Very close to Black Mountain, Brown sees few visitors. Since 1987 there have been only 3 ascents as evidenced in its tiny film bottle register. Slightly shorter and gnarlier gendarmes form a short spine that crawls SW from its summit. More guesome pinnacles form a spine that rolls North connecting with Black Mountain. A beautiful snowfield blankets its Western slope and drapes up the Southern gulley on Black Mountain. Brown stands out afar, obscuring the lower portion of Black from many Southern angles. To be certain, it has a commanding view of the Sitkum on Glacier Peak. It is a very worthy objective of those headed across the Painted Traverse.
View West from Brown
From Darrington go south on the mountain loop highway about 17 miles turning left onto Sloan Creek Road and following it to its end at the North Fork Sauk trail head. From here there are two options depending on which route you want to take. Perhaps the easiest is to take the North Fork Sauk trail 8.5 miles to Red Pass junction, then continue to Red Pass, up and over Portal Peak, Purple (Point 6910) and Skullcap Peak. Alternatively, if doing the Painted Traverse, follow the North Fork Sauk 1/3 mile until it's junction with Red (Painted) Mountain trail which takes you part way up Painted. Climb Painted then traverse East over many unfriendly class 3/4 scrambles interspersed with snowfields bumping over Magenta, Black then bearing south to Brown.
Get to the Choppa!
From Skullcap Peak, head North along a faint trail until arriving at a mossy class 3/4 cliff band. Either climb the band (which sucks) or traverse ledges to the East and North to a very steep heather/snow slope trending West to regain the ridge and bypass the 3/4 step. Once above, ascend heathery slopes until the North side is visible. Dropping down this into a large snowbowl will provide easy access to the class 2 on Brown peak not far to the NE.
Alternatively, you could drop down from the summit of Black Mountain via the south gulley if going clockwise on the Painted Traverse. The gulley is steep heather and may be more suitable with snow present. There are alpine rock options for those inclined.
Black from 6844
A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead.
When to Climb
Climb any time but beware of avalanche conditions and know your limits. The Sloan Creek Road (NF-49) may also be closed in winter. While not really technical, this is far from an established trail. Ice-axe and crampons may come in handy before late August. There have only been two entries since 1987 for this peak and possibly for good reason.
Camp only in designated camping locations. Use established fire rings and put them out properly. Practice "leave no trace" as this is a wilderness area.
External LinksNOAA forecast
Roads and Trails Conditions
Mt. Baker Snoualmie National Forest office numbers and information
NWHikers trip reports of the Painted Traverse in Dry and Snow conditions:
Painted Traverse report by Stefan
Painted Traverse report by Wolfie