One thing that has always struck me as a little strange is that no matter how much I look foreward to any given climb, once I stand on the summit, my attention starts to focus on other alpine prospects visible from where I happen to be standing. And so it was that whether on Mt. Ellinor, Mt. Washington, or Mt. Stone, Mt. Pershing was always there to torment me with the longings of my heart to stand on its summit. Whenever I'd add a little more wear-and-tear to my guidebook, I'd always wind up re-reading the route options on it so that I'd have the descriptions etched well into my mind when the time came. And when it did, thick clouds rendered just about all
Ellinor Pond and Mt. Pershing from the summit of Mt. Ellinor.
my research useless and my friend and I flailed our way blindly up exposed terrain which didn't seem to match the descriptions we'd studied in the guidebook. Yet 10 hours after leaving the vehicle, we were on the summit, looking down on a sea of clouds. As the cloud layer started settling down in to the valleys, we could start to admire the unveiled parts of the mountain we'd just climbed, not really mindful at all of what we might climb next.
Mount Pershing is a splendid craggy peak on the north side of an east facing horseshoe of jagged high country on the southeastern extremity of the Olympic Range. Other major peaks in this horseshoe include Mt. Washington, Ellinor, and Jefferson Peak. It is also a tantalizing peak for anyone standing on the summit of Mt. Ellinor and Washington. From the north side, however, it is more intimidating than tantalizing, as its shear north face rises high above the Hamma Hamma River valley. Climbers and hikers heading to the environs of Mt. Stone, Skokomish, and the Valley of Heaven can easily get a crook in their neck while gazing up at its imposing summit.[img:195535:alignright:small:Mt. Pershing's imposing north face as seen from the Hamma Hamma River Valley]
One of the striking characteristics of Mt. Pershing is the fact that once can't really get a grasp of just how convoluted the peak is unless able to view the mountain from multiples vantage points at one time. 3 sharp ridges drop directly off the summit area to the east, west, and south, with a precipitous 200-300 foot cliff dropping down to a ridge on the north which then leads to one of its lesser summits. The south ridge splits into two more ridges of its own. This author's own personal experience has demonstrated the difficulty of studying his own route from Mt. Washington just across Jefferson Creek Valley to the south. These convolutions are a real blessing, however, in that they increase the overall surface area of the mountain, giving it a feel of being much larger than it is.
The peak is composed primarily of pillow basalt formed when magma erupts under water and cools rapidly. It is quite juggy and can be quite sound in places and not so sound in others. If doing a technical route, one should be prepared to use a wide variety of protection.
According to the guide book Olympic Mountains: A Climbing Guide
, the peak is named after General John Pershing who commanded the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I. The first ascent was done by Don Dooley, Robert Henderson, Walt Ingalls, and Bob Mandelhorn in 1939.
To get to Mt. Pershing, the most straightforward way would be to turn west onto FR 25, 13.5 miles north of Hoodsport, WA. Follow this until it comes to a "T" just after crossing Cabin Creek. Turn left at the "T" on to FR 2480. Follow 2480 which crosses Jefferson Creek and after just over a couple miles from FR 25, turn right on to FR 2401 about 8-10 miles to a junction with FR 100, turn right, and just after crossing Jefferson Creek again, park in the turnout on the right. A faint trail leads into the deep old growth forest on the north side of the creek, though, as I recall from my own trip, it rarely, if ever, approaches close enough to the creek for it to be a convenient watering hole.
If one happens to be camped at near Lake Cushman, it would be more convenient to take FR 24 past FR 2419 (which heads to Mt. Ellinor) and turn left on FR 2441 which joins FR 2401 near Elk Lake. One could also take FR 24 to FR 2480, turn left, and follow that road to FR 2401, the same intersection mentioned in the first route.
As a side note, I was taking the the FR 24-2480-25 route to the Lena Lake TH and was going a little too fast. As I came around a bend, my youthful reflexes were no match for the gravelly road and poor tread on my pick-up and I slide head-on into another truck driven by wiser drivers who were able to bring their vehicle to a stop.
One could park somewhere along the Hamma Hamma River, try to survive a ford, and then survive an attempt of the northern aspect of the peak. If you have done it, please contribute to this page.
[img:131470:alignleft:medium:Ellinor Pond and Mt. Pershing from the summit of Mt. Ellinor.]A feasible, albeit rugged way to do Pershing would be to drop down Mt. Ellinor's (see that mountain's page) steep and exposed northern aspect, wherever you can find passage, to Ellinor Pond visible from Ellinor's summit (Lake Cushman is big, mind you, so not that way!) and make an ascent from there. Would likely be an overnighter.
As far as I know, there is not need for any sort of parking or camping pass at the trailhead which does not really get any maintenance.
This is a long day trip, but camping is possible, though one should be skilled in off trail techniques, as there are few, if any, established backcountry sites.
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