The Chatter Creek Trail Route is the most popular route to the summit of Grindstone. Though a large amount of the elevation gain of this mountain is done by trail walking, the last bit of the trip to the summit will be what you will most remember. This peak in summer and fall has it all; boulder scrambling, scree field, heather climbing, amazing views, delicious berries, and great fall colors. Using the YDS System this climb rank as a Class 2+ by easiest route. This climb can be done in snow conditions provided avalanche conditions are look and an ice axe and crampons are used. A helmet is required year round!
VIA THE CHATTER CREEK TRAILHEAD: Located just north of downtown Leavenworth off of Route 2 take Icicle Creek road for roughly 12 miles all the way down to the Chatter Creek Trailhead on your right just before the Chatter Creek Campground. *** It should be noted that as of August 2010 ** this road has been washed out which will now force you to park at the the gate and walk an additional 1 1/2 mile to the Chatter Creek Trailhead.
If you remeber nothing else remember this photo!!
The prominent summer route is by the Chatter Creek Trailhead. It is the preferred route because the Chatter Creek Trail go up to 6800 feet on Grindstone before going over a pass. Though the trail begins out gently for the first quarter mile it then becomes much steeper as it switchbacks up to a gap in the mountain. This section is about 2000 feet of elevation gain in a fairly short amount of time. The trail as of 2010 is a little brushy but easy to follow.
The grade of the trail mellows out once through the pass about 5000 feet. It turns west and heads to the foot of Grindstone where views of the east ridge of the mountain dramatically rise above the valley. Once the trail gets fairly close to Grindstone it heads right of the mountain and switchbacks up to a gap in the mountain. It does have a short catwalk style section but most experienced hikers and climber will do very well here.
Once up to the second to last major switchback you want to then head left into the heather and scree field and aim for 10 boulder which lies between the western and eastern highpoint. If you remeber absolutely nothing else about this page then you should look at the photo above to find out where to go in order to get to teh other side. You should hit the ridge just right of that boulder. It should be noted that if you try to cross by attaining the highest ridge and going accross that way the route goes up dramatically in difficulty. So as painful as traversing steep scree is try to stay on the route mentioned here.
As you look south from the ridge looking toward you will notices a number of sharp peaks that look very difficult. You can relax because none of them are Grindstone. Grindstone is actually hidden from the northern false summit and out of view from the ridge. You will notice the summit area as you do a traverse along the scree slope.
Descend 200 feet on the other side and then cut left bypassing a large false summit of Grindstone and crossing a scree field. Once past the scree field look up to what looks like the highest point on your left and start your scramble towards it. If your scramble is beyond low class 3 you are heading to the wrong highpoint. Continue going up the Clas 2 to 2+ boulder scramble up a gully to attain the ridge. Keep scrambling to the right of the ridge and look for the true summit. The final summit will have small cairn and a summit register on it.
The Total Distance from the trailhead is 10.5 miles. As of August 2010 there is a washout 1.5 miles from the trailhead which will now make the distance 13.5 miles.
From August to October: helmet and trekking poles as well as essential hiking gear a must.
From December to July: Ice axe, helmet and crampons mandatory.
External Links Here is the place for recent conditions in the Cascades.