Hubbart Peak from Point 4450
Hubbart Peak is still the same fantastic viewpoint that it was in 1889, but it receives very little attention from local peakbaggers, for a number of reasons. First, it is surrounded by several higher peaks (despite its healthy 1476' of prominence), and often gets lost in the clutter of the Monte Cristo subrange. Second, just getting to the base of the mountain has become more difficult with the closing of the North Fork Skykomish River Road, and the deterioration of the old Silver Creek Road. Lastly, its ascent is made more challenging by a necessary fording of Silver Creek, and an exposed section of class 4 climbing at one point on the route.
Climbing Hubbart Peak is physically demanding, and will take the better part of a day. However, its stunning vistas will provide a rich reward for those willing to overcome its challenges.
Follow US2 to the Beckler River Road (FR65), located one mile east of Skykomish. Follow FR65 up and over Jack Pass - the first seven miles will be paved. After crossing the North Fork Skykomish River, FR65 will intersect with FR63. Stay left on FR63, and follow it west - at this point, the road is once again paved. After about 4.6 miles, FR63 will cross the river again. One mile past this point, turn right onto FR6330, which will immediately cross the river for a third time. At this point, you will be about 21 miles from US2, at what was once the bustling mining community of Galena. Shortly after crossing the river, FR6330 will fork. Turn right onto FR6335 (Silver Creek Road). If you are in a normal passenger vehicle, you will want to park shortly after turning onto FR6335, as the road deteriorates rapidly. FR6335 is 'driveable' to a point about 1.5 miles past the Galena bridge, but only for those equipped with high-clearance, four wheel drive vehicles (my Outback made it about 0.7 miles up the road).
Those who want to do less driving, at the expense of some extra walking, can approach the Silver Creek/Galena area from the Index area. From Index, take the North Fork Skykomish River Road north for about six miles, where the road will abruptly end at a large washout. Locate the walking path on the hillside above the old road grade, and follow it to the far side of two large washouts. From here, an easy road walk will lead you to the bridge crossing at Galena. Please note that this approach will add at least six miles of walking to an already long day. It is possible to carry a mountain bike around the washouts, but a large number of blowdowns make it somewhat difficult. See map below for washout detail.
Washouts on North Fork Skykomish Road
Hubbart Peak route map
Hubbart Peak from Sheep Gap Mountain. My apologies for the poor quality of this photo - it does do a good job of showing the overall route, starting at bottom right corner of photo.
Hubbart Peak from South Crested Butte. This mountain seems to defy all my attempts to photograph it with decent lighting. Point 4450 on lower right portion of photo.
Finally got a half-way decent photograph of the route. Hubbart Peak from Mineral Butte - 5-7-16
The end of 'driveable' road will be very obvious, as the road has been taken out by a gigantic land slide at this point. Your goal now is to follow the Silver Creek Road to a point about 2.7 miles from the North Fork Skykomish bridge, just upstream of Quartz Creek (please note that Quartz Creek is mislabeled on Green Trails maps). This is not as easy as it sounds. Silver Creek Road has suffered bridge failures and grade failures in several locations, and will require careful footwork in places to avoid injury or falls. Most of the 'scary' sections have been equipped with ropes and improvised ladders - it is at your discretion if you want to trust these 'fixes'. A memorial partway up the road to a person who met misfortune will remind you to exercise caution. Having said all that, it really is a neat area, with lots of waterfalls, good views down into Silver Creek, and a few mine shafts along the way.
Bridge crossing on Hubbart Peak route
The last bridge before Quartz Creek will really test your nerve (not the one in the picture above). Positioned above a deep gorge, it appears ready to fall down at any time. Whether or not you choose to use the bridge is up to you. At some point north of Quartz Creek, make your way down to Silver Creek for the ford. We found the terrain to be a little steep right at the creek junction, so we continued up the road a short distance to 'The Bus', which is something of a landmark for people who explore in this area. From 'The Bus' we made our way down to the creek.
