Getting ThereFrom Conconully (15 miles northeast of Omak, WA) drive 9 miles north on North Fork Road (this road turns into National Forest Road 38) until you reach Salmon Meadows Campground. The road splits off in several spots so be careful. At Salmon Meadows the road will curve to the left in front of the camper area and then it crosses Mutton Creek. Continue for one more mile to the parking area. The trail is marked with an old wooden sign.
Route DescriptionThis approach is a great alternative to the standard Freezeout Ridge Route when snow has yet to melt out in the higher elevations. Why wait until summer when you can climb it in spring? This route starts 1650 feet lower on the mountain than the standard route. From the parkng area (4900 feet) follow an old overgrown road for a few yards and then the trail cuts off to the left. Within minutes it crosses the North Fork Salmon Creek in two bridges. Not far from the crossing the trails splits and is marked again with a deteriorated wooden sign. The left fork leads to Clark Ridge and Clark Peak (7890 feet). The right fork leads Whistler Pass and the summit. After the fork the trail gains the ridge and stays near it's top for the majority of the route.
Sections of the trail may be disrupted by an excess of fallen trees. The Isabel Fire of 2003 burned random parts of the forrest and some of those trees are now falling down. It is not hard to navigate around the fallen trees and regain the trail on the other side. Around 6200 feet the summit becomes visible. At 7200 feet the south slope of the ridge becomes steeper and the trail switches back. Depending on the time of year, it may be necessary to use an ice axe at this point. The route crosses Whistler Pass at 7500 feet and turns onto the south slope leading up to the summit. Beware of cornices near the summit overhanging the northern cliff face. The summit register is lodged under a rusty can on the top of a rusty pole.