Skamania County Highpoint Trip Report
Date: August 31, 2005
Trip to this county's highest point was
posted on summitpost
by Paul Klenke.
Nevertheless I have some additional details to note here.
1. I did not find a neat junction between trail 64 (Riley Camp trail) and the PCT.
I ended up going cross-country (which is not terribly difficult given the terrain)
for about 3/4 mile.
2. I do not recommend bikes. Wilderness area begins about one mile into the
hike and then you will be illegal with a bike.
3. The place where the county line crosses the west "ridge" is not clear but
the highest ground on the ridge is almost always clear. Just stick to the ridge
and climb through the 8920-foot contour; you will have reached the high ground.
I chose to continue up the west "ridge" to the summit. Rather than a ridge,
I would refer to the upper section of this route as a cleaver. The uppermost part
of the rock towers high above the scree slope on the south and the glacier on
the north. Because of the tremendously unstable nature of the rock and its
tendency to constantly rain down chunks on the slopes below, I highly recommend
staying on top of the cleaver. There is definitely some class 4 climbing near
the top of the cleaver. Finally, the cleaver fades away just below the Pinnacle.
This is where the real fun begins.
The Pinnacle is constantly coming apart and throwing down various sizes of
volcanic debris. I sat at the top of the cleaver and observed for 15-20 minutes
and there was never really a break of more than 60 seconds in the rock fall.
I did note that the majority of it came from the north side of the Pinnacle and
stayed to the north side of the cleaver. However, occasional pieces would bound
over the top of the cleaver and make their way down the south side.
Also, an occasional piece would break off of the south side of the Pinnacle.
It was an interesting sensory experience -- especially when one of those pieces went
within 20 yards at extremely high rates of speed. So, I could clearly see that
exposure to the rock-fall was inevitable if I chose to continue.
I DID finally continue, very rapidly making my way up and around to the south
side of the Pinnacle, briefly near the edge of Blue Salmon Glacier and up to the
ridgeline once again. This higher section of the Pinnacle is calmer. There is
permanent snow on the north side, so I attached my crampons and kept them on to
the summit and back to this point. From the top of the Pinnacle, I traversed
across upper Adams Glacier (lots of sun cup action here), crossed below the
summit cornice and around by the wooden lodge or shelter, then over to the
I met a young man named Alex at the top and took his picture for him. He had
come up the standard route and was in a hurry to get back down. I also felt the
necessity of getting down past the rock fall area and the top of the cleaver,
so I did not stay long. I made it back down in good time.
Approximate timeframe for the day:
5:45 am -- left trailhead
Author: Dale Millsap
9:30 am -- reached 8920 contour and HP of Skamania County
12:00 pm -- reached top of cleaver
2:00 pm -- reached summit
2:30 pm -- left summit
7:30 pm -- back to trailhead
Summary: About 14 hours duration with 18-20 miles round trip.