Voodoo Peak from Helena Peak
Voodoo Peak is the unofficial name given to a rugged 5198' peak located seven miles south of Darrington, WA. While attached to Helena Peak by a north trending ridge, Voodoo Peak is most certainly a separate mountain, with 898' of prominence, and a striking presence when viewed from any angle. Despite its short stature and tree-covered slopes, this peak is no part-day pushover. It is continuously steep on all sides, and requires basic mountaineering skills to successfully summit. According to the Cascade Alpine Guide, Voodoo Peak did not have a recorded first ascent until 1968.
From Darrington, follow the Mountain Loop Highway south for approximately three miles, and make a right hand turn on to FR2060 (Clear Creek Campground will be on the left). Follow FR2060 approximately 5.3 miles to a fork. Make a left turn (this is still FR2060), cross the Clear Creek bridge, and continue another 0.3 miles past the bridge. The side road on which the route begins is very difficult to see from FR2060, as the first few hundred feet is covered in brush. It is located at (N48 09.338 W121 36.087 Elev. 1720'), and is currently marked with two pieces of pink survey tape. I recommend a quick look at Google Earth before leaving the house, as it does a good job of showing this road in relation to the climbing route. Additionally, SteveMarr's photo (posted below) does a great job of showing the road and climbing route.
Voodoo Peak (left) and Exfoliation Dome (right) as seen from Three O'Clock Rock.
Voodoo Peak route map
After finding the aforementioned logging spur, follow it northwest for approximately 0.3 miles, where you will reach a major creek drainage that flows between Voodoo Peak and Exfoliation Dome
. Cross the creek, turn right, and begin heading straight uphill. While Voodoo Peak requires plenty of physical effort to climb, routefinding is a no-brainer. The ridge/rib that you will follow to the north summit is very well defined, and will get progressively narrower as you ascend.
Voodoo Peak from Three Fingers. Climbing route follows the rib straight up the center of the photo to the false north summit, then follows the ridge south to the main summit.
While the entire route after the creek is steep, things really start angling up at about the 3500' point. Minor cliff bands can be avoided with small deviations to the left and right, and abundant vegetation will provide you with necessary "bush belays". The true crux of this climb is between 4000' and 4200', where more difficult cliff bands will require some class 4 climbing (about 100' total in three sections), and a couple moves of low 5th class climbing. Our first "technical" climbing started at (N48 09.243 W121 35.001 Elev. 4000'), where we avoided a steep, narrow gully by following a ramp to the right. At about the 4100' level, we encountered a chimney that did not look too appealing for climbing, and we also avoided this on the right. Good holds were difficult to find at one point on this detour, so we resorted to a little "aid climbing" (my friend gave me a boost up, I girth hitched a tree root with a sling, and pulled myself up on it). We found our 100' 8mm rope to be adequate for the limited climbing we did, and we only used slings for protection.
First section of class 4 on Voodoo Peak's west rib. We scrambled up the ramp on the right hand side.
Second section of class 4 (some class 5) on Voodoo Peak's west rib. We detoured around this chimney on the right hand side. The chimney is full of deadly rocks, and is not recommended.
Third section of class 4 on Voodoo Peak's west rib. No need to rope up on this one on the way up, but a good place to consider a short rappel on descent.
Note: I would highly recommend a few pieces of temporary flagging to help identify your intended rappel points on the descent. This rib is covered in vegetation, which tends to hide the cliff bands until you are right on top of them.
After passing the 4200' level, easy class 3 climbing will lead you to the north summit.
Voodoo Peak main summit from false north summit
From the north summit, scramble the ridge crest south to Voodoo Peak's main summit, making small deviations left and right as necessary (class 2/3).
Voodoo Peak north summit from main summit
Voodoo Peak summit pano
Three Fingers and Whitehorse from Voodoo Peak
Witch Doctor Wall (back side of Exfoliation Dome) from Voodoo Peak. Notice the fresh scar on the right side of the photo where a giant slab peeled off.
For the descent, we made three short rappels, for which our 100' rope was more than adequate.
A Northwest Forest Pass is not required to park in this area.
When to Climb
May to October would probably provide the best conditions. Expect very steep snow in early season.
East side of Voodoo Peak from Bluegrass Butte. I am not certain about the viability of routes from this direction, but from looking at maps, it appears to have a slightly lower angle than the west face. Unfortunately, any approach to this face would involve a long and difficult approach up the roadless Helena Creek valley.
Voodoo Peak is best done as a day climb, and there is really no good place to camp on the mountain itself. The nearest designated campground is the Clear Creek Campground across from the start of FR2060.