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Ascent of Buckhorn Mountain on 2017-09-23

Climber: Connor McEntee

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, September 23, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Buckhorn Mountain
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:5602 ft / 1707 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is one that I was disappointed to not have any recent beta on. I wasn't even really sure which roads to take to even get close to it.

For starters, the mine is still in active operation. The old topo maps indicate that Buckhorn is on USFS land, most all of the land in the area is private though. Additionally, the mine has fenced off the summit and posted against trespassing. Whether they outright own it or just have mineral rights, I don't know. Either way it probably doesn't matter, because de facto they control it. Furthermore, I would recommend not attempting this peak during a weekday. I arrived on a Saturday and there was sufficient activity that I would think any peakbaggers would be in the way when even more machinery is in operation.

There are two good roads to get in the vicinity. I approached via NF-3550. I was expecting a minor forest service road, but it turns out that this is now the haul road for the mine. It is wide, well graded, and goes straight to the mine entrance. The mine had rerouted portions of it, so it doesn't quite match the old road on the topo. However, by all signs it appears to still be open for public access up until the gated mine entrance. Signs at the gate indicate that there is an office just beyond where all visitors must check in. It might be possible to get permission there.

The other way to get to the area is via Pontiac Ridge Road and Cow Camp Road. Those roads are in great shape and may be better, because you won't interfere at all with mine operations. Cow Camp Road crosses the haul road at a major intersection about a mile south of the mine entrance. Very close to that intersection is an occupied ranch house, which Cow Camp Road runs runs directly in front of. There is also a minor road marked as NF-140 on the topo map. I never drove on it, but it appears that it goes all the way to the posted mine boundary where there is a gate just south east of the summit. That might not be a bad place to park for future visitors, who would like to visit the ridge.

I parked in a turnout on Cow Camp Road between the intersection and the ranch house. Technically, this is probably on private land, but the forest service boundary was only a couple hundred feet away, so I doubted anyone would bother me. I then decided to explore the public lands extending up to the ridge. Cows have open range through the forest, so it was a pretty mild bushwhack as I followed cow trails up. About 3/4 of the way up, I encountered a barbed wire fence, which must mark the boundary for the grazing rights. There were no signs indicating otherwise. I imagine that it was only about a quarter mile further to the summit which houses some antennae, but otherwise has nothing else there and due to the trees not much of a view.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1032 ft / 314 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1032 ft / 314 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.1 mi / 3.4 km
    Route Conditions:
Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1032 ft / 314 m
    Distance:1.1 mi / 1.8 km
    Start Trailhead:Cow Camp Road  4570 ft / 1392 m
    Time:32 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1032 ft / 314 m
    Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    End Trailhead:Cow Camp Road  4570 ft / 1392 m
    Time:27 Minutes



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