See Main Page for descriptions on how to get to the trail camp in the meadow on Cardinal's west side. These approaches all come in via the North Fork Entiat River drainage.
From the trail camp at 6,700 ft in the meadow 0.9 miles west of the summit, hike east through open forest until the forest ends in the basin west of Cardinal and below Pt. 8023. Eventually, the terrain will turn into talus and scree (or snow if earlier in the year). Your objective is the prominent 8,400-ft saddle above--the one between the North and Main summits. The climb up to the saddle will be the most annoying part of the day as it is loose.
From the saddle, the idea is to turn right and pick the most viable route up angled slabs interspersed with erosional cuts until reaching the ridge crest immediately ENE of the summit. It may be possible to scramble the crest to the top but I found ledges on the south side led easily over to the summit (minor exposure problems).
Distance from car to summit = 9.5 miles (90% trail). Elevation gain = 4,900 ft. Time = 5-6 hours.
Distance from meadow camp = 1.0 mile (no trail). Elevation gain = 1,900 ft. Time = 1.5-2.5 hours.
Outdoor clothing in case of bad weather.
No technical gear needed. Helmet optional.
Ice axe if early season or mid-season. There may be snowpatches on the exposed ridge. By late season these should be all but gone.
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