Snohomish County Highpoint Trip Report

Glacier Peak (10,541 feet) via a new approach

Date: July 2009
Author: Charlie Winger

note: All UTM's are zone 10U and NAD83/WGS84 datum.

The approach information for Glacier Peak which follows was given to us by John Stolk when we tried the peak in August 2008. That attempt was aborted due to four days of fog, rain and snow. We never even saw the peak.

In July 2009 our group of five Colorado climbers drove to Washington for another attempt on what was to be Charlie Winger's final 5K CONUS Ultra Prominence Peak.

Our group consisted of Jean Aschenbrenner, Dan Blake, Meredith Lazaroff, Dan Stright and Charlie Winger. Incidentially, Jean Aschenbrenner was the first woman to successfully climb all of the 637 Colorado peaks over 13,000 feet!

We met in Wenatchee, WA and proceeded to drive to the trailhead by taking US 2 and US 97 northwest toward Leavenworth. US 97 splits off prior to arriving in Leavenworth so continue on US 2. Follow US 2 to Coles Corner where you turn right on to WA 207, the turnoff for Lake Wenatchee. We followed the paved road around and along the north end of the lake. About a mile beyond the lake we made a left turn on to an unpaved forest road and followed it up the Little Wenatchee River to the end of the road. There is a large U-shaped gravel parking area at this point (UTM 642874 E, 5308857 N). If you're not in the U-shaped parking area I've got you lost. Be advised that they may require one of the National Forest parking passes for this area. We noticed an Iron Ranger at the trailhead. Your Golden Age or other Park pass may work.

This is an excellent trail and all junctions are well signed. There are no streams you will need to wade across. Basically just keep heading uphill and follow the signs to White Pass. Water is available at many places along the trail so you should be able to go with just a liter and keep refilling it as you hike.

Note: A portion of this trail above the switchbacks was rerouted last year and now traverses high up along the ridge - a decided improvement.

The trail leaves the parking area at the end of the U-shaped lot. The trail is initially followed through head high weeds (which you'll hate, especially if they're wet) and finally enters the forest. Once the weeds are behind you the trail climbs and switchbacks up the mountain to a junction with the trail coming in from your left and going to Indian Pass which is to your right (UTM 639151 E, 5316245 N).

At Indian Pass you you reach a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Turn left and follow the PCT to a spot just before where the North Fork trail intersects with the PCT. This is a signed junction point to "camp" and "toilet". The sign may be lying on the ground. It is about 13 miles and 3,700 feet of gain to this campsite. If you reach the junction with the North Fork Sauk Trail (UTM 637309 E, 5321995 N) you've gone a few hundred meters to far.

At this point (UTM 637998 E, 5321734 N) there is an established camping area a couple of hundred meters down hill complete with a pit toilet, which has one the best views you'll ever have from a toilet. There is an established trail that heads down to the campsites.

We took Adam Helman's advice and decided to climb the peak in a four day scenario (he did it in three days and cites an inordinately long summit day as a result). This worked out nicely as we're old and were planning to do Goode Mountain next. We camped here the first night.

The next day we followed the PCT for a short distance and turned right to follow the climbers trail which is well defined and traverses along below the ridge. The climbers trail begins past the point where the North Fork Sauk Trail intersects the PCT. The climbers trail had a "trail closed" sign on it but I think that is so the PCT folks don't take it by mistake. The trail is a perfectly good trail. Go figure.

From this point on the route to the next camp and summit have been adequately described by others.