K9 is an unofficially-named peak located within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Washington State. The peak stands adjacent to the popular Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and is considered to be non-technical, yet receives few summit parties each year. The most popular timeframe to attempt the peak is during Summer and Autumn months, although Winter and Spring ascents are possible
. The summit offers 360-Degree views from its open rocky top.
South View From Summit
Getting ThereFROM INTERSECTION OF HIGHWAY 2 & FIFTH STREET NORTH (Skykomish Exit):
1) Drive east along Highway 2, towards Stevens Pass.
2) After 11.7 miles, near the end of a sharp leftward road-bend, turn right onto Forest Road 6095.
3) Drive along Forest Road 6095 for 1.2 miles.
4) Turn left (uphill) and park alongside the road. The Tunnel Creek Trailhead (& Kiosk) is on the right side of the road.
STARTING ELEVATION: 3040'
1) Hike southeast along Tunnel Creek Trail. A great view of the north face of K9 can be seen several times, early during the ascent.
North Face Of K9
2) After 1.6 miles, Tunnel Creek Trail intersects with the PCT. Hope Lake (4400') will be on the east side of the trail junction.
3) Turn right (south) onto the PCT and begin ascending south-southwest. The trail reaches a high saddle at 5200' elevation (southeast of "The Hydrant") before gradually heading back downhill. The trail then reaches a low elevation of approximately 4950' (with a great view of the east face of K9) before gradually ascending again.
East Side View Of K9
4) At a flat meadow area near 5200' elevation, leave the PCT and begin ascending up towards a saddle on the southwest side of K9. This location is approximately 2.2 miles from the Tunnel Creek Trail/PCT junction. Some small ponds can be found in this meadow when snow is not present.
Heading North From PCT...
5) Head towards and up a boulder slope.
Ascending Steep Boulder Slope...
6) At the top of the boulder slope is a steep slope full of thick vegetation. Attempt to find the easiest way to ascend this steep slope, whether it is via hiking, veggie belays, or both actions.
Steep Vegetation Slope
7) A cliff face stands above this slope. The goal is to get around the cliff to the ridgeline above it. Although it might be possible to scramble around the right (east) side of the cliff, most potential summiters ascend around the left (west) side of the cliff. A hidden dirt gully is on the other side of the left side of the cliff, leading up the ridge beyond.
8) Once on the ridge, hike across steep forest groves, through thick trees, and sometimes even side-traversing steep meadow slopes until reaching the summit ridge.
Ascending Through Thick Forests On Ridge
Side-Traversing Steep Meadow Slopes
9) The summit ridge is an open slope comprised of steep slanted meadow growth and boulders.
Final Ridge To Summit
10) The summit (6242') of K9 is atop a rocky outcrop.
A Northwest Forest Pass (parking permit) is required for the Tunnel Creek Trailhead.
All hiking and/or climbing parties are required to fill-out a Wilderness Permit at the kiosk. The Wilderness Permit is free.
When to Climb
K9 can be summited year-round, depending on experience and conditions.
However, it is most recommended during late Summer through early Autumn, after snow has melted from the steep slopes of the mountain and the PCT.
Backcountry camping is allowed along the PCT.
However, campfires are not allowed within 0.5-mile of any lake within Alpine Lakes Wilderness.