Huckleberry Mountain (left) and Joe Lake
Huckleberry Mountain resides in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and is most easily accessible by the Pacific Crest Trail via Snoqualmie Pass. It is not the highest summit in the area, nor the most sought after objective, but can be quite appealing to dedicated peak baggers. The summit can be seen from many nearby mountains such as Kendall Peak and Alta Mountain and its sharply rising pyramidal profile is quite striking. Achieving the summit is no easy matter however. From the nearest trailhead (PCT Snoqualmie) it is approximately 10 miles to the summit, and the summit block is stiff class 3 and 4 scrambling with exposure. The first ascent was by Charles Hazlehurst and Thomas Acheson in 1915. Due to the difficulty of the summit block, one of them wrote his will on the cuff of his shirt due to doubts he would survive the descent. This underscores the difficulty of the scrambling on the summit block. If properly prepared and with a good amount of prior experience scrambling, the route can be quite enjoyable and the views from the summit are grand.
Huckleberry Mountain Summit View
Most will access Huckleberry Mountain from the PCT Trailhead at Snoqualmie Pass. From the Seattle area take I-90 east and take exit 52 and turn left, heading under the freeway. Take your first right, following signs to the trailhead. A link to the trailhead on Google maps can be found here
Route Discussion - East Ridge Route described here
Hike the PCT, or take the Commonwealth basin shortcut (recommended, and meets up with the PCT saving about a mile) and hike up past the Kendall Katwalk, past Ridge Lake, around Alaska Mountain, and around Huckleberry mountain until you are pretty much due east from Huckleberry's summit. It is approximately 9-10 miles to this point where the routes begin. Due to the length of this trip many parties will do this in 2 or even 3 days with a camp at Ridge or Gravel Lake, or where ever else you'd like really. Fit parties on a mission can do this trip in a single day. This was how I did it and it was an 11 1/2 hour day for me and my partner. Be prepared for a long day if you choose this option.
Chikamin Peak from the PCT
Start of the route to Huckleberry Mountain
East Ridge start - route goes along the right side linking the tree patches
Huckleberry Mountain - Becky Route Start
From the PCT due east from Huckleberry's summit take off cross country heading west up steep heather or talus until you get to the base of the climb where mellow terrain ends and the route gets rocky. Here the going gets rough. You have a couple options. The Becky route heads left at the base of the rocks and accesses a steep loose gully which leads to a notch and the final summit block. The east ridge route heads right up the ridge along class 3+ terrain. The Becky route seems to be losing favor and more climbers seen to be taking the east ridge route these days. The loose gully on the Becky route has turned some parties around due to rock fall danger. Since I took the east ridge route that is what I will describe here.
The route goes up the right side of the east ridge, basically going from tree patch to tree patch (the start of the route is pictured above on the lower left). Looking up at it, it is not really clear where the route goes. It's hard to piece together with your eyes. Once you start and are on route, the next move is fairly obvious though. Staying towards the right is the way to go at the beginning of the route. The scrambling is stiff class 3 with probably a few class 4 moves. This is certainly not a beginners scramble. Some parties do a running belay up this section, but others will be fine just scrambling. About half way up, maybe a little further, depart the ridge proper by heading left and doing a short traverse to reach a blocky ramp which you ascended to reach a high point right before the summit block. Descended about 20 feet to reach the notch and the start of the summit block. To get down to the notch you can either go straight down or go skiers right and do a class 3 traverse to reach a ramp that leads down to the notch. Both work fine.
The route on the summit block goes up the middle of the first photo below, up to the obvious slabby ramp. From there you can do a short class 5 crack, or follow the ramp climbers left to access the summit via exposed class 3/4. On my ascent we took the class 5 crack and only placed one piece of protection, a #1 camalot at the start of the class 5 crack. The rack we brought was total overkill, but better safe than sorry. We also brought a 60m rope and were happy with the choice. We considered a 30m, but it would have been insufficient for the rappel off the summit block. 60m is the way to go.
Huckleberry Mountain's Summit Block
Climbing Huckleberry's Class 5 Crack
Helmet, harness, ATC
Small alpine rack (exact pro varies, we only used a #1 camalot)
There is a lot of variety in how much parties protect this route. If you are ultra conservative you could belay the entire east ridge. At the same time this, route has been free soloed but this is not recommended at all. In other words you're going to need a rope. Even very experienced scramblers prefer to rappel the summit block at the very least (there is another rap station on the east ridge as well). It is highly recommended to bring a 60m rope to rappel off the summit block.
A Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful pass is required for parking at the trailhead.
When to Climb
Late spring to late fall is the recommended season (July to October).
If doing this trip in multiple days, Gravel Lake or Ridge Lake seem to be the popular spots for a camp site.
External LinksPeakbagger page for Huckleberry Mountain.
See this page for other trip reports.