OverviewPoe Mountain trail, and its remoteness ensures that it is climbed by only a handful of parties each year. The trip to Whittier puts you into the heart of great wilderness. In fact, you will be passing through two different wilderness areas. Poets Ridge forms the boundary between Henry M. Jackson Wilderness in the west, and Glacier Peak Wilderness in the east. So you will begin your climb in the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness, but summit in Glacier Peak Wilderness.
An ascent of Whittier can be combined (over multiple days) with that of the entire Poet's Ridge, including Bryant Peak, Whittier, Longfellow, Poe Mountain, and Irving Peak. Additionally, the unusual perspective of this area offers unique views of Glacier Peak, the Dakobed Range, and the Monte Cristo Peaks. This is a long, hard day, but the rewards really are great.
Technically, it is a moderate scramble, with some class 3 on loose rock gaining the summit ridge. The real challenge, however, is the elevation gain. With ups and downs, you will gain over 6,000 feet in the 14-mile round trip from the car.
Take the Poe Mountain Trail 3 miles, gaining 3000 feet to gain the ridge. Turn left (north) on the Poet's Ridge Trail, traversing north below the cliffs of Longfellow. The trail drops nearly 800 feet north of Longfellow.
After dropping the 800 feet, the trail begins to climb again through trees. Again, the trail will lose another 200 feet in elevation, skirting cliffs to the east. Once beyond the cliffs, leave the trail, and climb straight east to reach a saddle. Drop over the other side into a large basin, losing another 500 feet in the process. Traverse the basin to reach cliffs guarding the northwest ridge of Whittier Peak. This will be the crux of the climb. Find the easiest route through the cliffs, which will be mainly class 3. If you're encountering too much Class 4, you're off route. In general, the easiest routes to the top of the ridge are lower down away from the summit. After gaining the summit ridge, scramble easily to the summit. A strong party will require one very long day (12-14 hours) to complete the climb. Warning: Beckey's guide says to just run the ridge between Longfellow and Whittier. He has obviously never climbed the peak, as this is an impractical route to the summit.
Time from car to summit: 7-8 hours
Roundtrip distance: 12 miles
Red Tape and Camping
The road will be closed in the winter beyond Lake Wenatchee.
For further information, contact the U.S. Forest Service at:
U.S. Forest Service
Lake Wenatchee Ranger District
There are numerous "self-serve" campsites on the Little Wenatchee Road, available for a nominal fee. Be sure to arrive early on a Friday to find a spot.
In addition, camping is possible on Poet's Ridge or in the basin between the saddle and Whittier Peak. However, there is no water on Poet's Ridge, and any camping would have to take place before mid-July to take advantage of any snow banks.
.When To Climb
In addition, snow cover in the basin leading to Whittier's summit ridge makes traversing the basin much easier. A June scramble is ideal.
For snow conditions, contact the Lake Wentachee Recreation Club at:
Lake Wenatchee Recreation Club
Also, webcams are available from the Washington State Department of Transportation at:
Stevens Pass Web Cam