Grays Harbor County High Point Trip Report

Date: June 1, 2003
Authors: Bob Bolton, Dean Molen, Duane Gilliland

We camped near the Copper Creek washout and got an early start, hoping for good firm snow on the upper portions of the peak, which there was. While studying the peak from the northwest we decided to avoid John Roper's route and attempt Jeff Howbert's ascent route instead, even though he discourages it in his report. We could see a ridge leading up into the forest from near the end of the spur on the west side of the peak. There seemed to be a relatively low-angle ramp just below the cliffs, and with the snow we hoped to avoid what Jeff called a "tedious thread through boulder fields and across slimy slabs". From the end of the spur, getting up onto the ridge was not too bad at this time of year because the foliage on the devils club and other brush was still not developed. Once achieving the forest, the brush diminished to an easy density, but there were many down logs and other obstacles, as expected. We ascended in a generally easterly direction, always looking for the lowest angle. The lowest angle "ramp" can easily be seen on the topo map. Just below the cliffs we started to encounter significant snow, and the quantity quickly increased as we approached the more open areas on the north side of the peak's west ridge. The snow was in perfect condition, which greatly facilitated the climb by allowing us to avoid the boulder fields that Jeff lamented. We continued east and stayed with the lowest angle snow until just north of the summit ridge. Our first objective was Point 4949, just inside of neighboring Mason County. A fairly steep snow ascent brought us to the ridge line west of the peak, and we scrambled up with no trouble.

We located the summit register, only to discover that the spiral notepad was soaked and unusable, even though the lid was screwed on so tight that it took two of us to remove it. After enjoying the views, we dropped down off the peak as we had ascended, then traversed west to the HP area. We had taken a GPS reading for the county line from so we could be quite confident of being inside of Grays Harbor. We ascended snow to the ridge near what appeared to be the highest point just west of the county line. After scrambling up onto the peak we discovered a slightly higher point with a cairn just to our east. Dean hadn't climbed to the incorrect perch, so he went over to the cairn and discovered Bob Packard's summit register. Not being certain where the county line was, we then decided to climb the ridge toward the next peak to the east until we were confident of being inside Mason County. This ridge quite quickly became higher than the point with the cairn, but without knowing exactly where the line was it seemed prudent to do this. We believe the peak we approached is the 4920+ contour just east of the county line. On the map it does appear that the 4880 contour coming from the east stops just short of the county line, so we believe that Packard's point was the true HP.

We had left hot pink ribbons on our route, and the descent back to the road was uneventful except that we ended up descending farther down the ridge, then traversing back to the spur from the southwest.

If there's adequate snow in the forest, this route works quite well as it takes advantage of the lowest angle terrain on the hill while not dealing with the nasty boulder fields that would be a problem without the snow. We all agree that we're happy to have this one behind us!