'The Bus' on Hubbart Peak route. N47 55.684 W121 26.393
When the water is running low, the Silver Creek ford is probably not too difficult. The water was running fairly high for us, so we brought separate tennis shoes for the crossing (also good for the road walk). The water was two feet deep in several places, and running swift - use caution if making this crossing in high water, and take the time to search out a safe crossing point.
From the ford, we made our way directly up the hill towards our objective ridge. From the creek at 1700' to about 2400', we suffered through nasty brush and second growth. In hindsight, we probably would have been better served to go downstream a few hundred yards before heading uphill (shown in yellow on route map). The area right next to Quartz Creek appears to be old growth, and would probably be easier to travel in. Once leaving the second growth, scrambling up the ridge was steep but pleasant. We were able to stay right on the crest for most of the way up to 4100'. Upon reaching 4100', you will come to a very obvious cliff that will necessitate a detour.
4100' on Hubbart Peak's West Ridge
The next several hundred feet will represent the crux of the climb. Traverse to the left about 200 feet - there is a 'high option' and a 'low option'. Both involve exposed class 3 scrambling. The 'low option' is probably a little safer, at the expense of a some altitude loss. We took the 'high option' on the way out, found it to be a little easier, and marked the start of it with survey tape.
Soon you will notice an obvious gully heading up towards the top of Point 4450. Climbing into this gully will require about 20' of exposed, class 4 climbing. We elected not to rope up for this climb on the way up, but I would highly recommend a rappel for the way down. We used a 100' 8mm rope for the rappel, which worked out well. If you do decide to carry a rope for the climb, you may as well cache it upon entering the gully - you will not be needing it for the rest of the ascent.
Here's a few lat/longs for the GPS nerds in the group: Start of traverse - N47 55.933 W121 25.517, End of traverse - N47 55.955 W121 25.511, Top of gully - N47 55.944 W121 25.466
Rappelling the class 4 crux on Hubbart Peak. On the way up, I climbed the on the far left edge of this photo, as it had a few small shrubs to hang on to.
Once in the gully, easy class 3 scrambling will take you to the top of Point 4450. Now, simply follow the West Ridge towards the summit. Travel is fairly easy - the only decision left to make is whether to stay exactly on the ridge crest, or travel into the bowl beneath the summit. If you stay on the ridge, there are a couple of small rock steps that are easily negotiated. The second option is probably the easier of the two, but must be avoided if there is any avalanche potential. In the picture below, look for the obvious shark fin rock. Simply ascend the gully to the left of this rock, and you can rejoin the West Ridge for the rest of the scramble to the summit. This variation is shown in yellow on the route map. (We ascended via the ridge, and descended via the gully - both routes work well.)
Hubbart Peak summit
Looking down the West Ridge route on Hubbart Peak. Point 4450 at top right.
Use caution as you approach the summit (if in early season), as this mountain has the potential to create gigantic cornices. Upon arriving at the summit, you will be blown away by the awesome views. Hubbart Peak is perfectly located for great views of the Monte Cristo peaks, Gothic Basin area, and numerous other summits.
Hubbart Peak summit pano
Troublesome Mountain from Hubbart Peak
Monte Cristo subrange from Hubbart Peak
Scott Peak from Hubbart Peak
Now for those of you who want to do something completely different: Here's a link
to a trip report from a party who traversed to Hubbart Peak from Scott Peak. From the description, it sounds like it was a LOT of work.
A parking pass is not required to park on FR6335. Just park far enough off the road to let the 4x4's get by.
When to Climb
Early season climbs of this peak are fine, provided Jack Pass is not snowed in (or you could walk in from the Index side), and you're ready for a cold creek crossing. Late season climbs are probably a little easier, but bring plenty of water for the long ridge climb (personally, I would not take water out of Silver Creek - too many mines in the area). I would avoid this climb in wet or inclement weather, as the traverse and class 4 section would probably be a little sketchy under such conditions.
The closest official campground is the Troublesome Creek Campground on FR63. One could certainly camp by 'The Bus', but that would seem a little creepy to me. If you desire to camp somewhere on the route, the top of Point 4450 has several flat meadow areas.