Spinnaker Peak is a terrific winter off trail summit destination. Despite being fairly close to Route 2, Spinnaker Peak is seldom climbed and usually the few that make it to the summit will have the peak all to themselves. The mountain itself with 845 feet of clean prominence feature plenty of great viewing area of many of the other central Cascades including Mount Rainier, Glacier Peak, Mount Stuart, Mount Daniel Rock Mountain and Mount Howard. If those views are not enough for you check ou the slighty small neighbor Martin Peak which actually has 360 degree open views of the surrounding region. Though there are some trees at the summit there are plenty of views along the way that make this peak gem on a clear day. Spinnaker Peak would not be an ideal destination in summer because despite the fact that the summit is just a mile from the Pacific Crest Trail the vegetation in the area is quiet thick and the off trail bushwhack is quiet intense.
In winter most of the rocky terrain and low vegetation can be avoided because of the heavy snow cover. That being said the Pacific Crest Trail is usually completely snow-covered and passes along a number of avalanche chute. Therefore the Pacific Crest Trail should be avoided for winter travel. Instead from the Yodelin Parking Area you want to walk on the road across the street and take it all the way to the end. From there break trail up the valley and into the gap. You will cross two streams along the way so use caution because they often are running even in the dead of winter.
You want to stay in the valley has it gradually and moderately ascends up to the basin which lies between Spinnaker and Tye Peak. You want to head to the col between Point 5261 and Spinnaker Peak. This will be the steepest part of the trip but the right path is taken to the col there will be minimal exposure or steep areas, and if summiting Spinnaker Peak solely an ice axe is not required.
For a more challanging climb head straight up to the Point 5261. Point 5261 itself is great sub summit with great views of Spinnaker and many other summits in the region. From Point 5261 follow the ridge all the way to the summit of Spinnaker Peak. This ridge becomes quiet narrow and drops off rather steeply into a number of cols. Traversing the ridge though much more scenic and doable, also can be quiet alpine in nature. An ice axe is required for this traverse and in higher avalanche danger this traverse should be avoided. That being said Point 5261 has plenty of amazing views in it's own right.
Getting ThereVIA STEVENS PASS: Take Route 2 to two miles east Stevens Pass. Stevens Pass is located 20 miles east of Skyomish and 30 miles west of Leavenworth. You want to park in Stevens Pass Ski Area overflow lot on your south side 2 miles east of the main ski area. There will be a building that is marked no tresspassing and no parking to the right of the building. That is residence for the workers of the ski area. The large parking to the left is the overflow and is legal to park there. From there just go accross that street and go down the street for the winter route.
Red TapeProvided you park in the ski resort overflow lot on the south side of US 2, there will be no fee.
CampingCamping is prohibited on the road leading that leads down the Nason Creek Valley. These are private residences. One through the residential community though backcountry camping is allowed provided. A highly recommended winter camping area is the basin between Spinnaker Peak and Tye Peak.
External LinksFor the best weather and snow conditions in the immediate surrounding reach go www.stevenspass.com or click here
Weather LinksHere is a link to shots of live shots of Stevens Pass.
Here is the NOAA forecast for the western Cascades