Klickitat County Highpoint Trip Report

Dates: October 4 and 25, 2008
Author: David Olson

My experience, Oct. 4th: Eric Noel, G. and I decided to try for two county highpoints Saturday Oct. 4th. After we had a rainy ascent of the highest point of ----n county we decided to go try Indian Rock of Klickitat county anyway. We took the normal route from US hwy. 97, Satus Pass and a 10 mile gravel road. I chose to park just before a fork in the road and and an elevation gain in the road that I did not want to attempt. It was about one mile away from the large HP area. Conditions were spitting rain, diminished visibility and risk of hypothermia.

We hiked along the left fork of the road. After about one mile the road touched the corner of a long meadow. We left the road and hiked the length of the meadow. At its south end we resumed clueless bushwhacking and soon found ourselves at a steep slope downwards. We hiked right, going higher and soon found the Indian Rock BM. We knew there was a rock nearby, but the one of us who had been there before forgot where it was. We wandered for quite a time. G. made the decision to give up on it and head north. G. chose to go left along a track, and seeing something to the left G. led the way to a large rock. We all climbed it and found a surveyors monument on top. This is marked '5819' on the map and we were impressed by it.

I insisted and we set out to visit the northern closed 5820 ft. contour. We bushwhacked for a time, then found an ATV track along a fence. When we got close to the northern closed contour we headed nne to the top. There is a communications facility up there. I think it likely that the 5822 ft. spot elevation is at the building. We touched all the rocks, then traced the ATV track back to the road and the road back to my Sport-Utility-Vehicle. I had car problems on the way home that don't have to be retold here.

After the trip we reread the trip reports about the Klickitat coHP and Indian Rock, paying particular attention to the bits about the rock 500' ene of the Indian Rock BM, south end of the big southern HP area.

My experience, Oct. 25th: I determined to revisit this HP before snow closed it. Others had conflicts, so I went by myself. I went in the same route and had good conditions. I drove about one mile farther than on the 4th. I hiked along the road and soon came to where the road touches the corner of the long meadow. I followed the road, which soon hugged a fence line and headed downhill. I backtracked to the long meadow and then headed south again. I hiked a little to the left of the highest ground in the meadow. At its end I kept on going south, trying to keep a little to the left of the highest ground. I came upon three rocks. I touched the tops of two rocks and judged the third to be lower than #2. Because the ground was dropping to the south I headed east, a nasty bushwhack. I soon came to the south end meadow and was soon standing at the Indian Rock BM. Since I now knew the direction to look I saw the rock just barely higher than the trees in the ene direction. It looked closer than 500 ft. I started pacing in that direction. The rock was soon hidden in the trees and it was then a stumble in that direction, but my final pacing-guess was 510 ft. I examined the rock from all directions. It is easiest to climb from the southeast. It is the third rock I had seen earlier. I had missed its true height because intervening tree trunks blocked a good look at it. For lack of equipment I made only a cursory observation of its height vs. the height at the BM.

I then hiked north, again staying a little to the left of the highest ground. At the north end of the long meadow I bushwhacked in a nnw direction, deliberately looking for the big 5819' rock. I found it and assessed its height vs. the neighboring rocks. I thought of the northern closed 5820' contour, but I had already visited it and chose to skip it.

Route directions: I will presume that you can find Satus Pass on US hwy 97, between Toppenish and Goldendale. At the pass go west on a paved road, which quickly turns to gravel. Generally speaking, take the better and higher road. At about 0.5 miles go left and higher. At about 1.5 miles the road is off the ridge, then switchbacks to the right, north, to get back on the ridge. At about 5 miles the road will go around the left, south, side of Simcoe Butte. You will see a lesser road branching off to the right to go to the top of the Butte. About 1 mile further you will come to a fork whose two choices look about equal. Go left. About 10 miles and getting close to Indian Rock, in the forest, you will come to a short uphill pitch and another fork. Take the left fork. The first time I parked just before this fork. The second time I went about one mile further on the left choice. A mapcheck afterwards showed I parked inside the southern HP 5800' contour.

The above will likely provide enough information to find the Indian Rock BM. Look carefully because it can be easy to miss the rock 500 ft. ene of the BM from the north.

Return to the road at the northeast corner of the long meadow. The ATV track that goes past the big 5819 ft. rock, etc., intersects the road between 0.1 and 0.2 miles to the north of the northeast corner. At the junction it is faint and easy to miss, so you will probably do better starting at the northwest corner of the long meadow and heading nnw about 0.2 miles, looking closely to the west-ish for the big rock. From the big rock head north a short distance. The ATV track should be easy to spot. The ATV track tends to follow the fence and boundary of the Yakima Indian Reservation. Go west a short distance along the ATV track, then turn with it to the nnw, follow it down to the saddle and up to where it crests on the side of the northern HP area. Bushwhack northeast to the top.

My assessment of heights: We have the map's authority that the Indian Rock BM is 5823 ft. above sea-level. The rock 500 ft. ene of the BM stands 10 or more feet high above its base, but its base is lower than the BM by several feet. It requires surveying gear to tell for sure which is higher, the BM or the top of the rock. I spotted no rocks in the southern 5800' closed contour except at its southeast corner and near the 5819' big rock. The northern area has a spot elevation of 5822 ft., which probably is the elevation at the building. There are at least three rocks about the top that are two or three feet high above the ground. If the 500 ft. ene rock surveys 3 or more feet higher than the Indian BM then it likely is highest and the coHPer will not need to visit the northern area. If not, then the coHPer ought to visit both areas. As for the 5819 ft. big rock, is the Survey mark on top of it 5819 ft. high? Maybe the survey report says. In any case visitors should look for it and climb it simply for the fun of it.