As of 7/31/05 - there is a huge tree down AND a big washout at 2.2 miles on FR-1570 at ~1300' elevation, adding about 2 miles of road hiking. There is reasonable camping at road's end, but the next non-emergency camping is many hours away. The trail starts at the far end of an overgrown clearcut, just before a brook, and climbs steeply into oldgrowth. After reaching the ridge top, the trail descends slightly as it passes E of point 5116, before climbing to the saddle just S of 5116. At this saddle there is an easy-to-miss trail junction. The main trail descends 800' to Found Lake, but you should turn left (S) and climb 1000' to the top of point 5791 on an improving trail. From 5791 the trail becomes faint as it descends through cliffs, then becomes easy to follow as it crosses over or nearly over a few more points, bearing SSW, to the vicinity of Cyclone Lake and good camping. Five hours from the car and 5000' ascent.
From the E side of Cyclone lake, follow heather and easy slabs up Snowking's E ridge to the summit, fininishing on the S side. Class 2. Two hours and 2000' ascent. There are good bivy spots (melt snow for water) at 6300' and ~6900' on the E ridge.
An alternate route is the ridge on the W side of Cyclone lake then ascending the glacier to just E of the summit, rejoining the normal route. In contrast to some guidebook authors, I do -not- recommend following the W ridge if you intend to skirt the glacier, rejoining the normal route below the glacier, because the N face is cut by several annoying gulleys (class 3 and 4) which makes it slower than the normal route.
is more like 14.2 miles than 13.2 miles. Turn-off is shortly after MP 14 sign.
Thanks. I made the change.
Definitely a beautiful and worthwhile peak. The approach has become more challenging as follows: The road, 1570, is blocked by a washout about 100 yards after crossing the Cascade River- thus fully maximizing the necessary elevation gain to climb the peak - from 1150 feet to 7433 feet. Follow the road after walking across the washout for a hundred yards and take the right fork, now blocked by the USFS with several large boulders. This old road is easy to follow but is very brushy about 40 percent of the time. At the end of the road is good camping. Allow 1.5 hours to hike to this point. The trail starts here at about 2300' and goes straight up the side of the hill, and remains very steep for almost two hours. It is not difficult to follow if one pays attention, but except for the first quarter mile no attempt has been made to maintain the trail. It is not brushy, though. After the first hour + of steep hiking the trail gets less steep. When you reach 4600' there is a flat boggy area with some forest camping along its edges. We camped a bit higher at 4757' in a less wet area, but with no running water.
From the flat area at 4757' the trail veers off the main ridge (actually more like a forested shoulder) so one must pay attention. The trail does NOT go over the top of the 5080 forested knob ahead. Instead a good trail circles around on its east side and ends up in the saddle between this knob and the higher (5400') one just south. To find this nice boot trail start hiking into the woods on the SE corner of the open area. Unfortunately the trail is not flagged here and is very obscure, BUT it becomes distinct quite suddenly only 100 yards from the open area, and eventually has flags along its way. (We only found this trail on the way back, and it is easy to follow back northbound from the saddle).
The saddle is a heavily forested lowpoint between the two large knobs. Hike to the western edge of the saddle on the trail. After descending maybe 20 vertical feet and walking 200 yards from the highpoint there is a faint split in the trail. The right fork is a fisherman's trail to Found Lake. Take the left fork which immediately goes up the south knob. This trail will ascend the NW slopes and then the west slops to the very summit of the knob. If you lose the trail in the snow (as we did) you risk getting into the otherwordly rocks of Mordor- a talus field like none I have ever seen with bottomless black pits surrounding each huge rock, the size of semi trucks. Your goal is to be on the top of the knob, as the horrifying talus field is in the upper west side. From the top of the knob the trail heads almost directly for Snowking, with a few twists and turns and minor bumps to ascend, and is pleasant. Eventually you will find yourself on another hillock overlooking Cyclone Lake. Most parties go left and take the NE Ridge to the top. We went right and crossed the outlet stream of the Lake. This required a rappel at the notch, but on the way back we found a way to skirt the cliffs around the outlet stream with a little scrambling just right above the lake.
From Cyclone Lake the route to the summit is easy, with the final 100 feet of rocky bit being class two and on the east slope of the summit pinnacle.
The area is exceedingly beautiful.