There are a number of Red Mountains in Washington. The Red Mountain of this adventure is essentially the high point on the NW portion of the extensive Ragged Ridge. From Red Mountain, Ragged Ridge extends SE to include Cosho, Kimtah, Katsuk, and Mesahchie. The ridge leading up to Red Mountain is 4.5 miles long. Four point five miles might not sound like much, but when it involves about 7500 feet of cumulative gain, steep timber, snow slogging, and tricky ridges maneuvers, it's a long way. But in this case it is a beautiful long way, surrounded by glimpses of seemingly every peak in the park; views are dominated by Colonial, Snowfield, Primus, Torment, Forbidden, Ripsaw Ridge, Buckner, Logan, the rest of the peaks of Ragged RIdge, and much much more. It's quite a spectacular location.
The approach begins right off SR 20, on the Thunder Creek Trail which starts from near the day use area at the Colonial Creek Campground (24 miles east of Marblemount just past milepost 130).
Tom and I had planned on a long 1-day ascent. But when Friday turned into such a brilliant day, an email flurry led to a decision to clock out of work and study early, drive to the trailhead, and see how far we could get before it got dark. We hiked 2 hours up to Fourth of July Pass, where we established a camp with broken views of the Colonial group and Primus Peak. This cut off 2300ft and 5 miles of the next day's climb, which was already going to be a full day. (Tom and I agreed afterward that it would be a very long day to do this route car-to-car, and only really feasible under ideal snow conditions.)
Since the temperatures were going to be warm, we wanted to start early and maximize our time spent on firm snow. So at 5am we headed southward out of camp and began clambering up the timbered slopes along the shoulder of Red Mountain. The snow conditions turned out to be perfect, and with the spring consolidation we ended up using our snowshoes only for traction on the way up and taking them off as soon as the snow softened in the sun. Above the treeline on the ridgecrest, we strolled along reveling in the panoramic views, almost thankful that the ridge was so lengthy as it gave us more time to enjoy the area. There were some pretty cool cornice collapses along the east side of the ridge to marvel at as well. After numerous almost-there-nope-oops-crap-not-the-summit-yet bumps, we finally found ourselves on the highest bump. Wow, what a view!
Next: 7500 ft to go....down...
See the stats and photos to the right for more details.
Roundtrip distance: ~22 miles (5 miles between car and camp)
Start elev.: ~1250 ft
Red Mountain summit: 7658 ft
Cumulative elevation gain/loss: ~7500 ft (2300 ft to camp)
Car to Camp: 2:10; Camp to Summit: 5:15; On summit: 0:25; Summit to Camp: 4:05; Camp to Car: 1:40; Pack up camp: 0:35 Total cumulative (not counting the evening at camp): 14:10
- 3:25 pm (Friday): Arrive at Thunder Creek TH (~1250 ft) at Colonial Creek Campground on HWY 20
- 4:10 pm: Start hiking
- 6:20 pm: Arrive at camp (3500 ft, 4.8 miles) near Fourth of July Pass
- 8:34 pm: Sunset
- 4:00 am (Saturday): Wake up
- 5:00 am: Start snowshoeing up shoulder of Red Mountain
- 5:26 am: Sunrise
- 10:15 am: Summit (7658 ft)
- 10:40 am: Begin descent
- 2:45 pm: Arrive back at camp, pack up
- 3:20 pm: Leave camp
- 5:01 pm: Arrive back at car
- 8:35 pm: Sunset