North and East Routes

Page Type
Washington, United States, North America
Route Type:
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
Most of a day
Forest cliff bands and narrow, rocky ridge
Rock Difficulty:
Class 3

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North and East Routes
Created On: Dec 31, 2006
Last Edited On: Oct 30, 2013


Even though these two routes use different roads to get higher up the mountain, they both use the same start point and both finish on Storm King’s East Ridge. And so I will describe them on the same route page. These routes are good winter routes. They begin with logging road walking (bicycling would be exasperating due to the many blowdowns so should be left at home) then forest romping with cliff bands to avoid or climb through in the trees, then ridge crest running (on or just below), then a final ridge scramble (Class 3).

Driving Approach

At the east end of Lake Sutherland find South Shore Road leading west (goes to Snug Harbor). At 0.4 miles a logging road cuts off on the left opposite a house (elevation 650 ft). This is FR-3050. Drive it as far as possible. Maybe you could drive at least as far as the road junction here where the East and North routes split (c. 1200 ft). Note that we did not see the black dashed road paralleling the purple dashed road. It may be there or it may be overgrown. But there is no need to worry about it. It wouldn’t present a shorter route to the North Route.

Update for 2013:  I've heard that FR-3050 is now blocked (bermed) right off of the highway.  Still, this route to Storm King's summit is still easier/shorter than the West Ridge Route.
Update for August 2009: I was able to drive at least 1.1 miles up FR-3050 (we were only able to drive 0.7 miles to a large blowdown blockage back in December 2006). I turned around at the first road fork at 1.1 miles. There are jersey barrier blocks blocking the right-half of the beginning of FR-3050. With a high-clearance vehicle (Toyota Highlander type vehicle), one can get around these blocks.

North Route

From the aforementioned road split at 1200 ft, continue west (on the lower fork). Cross Falls Creek (old sign) in 0.5 miles. In another 0.5 miles (1.7 miles from the car) reach a T-junction (c. 1400 ft). The spur to the left leads up to the base of the steepening north slope. Follow the spur (mildly overgrown) for less than half-a-mile to maybe 200 yards before the end. Leave the road and crash up through cramped regrowth for several hundred yards to reach the tall, undisturbed trees beyond (c. 2000 ft).

Once in the tall trees try and find this gully to keep left of (avoid) a cliff band in the forest. It starts to become obvious as a gully at around 2,300 ft. Keep going up the gully for about 700 vertical feet to an elevation of about 3,000 ft whereupon one should leave the gully rightward (west) above the cliff band. Now diagonal across the open forest (some very large, stately trees in here) west and southwest to reach the ridge crest at the 4,350-ft hump a quarter-mile east of the top.

Follow the ridge west toward the summit, keeping to just below the crest on the north side to avoid tight trees. The ridge comes to a final 50-ft-deep notch. Downclimb to the notch (Class 3) where a few trees provide shelter and safety.

Climb directly out of the notch on pillowy basalt (Class 3). We had to do one move of Class 4 but it is largely Class 3 at worst to get to the summit. Be aware that the final ridge is a knife edge in spots. There is very little run-out—most of this to the north face. One particular open slope was pretty freaky in this regard but we managed without too much pucker factor.

The summit is flat with trees on the north. These trees don’t obscure the views too much. Lake Crescent is visible to the west. There is a register (large white PVC pipe).

Time: 5 hours, Gain: ~3,700 ft, Distance: ~2.5 miles from car

East Route

From the road split at 1200 ft, go left and take this road back east then up for several miles up to the ridge crest, leaving the high road about here (3850 ft) to head southwest to gain the ridge crest a short distance away. It would be better to contour west at 4000 ft to avoid having to downclimb into the ensuing 3780-ft notch to the west. From this notch it is then probably necessary to go around the north side of the next crag (4,300+ ft). Expect steep terrain. Once past the crag the going gets easier except for tight trees right along the crest necessitating a traverse just below it on the north side. Eventually the East Route meets the north route at the 4,350-ft hump a quarter-mile from the summit. Allow for more time to do the climb this way as compared to the North Route (perhaps 2 more hours). The gain would be more too considering the ups and downs along the ridge.

Descent Options

Descend the final east ridge to the notch. It might be possible to go down the gully north of the notch then contour east to your up-route. Or continue straight down to the logging area some 2,500 feet below. My opinion is, though, to go back the way you came. A carry over to the west route back to the Mount Storm King Trail might work, especially if one knows that route.

Essential Gear

In summer I think these routes are non-technical though you may wish to tote a 30m rope. In winter a rope may be warranted depending on snow coverage. A 50 or 60m rope would be better due to potential long rappels down the final east ridge. In early season an ice axe would be mandatory. For the east ridge, a small rack (four or five pieces and lots of runners) would be wise.

North and East Routes

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