Okay, you must be asking yourself about why I would be writing about a peak with only 321 feet of prominence and is named after its slightly higher and dramatically more prominent parent summit. Well if you are a peakbagger and in are in the area I think you will agree that this summit is well worth a visit. There are endless reasons to visit this summit. First the views here are more dramatic that the slightly larger Bearhead Mountain. That is because this mountains true summit rocks are completely devoid of trees giving a 360 panorama. On a clear day the views of neighboring Bearhead Mountain along with many of the other Irish Cabin peaks can only be mentioned as stellar. Unfortunately I was only able to get some of the views from this summit. Rainier from this summit though stands out above all the rest as it rises dramatically higher than any other peak in the area.
Views are not the only reason to visit this peak. More than likely you will be the person/ group of people on the summit. Once you get off the faintly used Carbon River Trail down below you will be bushwacking and scrambling up this mountain to the true summit. In reality the scramble here is Class 2+ and if dry this mountain presents little difficult. If wet though conditions can be a little more iffy and caution must be used. On the way up my partner and basically went up a grassly field all the way to the foot of the scramble. You can attempt to do the Bearhead to Bearhead-East Peak as there is a footpath part of the way to the traverse. Unfortunately that footpath disappears on the higher part of the ridge and quickly turns into Class 3+ exposed terrain which is not recommended during in wet or icy conditions.
Getting ThereVIA THE SUMMIT LAKE TRAILHEAD: Pickup Hwy 165 in Buckley from Hghway 410. Stay on the road past the towns of Wilkerson and Carbonado and over the classic narrow Fairfax Bridge. Make a left at the "Y" intersection which has a sign pointing out the Carbon River Entrance. Roughly 7.5 miles, make a left on an unmarked road to a long bridge. Pay attention because most people pass this road the first time in the area. Once it crosses a bridge it will run into another T so make a right there. Take this bumpy road almost 7 miles to the end. From there you will pick up the Summit Lake Trailhead. The road is bumpy and though regular cars can drive this road, high clearance vehicles are recommended.
This section will describe the easier route up Bearhead Mountain East Peak. Take the route as you would going up Bearhead Mountain. From there you will want to take the very faint and lightly used Carbon River Trail for roughly 2 miles until it intersect runs up to a prominent ridgeline that leads to Bearhead Mountain. From there head straight up this ridgeline. If you head to the right you will deal with a 40 degree grassy field. If you head straight up you will deal with some slippery scree that is also 40 degrees or a potential Class 3 rock scramble. The final scramble to the true summit from anyway you head up here is Class 2 to 2+ max.
If you plan on following the ridge from Bearhead Mountain except much more of a challenge. Expect Class 3+ or higher conditions lots of exposure. It does start off mellow coming of Bearhead Mountain but the route once it leaves the main ridge quickly becomes either a hefty scramble. We were in wet conditions so we declined continuing with this route and decided the other route instead.
Essential GearIn summer just typical hiking gear is needed. A helmet is optional here and from I saw it was really not necessary.
In spring when the snow is around you will clearly need an ice axe to reach this summit. The easiest route up contains 40 degree slopes which would require an ice axe. You might want to bring crampons or traction devices depending on the type of snow conditions that persist on this mountain.
CampingThere are plenty of places to camp in this region. My suggestion would be to camp around Twin Lake or Summit Lake. There is also the summit area of Bearhead Mountain as well. The actual summit of Bearhead Mountain-East Peak is quiet rocky and would make for a very uncomfortable bivy.
Red TapeNorthwest Forest Pass is required at the trailhead. THere are no other permits for the region.
External LinksThis is an excellent page on Bearhead Mountain by Eric Willhite
Bearhead Mountain-East Peak Peakbagger Page