OverviewEast Wilmans Spire is impressive. Both Nelson and Beckey call the peak "spectacular". The spire towers 2000 feet above Glacier Basin which is a beautiful part of the Cascades. East Wilmans is located above the historic mining town of Monte Cristo. Part of the fun of this peak is going through the old mining town. It takes a little imagination to get the feel of what this town must have looked like. Since the peak is fairly accessible it is becoming much more popular as a climb. The first ascent was made by Fred Beckey and Herb Staley, August 1945. All routes to the summit are fifth class with the Beckey-Staley route being grade III; 5.4. For a good trip report with excellent photos click here.
Getting ThereThe East Wilmans Spire trailhead is off Barlow pass about 45 miles east of Marysville. You can take US 2 from Everett to Hwy 9 then to State Route 92. I think it is faster to go to Marysville then take 528 east to Hwy 9 and then to State Route 92. Either way the key is to go to Granite Falls. When you get to the end of town you will take a left past the high school onto the Mountain Loop Highway towards Verlot. At Verlot you can purchase a parking pass if you don't already have one. Also the people working at the Public Service Center have a nice map and short pamphlet about the history of the town. From Verlot the trailhead is about 20 miles at the gated Monte Cristo Road. There is a large parking lot with toilets. Car prowlers are known to frequent this area so beware.
Both the Glacier Basin Trail and '76 Creek trail ascend from the old mining town of Monte Cristo. The road to Monte Cristo is no longer open to cars since the flood in December of 1980. The closed road has added just over 4 miles to the hike. Many people now mountain bike this slightly uphill section (about 400 ft of elevation gain) and lock their bikes at the trailhead bike rack. Cross over the Sauk River on a footbridge towards Monte Cristo.
Red TapeCurrently backcountry permits are not required to hike or camp in the Monte Cristo area. For information go to the Verlot Public Service Center which is part of the Darrington Ranger District. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at Barlow Pass.
When To ClimbThe climbing season is typically from May to October. However the conditions do impact the nature of climb if one is planning on the Beckey-Staley route. Like any alpine climb the amount of snow in the approach gully can significantly effect the route. Later in the season when there is less snow in the gully the loose rock is exposed making getting to the base of the climb more unpleasent.
CampingCamping is allowed and Glacier Basin would be a beautiful spot to spend a night if one had the time. There is ample water from the creek and suitable spots to pitch a tent. I think most people do this climb in a day however.
Weather ConditionsNOAA Weather for West Slopes and North Cascades
Granite Falls weather from www.weather.com
Miscellaneous InfoAerial Photo by Terra Server.
Klenke has an excellent history of the mining at Monte Cristo Townsite at the bottom of the Cadet Peak page.
- USFS website
Mt. Baker / Snoqualmie National Forest.