Laying out the Primscree PathThis is the standard route to the summit from the southwest basin. It isn’t the only route but it’s the only one I’m going to elaborate on. There has been a climb of the North Face. There may have been one on the East Face.
To outline the standard route one must choose a starting point. The starting point will be the point where one leaves the Park Creek Trail. In short, the route involves a mile or so of steep bootpath, a short traverse leftward at a key elevation, a short descent into the southwest basin via a ramp, an endless talus field (maybe it will be snowcovered for you), then steepening gullies, then a backside traverse on a ledge to a final half-pitch of scrambling. A rappel may be necessary—especially for the faint of heart.
For those that like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like. So here is the trip report for this particular climb.
Trail DepartureLeave the Park Creek Trail at 1.5 miles after it crosses the creek at a large rockslide/feeder stream crossing with whitish rock (c. 4,000 ft). Alternatively, this point is about 3.5 miles south of Park Creek Pass if coming from that way (though there may be a short cut; I’ve heard it’s brushy). This feeder stream may be the last water you find in late season so be sure to fill up there. On the USGS map, this rockslide/feeder stream is the one at the “A” in CASCADES.
Find the bootpath (may be poorly marked) on the north side of the rock slide maybe about 50 yards into the stream on the other side. If you can’t initially find it, simply hike up through the woods keeping rightward so the ravine of the feeder stream is close on your right. The bootpath generally keeps to the indistinct spur left (north) of this ravine. The bootpath is ostensibly used for the more popular Goode Mountain, as such you don’t want to stay on it to its end because it will eventually lead you away from the tempestuous king of this here page.
The Sidling SlinkAt 5,500 ft (here) make a hard contour leftward (bearing WNW) so as to find the ramp (here). The terrain through here is beginning to be sub-alpine in nature. You should be able to make good time through intermittent grass, brush, and trees. Note: you could conceivably continue up and not contour left at 5,500 ft so as to get into the basin higher up at 6,700 ft here but the lower ramp is useful in that you can expect late season water at its exit (shown as a blue stream on the map). The lower ramp is benign and even offers a campsite.
The Talus Torture ChamberEvery evil king’s castle has a torture chamber in its bowels. Well, here is the Storm King’s chamber….
From the ramp, hike up the stream (minor boulder work but no special problems). In late season the stream hides under the surface at higher elevations. Eventually, the wide stream gully opens up to just plane old talus. Move left out of the stream and cut diagonally across, aiming for the obvious head of the talus basin where it meets a constriction (at ~7,000 ft) below the King’s upper castle ramparts. There is a cliff band at the constriction but there is a fairly easy way through (Class 3).
The Throne RoomNext up is the King’s throne room. Once above the minor difficulties of the cliff band in the constriction you will next find yourself wearisomely climbing over even more talus of the even looser variety. From the windows surrounding the King’s throne room you can see three statues. Each is scheming to usurp the throne, but which one is the true King of Storms?
The upper talus melds into a broad scree slope issuing forth from the middle tower. This tower is distinguishable as having a narrow, slabby face of light-gray color. This is the summit tower. Ignore the others…except the one on the right…
Far to the left is a broad rampart. This is Pt. 8515 (not the summit elevation). The tower to the immediate left of the middle tower has a 8520+ closed contour the same as the middle (summit) tower. But it is definitely lower. To the right is a much lower tower.
Stealing the Crown“Fang, son of Great Fang, the traitor we seek,
The laws of the brethren say this:
That only the king sees the crown of the gods,
And he, the usurper, must die.”
--White Mountain (Genesis, 1970)
To the right of the central, slabby tower is a deep gully with a solitary little horn at its top notch. THIS IS THE WRONG GULLY. You want the next gully over (on the right side of the southern tower). You most certainly do not want to go even further right across Class 3 ledges. If you find yourself traversing ledges you’re off route.
Climb up the gully right of the gully with the small horn. This starts out as rubbly slabs but transitions to more hands work near the top (Class 2/3).
At the notch, look left. There is an unlikely ledge that traverses the backside of the southern tower. You can see the ledge better if you scramble up and right a few yards. Not three yards down the ledge one comes to an overhang requiring a squeeze under (Class 3). WATCH YOUR FOOTING HERE. There is debris on the ledge. Once past that, keep going on the ledge. It gets easier. Traverse over a small promontory then another. Traverse all the way across the backside of the summit (middle) tower to a small spur. Turn left and scramble up the spur (Class 3) to the small notch on the north side of the summit.
From this final notch you can choose to climb a short, solid Class 4 face of 15 feet to easier ground. Alternatively, you can bypass the face on the left side (the upper east side). It’s a Class 3+ scramble that is easier on the ascent than the descent due to a number of high steps.
Escaping with the CrownFor the descent, rappel off the east side of the summit. One 30m rope will suffice but you will end up having to do about 20 feet of Class 3 diagonalling across variable rocks to the aforementioned final spur. For the rest return the way you went climbed up.
Things to Bring30m rope or 50m rope (60m rope unnecessary).
Three slings in addition to anchor slings
A small assortment of pro if you’re really timid
Ice axe in early season
Crampons possibly in early season
Moleskin for the blisters your feet might get walking over all that talus and scree
Trekking poles (for balance on all that talus and scree and/or snow)