Ascent of Silvertip Mountain on 2016-09-10

Climber: Connor McEntee

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, September 10, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Silvertip Mountain
    Location:Canada-British Columbia
    Elevation:8517 ft / 2595 m

Ascent Trip Report

The Silver-Skagit road is very well graded and the long approach to the trailhead from CA-3 is quite easy. The turnoff to the de facto trailhead is easy to miss. As other have indicated there is an immediate dip that requires some clearance, but all disambiguated it from other roads. It's getting slightly overgrown, and branches could scratch your car. The end of the road also appears to be a popular location for Canadians to drink and shoot guns. Much trash, spent casings, broken bottles, etc were found at the "trailhead." Anyway, I spent the night in my car ready to get an early start the next morning.

I woke up and discovered it had rained a bit. The clouds looked iffy, but the forecast was supposed to be good. I decided to go for it and see how far I'd get. The first section through the slash up to the "dirty rock step" sucks (it's much worse coming down). It's both quite steep, littered with branches that are just waiting to move, and the dirt/rocks are loose. It takes effort to make sure that each foot placement is stable. However, the flagging for the entire bushwhack is quite excellent! After several hundred vertical feet of climbing, the climbers trail exists the drainage suddenly to the left and puts you at the "dirty rock step." There is a rope, it's at the end of it's life though. It's more helpful for coming down (especially when you're tired), but is unnecessary if you're careful and use any available branches and roots.

The gradient lightens up a bit, and the climbers trail disappears. For the remainder of the ascent those two things are linked, in steeper sections the trail becomes quite obvious (presumably everyone goes the same way across more difficult terrain). I couldn't always see the next flag, but whenever I'd loose the trail it was never too difficult to find it again by meandering back and forth.

After quite a bit of vertical climbing, the flagging stops when the trail reaches a meadow-ed ridge terminating in significant cliffs. From this point there is a very faint path that sidehills to the east around the cliffs to meadows leading up to the summit ridge. The grass was already wet from the night before, making it more slippery. However, there is so much grass and it is well rooted that sidehilling was manageable. Almost the entire traverse can be done above comfortable runouts if one were to take a significant slip.

When I started the weather marginal, it was now getting worse and proceeded to rain lightly. Visibility was ok across the valley and south into Washington. I could see Spickard clearly, though a large cloud was sitting on the summit. There was also a significant cloud obscuring the summit of Silvertip. Classic North Cascade weather. I pressed on, passing the creek and took a more western path to the summit ridge where I could see that there was heather all the way up allowing me to avoid scree. From there I followed the ridge over the false summit to peak. GPS came in quite helpful since I never had more than 50ft of visibility.

I didn't stay long on the summit (ironically, the clouds would be gone within 30 minutes of me leaving the summit and the weather totally transformed). I did eventually find the summit register which was quite a ways down the side of the eastern slope. Since I am quite likely the last summit-er this year, it would have been taken away by the snow had I not found it. To anyone reading this, it might be worth considering bringing a better register to replace the awkward amber plastic bottle that's currently there.

The descent was much better. The weather cleared up giving great views of Washington's North Cascades. The bushwhack wasn't too bad, but there are sections that require some care to avoid slipping. The final section below the step back to the "trailhead" is terrible on the descent. The hillside is basically scree, but there is so much crap covering the hillside that it is tedious to descend. I slipped several times.

Overall, a great peak well worth climbing.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6672 ft / 2033 m
    Total Elevation Loss:6672 ft / 2033 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.4 mi / 11.9 km
    Grade/Class:YDS 3
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Raining, Cold, Windy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:6550 ft / 1996 m
    Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    Route:Southwest Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Silver-Skagit Rd  1967 ft / 599 m
    Time:3 Hours 33 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:6672 ft / 2033 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 6550 ft / 1996 m; Extra: 122 ft / 37m
    Gain on way out:122 ft / 37 m
    Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    Route:Southwest Ridge
    End Trailhead:Silver-Skagit Rd  1967 ft / 599 m
    Time:2 Hours 49 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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