OverviewProminencian: A person who is so fascinated by the concept of prominence that he/she climbs peaks based primarily on their prominence.
Prominencians Peak: A peak located in Garfield County, Washington, that is the greatest prominent point in the county (CoGPP) and as such was given a nickname dedicated to people interested in the science of prominence.
Surrounded by taller peaks, located in a remote mountainous area in southeastern Washington, and with no trail leading to its summit, Prominencians Peak is a seldom attempted mountain destination. Looking beyond those aspects, however, the mountain is an important summit goal for some peakbaggers focused on prominence. With at least 899’ of prominence, Prominencians Peak is the most prominent point in Garfield County. This gives the mountain unique distinction despite official maps only showing the mountain as Peak 5139. Located several miles southwest of two of the main contenders for the county highpoint (CoHP), including Diamond Peak, it is possible to summit all of the CoGPP and CoHP contenders of Garfield County within one day.
One of the aspects of the peak that would keep most casual peakbaggers away (while perhaps interest more hardcore peakbaggers) is the nature of the standard approach. For the standard approach to the summit, the hike from the route’s highest point (along the Mount Misery Trail near Diamond Peak) would involve 2000’ of continuous elevation loss prior to a final 900’ elevation gain. Then to return, it would be 900’ of elevation loss prior to 2000’ of continuous elevation gain back to the highest point of the route. Granted, with the exception of the final 900’ to the summit most of the standard approach is via a long trail system, but that single-route elevation gain/loss can be a grind for many hikers.
Prominencians Peak was not always considered the Garfield CoGPP. In fact, the original CoGPP contender was Diamond Peak, due much to its CoHP status. By early 2004, renowned peakbagger Jeff Howbert had actually correctly calculated the prominences of Peak 5139 (899' prominence) and Diamond Peak (779' prominence). However, he was focused on prominences on peaks overall rather than prominences within specific counties, and he had the peak referenced as "Diamond Pk. Quad 1" rather than another name. As a result, his findings were overlooked and people generally still considered Diamond Peak to be the Garfield CoGPP.
During 2006, local peakbagger and prominence expert Eric Noel speculated that a peak other than Diamond Peak was likely the true Garfield CoGPP. Acting upon this notion, renowned peakbagger Andy Martin researched the proposal and determined Peak 5139 definitely had more prominence than Diamond Peak. Famed Northwest peakbagger John Roper then summited Peak 5139 to help complete his list of Washington CoGPPs. As part of the first recorded ascent of the peak, Roper decided to give the peak a name. In honor of the hobby of prominence as well peakbaggers who determined Peak 5139 to be the likely CoGPP, causing Roper to return to the Blue Mountains for those reasons, he dubbed Peak 5139 to be Prominencians Peak.
Getting There (Driving Directions)
FROM HIGHWAY 12 IN POMEROY, WA:
1) Drive south on 15th Street.
2) After 15.0 miles, the road enters the Umatilla National Forest and becomes known as Forest Road 40 (FR-40).
3) After 15.0 miles further along FR-40, turn a hard right onto FR-4030 towards Mount Misery Trail #3113.
NOTE: FR-40 encounters multiple roads at this intersection.
4) Then drive 4.5 miles to the eastern trailhead for Mount Misery Trail #3113, on the leftside of FR-4030.
FROM HIGHWAY 129 IN ASOTIN, WA:
1) Drive southwest on Baumeister Road. The road soon becomes known as Asotin Creek Road.
2) After 3.0 miles, turn right to continue on Asotin Creek Road. This road is soon known as Lickfork Road and later known as FR-41.
3) After 26.8 miles along Asotin Creek Road/Lickfork Road/FR-41, turn left onto FR-42.
4) After 1.0 mile along FR-42, turn left (south) onto FR-40.
5) After 7.3 miles along FR-40, turn a hard right onto FR-4030 towards Mount Misery Trail #3113.
NOTE: FR-40 encounters multiple roads at this intersection.
6) Then drive 4.5 miles to the eastern trailhead (~5800’ elevation) for Mount Misery Trail #3113, on the leftside of FR-4030.
Standard Approach (Hiking Directions)1) Hike 1.25 miles west along Mount Misery Trail, until reaching a southward-facing trail junction at a saddle located northwest of Diamond Peak. This is the intersection for Melton Fork Trail.
NOTE: There is an old small sign on a tree pointing south for Melton Fork Trail, indicating the southward direction for Wenaha River although the sign does not indicate the trail’s actual name. For reference/location purposes, Melton Fork Trail intersects Mount Misery Trail approximately 0.25 miles beyond a northward-facing trail intersection that is marked with a very large rock cairn.
2) Turn south onto the Melton Fork Trail.
NOTE: Despite continually heading south, due to Prominencians Peak having a lower elevation than other nearby peaks the mountain will not come into view for several miles.
3) Hike south along Melton Fork Trail for approximately five miles, until reaching a switchback (~ 4260’ elevation), on the south slopes of Point 4599.
4) Leave Melton Fork Trail at the switchback, briefly side-traversing WSW for 0.25 miles until reaching a forested saddle (4240’ elevation) located slightly northeast of the Prominencians Peak summit.
NOTE: There might be an old boot path/animal track that can be located and followed from the switchback to the saddle.
5) From the saddle, steeply ascend SSW along a ridge for 0.5 miles to the summit.
NOTE: Multiple elk tracks/paths can be found along the steep ridgeline. Many of these animal paths can assist with finding optimum routes. Much of the ground along the ridge, and mountain, is comprised of loose dirt and small rocks. The traverse is non-technical, but be alert and use caution during ascent and descent.
ESTIMATED ROUNDTRIP HIKING DISTANCE TO/FROM TRAILHEAD: 14.0 miles
Due to the steepness (i.e. avalanche danger) of the mountain and its standard approach, Prominencians Peak is only recommended during periods of no snowpack (typically late Spring through early Autumn). Most hikers might take 6-8 hours roundtrip on average, not including rest breaks, for Prominencians Peak.
Red TapeCurrently, no Northwest Forest Pass or any other permit is required to hike Mount Misery Trail #3113 or to summit Prominencians Peak.
However, it is recommended to check with the Umatilla National Forest for current conditions, permits, etc. before visiting the area.