Ascent of French Cabin Mountain on 2009-08-23

Climber: Jan Peter Eklund

Others in Party:Emma
Date:Sunday, August 23, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:French Cabin Mountain
    Elevation:5724 ft / 1744 m

Ascent Trip Report

This trip report incorporates all four peaks bagged on the French Cabin Mtn Trek.
Drove up from 90 through Roslyn, past Cle Elum Lk and turned west onto rd 4308, followed it up into Fr Cabin Basin & trail 1305 TH. Started up 1305 to hook up with the Kachess Ridge tr # 1315.
I'd been up Thorp Mtn in 2008 and was intrigued by French Cabin Basin/Mtn right next door. I also wanted to string together a series of peaks in one trip, so settled on the three "named" French Cabin Mtn peaks: this one (aka "West" peak), South & North. I'd planned on a loop with N. peak at the end, but wasn't sure how to get back down to the TH. The map showed some roads, and I could see at least one, so thought I'd just play it by ear.
Strapped on the backpack & started up the trail, on the way up I saw a few hunters - apparently it was bear season. Chatted a bit with one guy & mentioned I was going to try for some of the peaks and was wondering about getting back down from N. peak. He said "oh you can come down any of those clearcuts over there". Great, I thought. The topography in the basin is pretty spectacular:
Fr Cabin Mtn, along with French Tongue and the unnamed peak I've dubbed "French Chin" (since it's adjacent to Fr Tongue & lower)define the S & W sides of Fr Cabin Basin with craggy, steep, bare rock faces. After hooking up with 1315 I headed south, dropping a bit, then climbing up into the pass between French Tongue & Chin. Lots of blueberries all over the place - delicious. As we headed south from the pass, the trees opened up to a beautiful broad, flat meadow with Kachess Ridge to the west. We pitched the tent and relaxed before setting up the bear bag & eating dinner. Though there was great star viewing (with occasional clouds blowing through), the night cooled down pretty quickly and there was a heavy dew, so we hit the tent. Sunday morning got up and scrambled up Fr Chin before breakfast. Great view up there, the drop off on the north is vertigo inspiring. Headed down and hung the fly to dry in the sun, brewed tea, ate & packed up. On the way south along the meadow chatted with a New Zealand(?) fellow named Bill who was in the middle of an 11 day trek, who informed us of water @ 1 mile south. Crossed Silver Creek and filled up with water, saw a frog in the creek. Took tr 1308.1 east skirting along the south side of Fr Cabin Mtn (W pk). Where the trail reached max elev on a promontory, we stashed the pack and started for the summit. There is a knife edge ridge running N towards the summit, which we stayed on the west side of, climbing through a few exposed rocky scrambles. Towards the top the west slope is open & grassy. The peak has a few clumps of trees and scrub along with exposed craggy rock and some nice comfortable sheltered spots to take in the view. Took photos and headed back down the same route to the pack stash. After a snack we headed east, descending into a creek drainage, then up along the south face of the connecting ridge. Nice walking, alternating between forest, scrub, open grassy slopes, & occasional scree. The trail is faint in places, but possible to follow. Lots of blueberries along the way. There is another unnamed peak (5563') along the way to the South Peak, which I thought might be S peak (it wasn't), and so popped over to check it out. It looked like there was another higher point right nearby, but on the other side of a small gully, so I didn't head over to snag it, choosing to keep on track and conserve some energy. We headed across a connecting saddle and hooked up with tr 1308 & not much later the not very impressive S. Peak summit, which is a small hillock surrounded by trees just off the trail. That was peak 3 for the day with just N. peak left. Heading north along tr 1308 up and down saddles was not too bad, but I was starting to wonder if my plan to bushwack down into Fr Cabin basin was a good one, since it looked pretty steep, though treed the whole way. Pushed on and met up with the base of a grassy slope that headed up to the N. peak. Stopped to hydrate & snack, then charged up to snag the summit. After a brief stay, we got back to the pack & headed back to the lowest part of the saddle connecting N & S peaks, where the clearcut I'd been eyeballing was visible. Bushwacking down the clearcut was steep but manageable, pretty rough & choked with logs in places & scrubby alder thickets in others. I had put a blaze orange triangle on the dog, and was clapping, whistling and singing in the more overgrown areas, just in case. We finally hooked up with one of the roads shown on the map, and headed south to cross over the valley to another unconnected road on the west side. After bushwacking over to the other side, headed into a maze of fire roads which left me wondering if I was heading in the right direction more than once. After some trial and error, made it back to the car - just where I left it (it started too!). Thoroughly beat, satisfied, banged up (and only slightly irritated), we headed out. I'm glad to have snagged all the peaks, but Fr Chin & Fr Cabin Mtn were definitely the two nicer ones. I'd call the trek a qualified success. I'd definitely head back to that nice meadow.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1084 ft / 330 m
    Trailhead:4640 ft / 1414 m
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Part of Trip: French Cabin Mtn

Complete Trip Sequence:
1French Chin2009-08-23 a1480 ft / 451 m
2French Cabin Mountain2009-08-23 b1084 ft / 330 m
3French Cabin Mountain-South Peak2009-08-23 c200 ft / 61 m
4French Cabin Mountain-North Peak2009-08-23 d338 ft / 103 m
Total Trip Gain: 3102 ft / 945 m    Total Trip Loss: 3102 ft / 945 m

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