Anaconda Peak? Most people have never heard of it, and neither had I until a few years ago. Anaconda is the unofficial name given to the 5050' summit of Gordon Ridge, located about 16 miles east of Granite Falls, WA. I really have no idea where the name comes from, but my theory is that it has something to do with a mining claim or mining company. I have been up there several times, and I promise there are no Anaconda snakes to be seen anywhere. Because Anaconda is so short compared to its neighbors, it often gets overlooked as a viewpoint. Unless you look at it closely, it appears to be a wooded ridge. Conveniently, however, the top few feet of the mountain is free of trees. This makes Anaconda particularly attractive as a winter or spring climb - the avalanche danger is minimal compared to the more alpine peaks surrounding it.
To get to Anaconda, park at the gated road across the Mountain Loop Highway from Red Bridge Campground. After passing the gate, walk the road .3 miles until reaching a logging spur turning off to the right. Walk this spur for about 2.0 miles until the road forks again (elev.2095) - this portion is in fairly good shape for walking. Now for the hard part: Take the right fork, which will deteriorate quickly with washouts and alders. You have two options: 1.Walk this spur for .5 miles, then turn left straight uphill, or 2.Walk the spur to its end in 1.8 miles. Which option you choose will likely depend on snow cover. As you ascend upwards, you are aiming for a point about .3 miles south of the summit at about 4100' (if you chose option 2 you will see flagging guiding the way). In the picture below, look at the ridge coming in from the left. The point at which it abruptly goes from a 10 degree slope to a 45 degree slope is the point you are heading towards.
Update: Based on Redwic's comments, option 1 may be much less desireable than option 2. I have only done option 2 myself, and based option 1 on a report from another party.
From this point, things get steep. Time for the ice axe if snow covered, possibly crampons if icy. Follow the south ridge up too the summit, staying to the left of the crest to avoid any rock steps if necessary. When you reach the summit, please keep a safe distance from the edge until evaluating the cornice condition. The cornices on this mountain can be enormous.
Anaconda Peak cornice - March 2010
Anaconda Peak cornice - May 2011
Once at the top, you will be amazed at just how good the views are from this often overlooked peak.
NE pano on Anaconda Peak
SE pano on Anaconda Peak
Sunrise on Anaconda Peak
Sunset on Anaconda Peak
Follow the Mountain Loop Highway about 18 miles east from Granite Falls. The parking area is across from the Red Bridge Campground, which you will see after crossing (appropriately enough) a red bridge. Please park in such a way that you do not block the gate.
Anaconda Peak route map
Anaconda Peak from Everett Peak
No parking permits are required for this location.
Right across the street! Or pick your own campsite somewhere on the river if picnic tables and bathrooms are too civilized for you. It is possible to overnight on Anaconda peak. When snow covered, it has a giant flat top. In the summer, finding a flat spot large enough for a tent will be more challenging.
"Health is simply the slowest possible rate at which one can die."