NW Approach to West Ridge

Page Type
Washington, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Half a day
Class 3 with a little Class 4

Route Quality: 1 Votes

3065 Hits
0% Score
Log in
to vote
Page By:
NW Approach to West Ridge
Created On: Sep 27, 2004
Last Edited On: Nov 28, 2008


For the driving approach to the start point, see the Northwest Approach on the main page. You should expect about half-an-hour of driving to get to the start point from Hwy-530. The nice thing is, if it's summer time, you'll be gaining over 3,000 ft on the drive. "Trailhead" starts of over 4,000 ft on the west side of the Cascades are not common so you should take advantage of them when you can.

Route Description

From the beginning of the spur road (c. 4,060 ft), walk the spur south for about 10 minutes as it descends slightly along the west flank of Illabot. The road is not shown on maps. At the second log pile (c. 3,940 ft), leave the road and enter the forest on the left.

Climb obliquely up and right through mostly open forest, aiming for the meadow (c. 4,500 ft) WNW of Pt. 5603. A small stream tumbles through this inclined meadow. Continue up and right to another meadow with a rock wall on its upper-right end. Go south in the meadow and make for the west spur of Pt. 5603 where the contours are flatter (c. 4,900 ft). From there, climb up and right (some rocks to deal with in the forest) to get to the next meadow (c. 5,200 ft) south of Pt. 5603. Bear right (east) in the meadow, right of a cliff, to a mossy/grassy ramp that leads up to the ridge crest at ~5,440 ft. Once on the crest, turn left (uphill) and ascend open terrain to just before Pt. 5600. You do not have to climb to the top of Pt. 5600. Instead, begin contouring right to the saddle between it and the main summit. The saddle has some small gendarmes in it so you may be forced to the south side.

West Ridge Completion

When the ridge toward the main summit finally steepens and exfoliates a few hundred feet below the top, trend down and right to a short dirt traverse/gully leading to snags (dead scrub pines) at the south foot of the buttress. Possibly a small cairn here. Step over the snags then cross another depression eastward for 40 feet (look for a piece of orange flagging in this depression) to a diminutive rock crest with a deep south-draining gully on the other side. Go left (upward) and do one Class 4 step (two moves) or possibly take a ledge into the gully (unpleasant tree bushwhack in the gully). From the step, climb up 20-30 more feet to a small buttress. You can go right into the gully but it involves another uncertain move. Instead, go left (west) around the buttress back up to the ridge crest. Turn right (east) and scramble over rocks and through trees to the final notch (the top of the deep gully). Now, a wide ledge can be taken rightward from the notch to the south side of the final summit, which is now only 20 vertical feet above you. From the summit, the completion from the end of this ledge looked to entail a little bit of Class 4. There is a route to the left from the notch. It leads to a slabby depression on the NW side of summit. Climb the Class 4 slabs for 15 feet (small foot and fingerhold ledges on slabs). The rest is easy to the top. Reverse the route on the return.

Time: 3 hours from car give or take an hour depending on route-finding success
Gain: 2000 ft
Difficulty: Some steep forest; some steep and possibly wet meadow; rock scrambling with a few Class 4 moves but beware of lurking Class 5

Essential Gear

A helmet might be nice if climbing with others
Ice axe in early season
Crampons if icy. These might also be handy for downclimbing steep, wet forest or meadow

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.