Mount Washington is one of the most popular and most easily accessed climbs in the Olympic Range. It sits with its 5944 ft neighbor Mt Ellinor high above the shores of Lake Cushman. Washington's summit ridge serves as the boundary for the Mount Skokomish Wilderness boundary.
The view from the summit of Mount Washington (Photo by Gimpilator)
East Side Routes: From US 101, follow signs for Lake Cushman until FS rd 24 is reached. At the T, turn right on RD 24 for about 1 mile. Turn left on FS RD 2419 and follow it up the Big Creek Drainage to the start of the routes. In the winter, this road may be blocked 2-3 miles from the trailhead.
North/West Side Routes: From US 101, take FS RD 25 towards the Hama Hama Recreation Area. Just after the Hama Hama campground, cross the river and follow the signs for Elk Lakes. From the lakes, take FS RD 2401 to its end.
Most routes begin directly off the roads with minimal approach required (amount of bushwhacking varies...)
Red TapeMt Washington is within the Olympic National Forest, so there is no entrance or camping fee. A Northwest Forest Pass is not needed unless parking at the Mt Ellinor trailhead.
CampingCamping is allowed anywhere within the National Forest. The Hama Hama, Elk Lake, and Jefferson Lake campgrounds all fill up fast with fishermen and hunters so don't count on getting a spot.
There are established routes up almost every climbable aspect of Mt Washington. These routes vary from low class 3 climbs to chossy 5th class technical climbs. If you plan to attempt any route, regardless of its rating, make sure you are well versed in basic mountaineering skills (ice ax use, etc...) and navigation.
|Route 1||I, 3||This is the standard route and can become crowded on a nice day. Wear your helmet!|
|Surprise Couloir||II, 4||Best climbed early in season. Two tools and rock protection are advised|
|Route 2||I, 3||Climbs east side of peak|
|Winter Direct||II, AI-1||Only climbed when snow covered. Bring 2 tools and rock and ice pro. Always check the local avalanche forecast!|
|Southeast Ridge||III, 5.7||See the Olympic Mountain Climbing Guide by Olympic Mountain Rescue for in depth details on this route. TR with excellent beta|
|East Ridge||II, 4|
|Northeast Ridge||I, 3||Use the Jefferson Creek approach. This route involves extensive bushwhacking and is rarely done|
|Northeast Face||II, 3||Ascends between the NE and N ridges|
|Great Groove||II, 4||Climb a dry waterfall on the NE Face before intersecting the NE face route|
|North Ridge - Diagonal Snowfield||II, 4||Same approach as the Great Groove|
|North Ridge - Yellow Cedar||II, 4|
|North-Northwest Face||II, 3|
|Shangri-La Valleye||II, 3||Sometimes Combined with a traverse over to Mt Ellinor|
|Southwest Snowfield||II, 3|
When to ClimbMount Washington is regularly climbed in all seasons. Winter eliminates much of the scree and poor quality rock, but snow can greatly increase the approach distance. Usually only the east side routes are climbed in the winter months. Route 1 and Winter Direct are favorites during the winter, often climbed on George Washington's birthday.
External Links/ResourcesOlympic Mountain Rescue
Olympic National Forest
Olympic Mountains: A Climbing Guide This is the only comprehensive climbing guide for the Olympics. Sales help support Olympic Mountain Rescue.
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