While not particularly high, Mt. Roosevelt is one of the more challenging alpine scrambles in the Snoqualmie Pass area. Its imposing eastern facade is easily recognizable from popular Snow Lake, yet few could name the peak, and even fewer have climbed it. Roosevelt's summit is seldomly visited due to its remote setting and challenging nature. Its only non-technical route, a class 3 gully of rock, heather, and dirt on the SE side of the mountain, is very exposed and unprotectable in most places. If you are uncomfortable on slippery heather and mud while overlooking hundreds of feet of exposure, this may not be the mountain for you. If, on the other hand, you want to feel a real sense of accomplishment and see truly spectacular views of the Snoqualmie Pass area from an unusual vantage, this peak may fit the bill exactly.
Trail to Gem Lake Start of Gully to Summit TOPO! software image.
Drive East on I-90 from Seattle to Exit 52. Turn left off of the exit ramp, go under the freeway, and drive approximately two miles until you reach the end of the road at the Alpental Ski Area parking lot, which is also the parking lot for the Snow Lake Trailhead.
Hike the Snow Lake Trail 2.6 miles to Snow Lake, then follow the trail to Gem Lake around the north side of Snow Lake. This trail will take you to Gem Lake in another 2 miles. From the west side of Gem Lake, find the climber's booth path which follows a ridge to approach Mt. Roosevelt from the northeast.
Once directly under the North Peak, continue south, skirting to the left of buttresses , and arrive in a high snow basin on the SE side of the South Peak. Be sure to climb the higher South Peak (on the left) rather than the lower North peak, which is an easier scramble.
From the basin, a diagonal ramp will lead into the SE gully. Climb the gully to the top. This will be the "crux" of the climb. At the top of the gully, scramble right on easy terrain to just below the summit, then climb an easy but exposed pitch (10 feet) to the summit.
This scramble is 12 miles round trip from the car, with about 3,500 feet of elevation gain. The overall scramble is actually more difficult than the numbers indicate, as the mile going around Snow Lake involves a lot of ups and downs, and the final gully requires care, especially on the way down. One slip and there is no way to stop yourself. Ice axes may be useful to self-belay on the steep heather and dirt.
A trail park pass is required ($30/year, $5 daily) from the U.S. Forest Service. Also, a wilderness permit is required (available free at the trailhead) to enter the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
The road is open year round, as it also serves the Alpental Ski Area. However, there is EXTREME avalanche danger on this trail, not to mention frequent artillery barrages from the ski area in the winter.
When To Climb
The mountain is generally climbed May through October. Due to extreme avalanche conditions and artillery bombardment from the Alpental Ski Area, it is highly advisable to avoid this area in the winter/early spring months.
Snow Lake from Summit
Free camping is permitted with a wilderness pass at Snow Lake and Gem Lake. There is also a hotel called the Summit Lodge at Snoqualmie right off I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass. There are also numerous private chalets which may be rentable.
The closest year-round Forest Service ranger station is in North Bend, about 14 miles from Snoqualmie Pass. Contact information:
North Bend Office
42404 SE N. Bend Way
North Bend, WA 98045
Snow conditions are available from the Summit at Snoqualmie Ski Areas (of which Alpental is one) at the following website:
Summit at Snoqualmie Snow Conditions
Also, webcams are available from the Washington State Department of Transportation at:
Snoqualmie Pass Web Cam