Silver Star Mountain (L), the Wine Spires (just left of center), and Vasiliki Ridge (R) from the north (above and east of Silver Star Creek).
Setting from the north.
This well known view from the west does not show the most common routes.
Silver Star Mountain is a massive peak located about four miles northeast of Washington Pass in the North Cascades. From the pass and road, it appears as a purely rock peak with its formidable west face and the Wine Spires towering above Early Winters Creek. However, hidden from view on the north side of the mountain is one of the largest glaciers on the east side of the Cascades The mountain is far less imposing viewed from the north or the south.
Silver Star has two summits separated by a 300 foot deep col at the head of the glacier. The eastern summit is the higher at 8,876 feet. The western summit is just over 8,840 feet. The north ridge of the west peak has the spectacular wine spires at its northern end. The extension of the north ridge beyond Burgundy Col is named Vasiliki Ridge. Snagtooth Ridge extends to the south of the west peak. Along the east ridge of the east peak is the 8,351 foot Silver Horn.
Views from the summit are particularly rewarding - see photo section below.
Lage Wernstedt made the first ascent of the east peak in about 1926 from the south.
The west peak was first climbed by Fred Beckey, Joe Hieb, Herb Staley, and Don Wilde on 31 May 1952 via its northeast side from Silver Star Glacier.
Burgundy Col Approach
There are two main starting points for climbs of Silver Star Mountain. Both begin at parking places along the North Cascades Highway (State Highway 20).
For those using the Burgundy Col or Willow Creek approach, there is a broad shoulder / pull out / overlook located about 4 miles east of Washington Pass near milepost 166 and a sign pointing to Silver Star Mountain.
The route to Burgundy Col from the parking area descends to the creek bottom below, then climbs to the col. It gets enough traffic that there is now a pretty well defined trail. More Details
The Willow Creek route follows a worn (not constructed) trail along the north valley slope into the upper basin below Snagtooth Ridge.
Silver Star Creek Approach
For those using the Silver Star Creek approach, there is adequate parking where the highway crosses Silver Star Creek. There is a sign at the creek. There is somewhat of a trail leading from the parking area through the forest on the east side of the creek. More Details
Washington Department of Transportation web site with information and updates on the spring opening of Wasington Pass and the North Cascades Highway. The road can be open to Silver Star Creek (or near it) before it is open to the Pass and the Burgundy Col parking area:
Washington Pass Information
Routes OverviewEAST SUMMIT
South Route Attains the col between the summits via scree slopes and gullies on the south side. Class 2 to the col, then the Class 3-4 finish to the summit.
Silver Star Glacier from north
Silver Star Glacier via Burgundy Col
Probably he most popular route on the mountain. From Burgundy Col the route descends to the glacier then diagonals up to the col between the two peaks. The glacier itself is and easy snow climb. The climb from the col to the summit is various graded as Class 3 or 4 depending on the author and some just say Class 3-4. The difficulty depends on the exact line taken and can be affected by the amount of snow and ice in the rocks.
Silver Star Glacier, via Silver Star Creek
This route attains the glacier at or near its toe and climbs directly up to the col between the peaks with numerous variations possible. Easy snow on the glacier and Class 3-4 rock from the col to the summit.
NE Spur & E Ridge
Grade III, 5.8, six hours from the glacier. Starts at the eastern end of Silver Star Glacier.
SE Face & E Ridge
Grade II Class 4 and possibly easy Class 5. Approached from Cedar Creek.
On Silver Star Glacier
Class 4 with weathered and loose rock.
Grade III 5.8 A1
Grade III 5.9
Grade IV 5.10D
Silver Star Glacier
From the col between the peaks a snow finger is climbed on the northeast face to the summit block which is Class 4. The summit block can also be reached via gullies on the south side of the West Peak.
Labeled & Well Captioned Summit Views
Red Tape, Conditions and General Forest Information.
No permits are required to climb Silver Star.
No parking pass is presently required to park at either major access point. (Silver Star Creek, or the shoulder / overlook on the highway)
The Okanogan National Forest web site has current information regarding obtaining a NW Forest Pass, road and trail conditions, closures, campgrounds, etc.:
Okanogan National Forest
When To Climb
The main climbing season is April into the fall depending on the amount of snow and the status of the road.
Silver Star Creek camp
Burgundy Col camp
For those camping in the area prior to an approach or one day climb, there are official USFS fee campgrounds on both sides of Washington Pass. The nearest is Lone Fir to the east with Klipchuck and Early Winters a bit further east, but at lower elevations and thus open earlier in the season.
Some folks "bivouac" at the Blue Lake Trailhead or even at the hairpin curve or any number other unofficial spots.
For those wishing to pack in and camp near the peak, there are sites at Burgundy Col and in the upper basin of Silver Star Creek.