legs and hands were not quite as wet as they would be if I was in a shower, so this really was the icing on the cake. Once I was in the trees again for a while, I added a midlayer under my jacket. Putting my soggy gloves back on my icy hands was quite enjoyable. I soon reached my bike and walked it back down to the main road. I began the ride out which starts with a very minor uphill stretch (~100 vertical ft). Once I crested this point, it was all downhill. Normally this would be a good thing. My hands were still somewhat capable of gripping the handlebars, though I lost feeling in my thumbs for a bit. Right after I began biking, the sun came out in all of its glory! Additionally, since it was not sunny on the ascent, I had no sunglasses. The mud, dirt, and water flung up by my tires decided to go straight into my eyes as often as it could. I decided that a little impaired vision was better than my hands freezing off, so down I went squinting and using 1 eye at a time. Certainly the safest way to descend a mountain on a mountain bike, right?! It was a fine descent and I stopped being a little bitch about my cold hands not long after the thrill of the downhill took over! There was a pickup truck at the dirt road intersection with Hwy 101, so I did not linger. I then rode up and then down Hwy 101 back to my car. 1 hour after leaving the summit, I was at my car, which included the walk time back to the bike. When I arrived at the parking lot, the wind had dried my jacket a bit, but not the rest of me. A family parked next to me gave me that look that only fellow peakbaggers know when you drop into their world in all of your muddy, filthy, wet glory. They headed to the beach and I once again did a full clothing change in the parking lot, putting on my last pair of dry pants and last pair of dry shoes.

Of note, Eric Kassan's trip report and the map that I printed with his GPS track overlaid, was incredibly helpful. I encountered no navigation issues on this ascent. Had it been dry, it would have been a bit nicer... Overall, West Onion was a pretty darn good peak for a logging country dumpster. The road is much easier to bike up than I had expected, not too steep. The ride down is amazing! Bring a bike! Sea level to summit!!


13.6 mi
31.3 mph max speed
4.7 avg moving speed
3 hrs 50 min car-to-car
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3276 ft / 998 m
    Extra Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Route:Logging Roads
    Trailhead:0 ft / 0 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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