OverviewThe impressive-looking North side of Maude houses a fairly popular steep snow and ice climb to its summit. Over the last few decades the once year-round climb has begun to hold continuous snow and ice only into mid-July, but it is still a very fun way to get to the summit of this 9000-foot peak.
Getting ThereThere are three practical ways to get to the North side of Maude and be in position to climb the North Face.
1)This is generally the fastest way to get there. From the Phelps Creek trailhead South of the mountain hike nearly 4 miles to where Leroy Creek crosses the trail. Follow the as-marked unmaintained trail, better than most maintained trails, steeply uphill to Leroy Basin where campsites are readily available among the meadows and streams. From Leroy Basin continue steeply uphill cross-country up meadows, scrub, talus, and likely some snow to the Seven Fingered Jack-Maude Col located Norhtwest of the summit of Maude. From this col make a generally descending traverse across snow, ice, and very loose and exposed class 3 until you find yourself about a 1/3 of the way up the North Face.
2)This is not quite as fast as option 1, but allows a near full traverse of the mountain. Again take the Phelps Creek Trail to the Leroy Creek spur trail and on up to Leroy Basin. Continue to follow the path in a generally southerly direction directly underneath the western side of Mount Maude for a couple miles around the south side of the mountain. The track, how visible it is will depend on snow cover and the amount of recent traffic, curves gently as it ascends towards a saddle on the ridge trending south from the summit of Maude. From this saddle Ice Lakes comes into view to the East. These make a great campspot as the safest and most hassle-free descent passes back this way. From the lakes cross a low saddle over the ridge trending east from the summit to drop down onto the Entiat Glacier. Make a descending traverse northwestward across the Entiat Glacier underneath a prominent icefall to the base of the North Face. Crevasse issues should be minimal.
3)Drive the Entiat River Road 38 miles from its junction with US 97 in Entiat. Then hike the Entiat River Trail from Cottonwood Campground some 14.5 miles to its end in the cirque formed by Maude, Seven Fingered Jack, and Fernow. This is a long way in, is it worth it? Fred Beckey quotes Claude Ewing Rusk in the Cascade Alpine Guide Volume 2, "The awe-inspiring spectacle that marks the head of the Entiat River... the wildly broken masses of snow and ice, at the upper end, cling with precarious tenacity to a thousand-foot precipice rim." Climb up snow and loose, class 3 rock to reach the base of the North Face proper from the expansive Entiat Meadows.
Route DescriptionBefore mid-July the North Face should have an obvious section of continuous snow stretching from the Entiat Glacier to near the summit. Follow the 40-55 degree snow with a possibility of hard alpine ice near the top, where the face is steepest, and finish a short 100 vertical feet from the summit. Class 2 scrambling brings one to the summit.
The North Face has been skied several times and would make a very fast, albeit circuitous, descent route. A great choice if you're up for it, otherwise descend the South route for peace of mind. Climbers often descend one of the gullies cut into the west side of Maude either by mistake or thinking it will be a better alternative to the standard south route; I have never met someone who did this and did not regret it. So stay to the south and descend towards Ice Lakes.