Ascent of Gilbert Peak on 2017-07-15

Climber: Daniel Mick

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, July 15, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Gilbert Peak
    Elevation:8184 ft / 2494 m

Ascent Trip Report

NEW ROUTE - and likely the best option available (unless/until Conrad Meadows TH is repaired)! This cuts out most of the misery of the Cispus Basin approach, especially if done early season with snow.

My original plan for Big Horn & Gilbert was a Conrad Meadows approach, however, the road in is gated at (46.5896, -121.2305) due to washout, an addition of 7 miles each way. I did some last minute map consultation and found the Station Three Lake TH (46.5559, -121.3117) which is at 6000' vs Conrad Meadows 4000'. Great roads throughout Rimrock Lake area. Google will take you right there.

I arrived at the TH at 1700. It was swarming with mosquitoes so I was walking around to throw them off while I got ready. I tagged BEar Creek Peak since it was along the way. A nice peak for a new/inexperienced hiker/mountaineer. ~2.5 mile flat approach through forest and alpine meadows. ~1000 feet gain in last quarter mile to summit with some Class 2 scrambling. Lots of space near around the summit for protected camping. The trail is very well established and maintained by the Cascadians. Patchy snow in the NE bowl below the summit. Mostly followed the established trail but took a few shortcuts up snow slopes. Got a bit off-trail and bushwacked the final bit to the summit. There was a pair of women camping on the SW ridge of the summit. I scurried along to get in as many miles as possible for my Big Horn and Gilbert bid.

The ridge section between Bear Creek Peak and Devil's Horn is a fantastic scramble route. Follow the ridge and always stay high and on the South side of the ridge. There is a 'shark's fin' at 46.5210, -121.3503 that involves a <20' 4th class down-climb on the South side to pass a gap. I considered tagging Peak 7090 but figured I would on the way back.

At the saddle East of Devil's Horn (46.5167, -121.3614) GO LOW. The high traverse quickly turns into the possibly the worst rock conditions I've ever been on - rocky slabs with lots of marbley scree that I was certain I was going to slide out of control on. After gingerly picking my way along I descended to tree patches where the conditions were much better, plus, I found a goat trail so long and so well-established that I'm certain it used to be an old hiking/logging trail. It goes all the way from below Devil's Horn to the meadows below Tieton Peak.

At dusk, I was privileged to witness a herd of elk thunder across a snowfield spraying snow behind them. I chose a spot amongst the meadows next to a small stream as the sun set, filtered water, ate dinner, and camped open-air.

I woke ~0430 and was hiking before sunrise. Traverse above the Conrad glacier to the obvious saddle below the cliffs. (An alternative route could hit the saddle between Conrad and Meade glaciers and spiral clockwise up to Gilbert). Traverse West of the cliffs to the Northern snow chute. It is Northern and protected on both sides so likely maintains snow late into the Summer. A couple thin crevasses bisect the 30-35d slope which I easily passed through the middle of. A small scree lip is at the top.

On the ridge, easily traverse immediately below Goat Citadel on the South side. Stay high on the ridge until a short cliff before the saddle before Big Horn. A single 20' foot rappel here as I did would save a ton of time a stress compared to finding a scramble descent route - the ridge is significantly more solid than any of the kitty litter slopes just below. Traverse the increasingly steep snow to the summit block. There was still a ~50d snow finger up the ascent chute which made life sooo much easier compared to other trip reports!

Ascend a short slabby section to a ledge at the base of the ~15' summit crack. I "aid" climbed it with two link cams. I rate the 2nd move a 5.2 and the rest 4th class.

I made a couple short rappels back to the snow slope. With partners and a longer rope, the best option would be to rappel all the way down to the that you don't die like I almost did. =/ Rather than facing-in and self-belaying I was facing-out and descending in my existing tracks. I don't remember much, and it all happened in seconds, but I slipped, and at 50d I was immediately going too fast to self-arrest. My only option to not plunge off the snow and over the lower cliffs was to aim for the moat against the rocks. I slammed hard into the rocks at waist level and lost my ice axe somewhere in the moat or down the slope. I gathered myself and checked myself and found my thigh and thumb were bleeding profusely (semi-superficial thigh cuts like a tiger attack, and crushed thumbnail), and that my genitals barely escaped destruction. I scrabbled out, wrapped my thigh, took some meds, and had a break to calm and regroup. Without major injuries I knew my best option was to self-extract.

I descended to a less steep section of the snow traverse since I only had crampons and one pole, and was quite jittered. I didn't want to have to return so tagged Gilbert as well which is a gentle ridge hike and 3rd or 4th class scramble options to the summit.

I followed almost the exact same route out, going low below Devil's Horn linking tree islands and rock outcrops. Just below Peak 7090 I failed to stay high and tried to traverse which quickly turned into a frightening foot-wide cliffed-out impassible traverse I had to backtrack on. On the ridge I saw I just needed to go behind some trees to stay high. I followed the trail all the way out without further incident.

1/1 ACCESS - Good roads and Google takes you right to the TH
2/2 REMOTENESS (Popularity, Sight/Sound) - I can't imagine more than a couple parties a year on this route
1/1 CONDITION - the ridge to Gilbert is nice and easy, unlike the Big Horn section
3/3 VARIETY (Flora and Fauna, Geological, Terrain) - a little bit of everything!
3/3 VIEWS - halfway between Rainier and Adams
TOTAL 10/10
(does not include difficulty since hikers may prefer opposite extremes)

Ultimate OR & WA Lists: CoHP, CoPP, Top e100, Top p100

Ultimate US List: HP, PP, Iso, 2ndLap
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6000 ft / 1828 m
    Round-Trip Distance:18 mi / 29 km
    Route:Klickton Ridge Traverse
    Trailhead:Station Three Lake TH   2184 ft / 665 m
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Days 
Ascent Part of Trip: Big Horn-Gilbert (1 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Bear Creek Mountain2017-07-14 a1312 ft / 400 m
2Big Horn2017-07-15 b6000 ft / 1829 m
3Gilbert Peak2017-07-15 c6000 ft / 1829 m
Total Trip Gain: 13312 ft / 4058 m    Total Trip Loss: 13312 ft / 4058 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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