Southwest Ridge

Page Type
Washington, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Most of a day
little or no scrambing (class 1-2), steep snow depending on season

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Southwest Ridge
Created On: Jun 3, 2007
Last Edited On: Feb 23, 2009


This route begins on Tupso Pass Rd (the road to Three Fingers trailhead), involves a road walk up an abandoned road up South Fork Canyon Creek drainage and a bushwack/scramble up towards Windy Pass and onto the SW ridge. A short traverse to the NW of the south summit brings you to the summit.

Getting There

(See the "Getting There" section of the main page for directions up Tupso Pass Rd #41).
Nice RoadRd 4130 before you get to the washout...

Park at the beginning of Forest Service Rd 4030 on the side of Tupso Pass Rd (if you want to avoid scratching your car). At half a mile the road will be impassable to vehicles due to large treefalls. In about 1 mile you will reach a fork in the road. Continue left downhill on road #4130 (Rd #4131 is the uphill branch). About 10-15 minutes later you will arrive at a large road washout. This can be tricky to navigate, I found it easier to scramble down towards the right side. The road is in decent shape up until this point, but after the washout it gets progressively worse. The road becomes completely overgrown with all sorts of trees and bushes and is very difficult to walk on.
Nice road......and after

About half a mile later you will come to a large open pit area and the road will appear to have disappeared. There is a large washout and the road turns to the north. I put several orange flags here so it should be pretty apparent where to go. You cross the creek and enter into some thick brush, then the road will be visible again. The road will turn right and head east again. This last section of road is the worst of the brush. It becomes extremely difficult/impossible to make any progress on the road; I often found it easier to walk in the woods next to the road. After about half a mile (or roughly half an hour) the road will get very close to Canyon Creek. There will be some flags marking routes off to the left. There are some flags marking a route down the hill, I'm not sure if they lead to an easier route or not. I waited until the opening in the trees where you can see the creek from the road. (After this point the road turns SE and comes to an end (according to the map anyways).) I put several flags here going down to the creek. This is where you leave the road and begin the route.

Route Description

Canyon CreekCanyon Creek crossing

Walk down the hill from the road to the creek. Both times I have been up here there has been a nice log bridge here across the river. On the other side you will see some more flags and another log you may have to use if the creek is high. From here you want to head ENE uphill at about a 70 degree heading. Soon you will see & hear Windy Creek to your right. Just keep following this route uphill keeping the creek to your right. Travel is fairly easy and pleasant through the old growth. Around 3000' the hillside steepens considerably and you enter very thick slide alder and devils club. You will struggle up the next 500 feet to get through this section of brush; it is very slow travel. You will soon break out of it and be on open slopes. You will want to start heading more north (left) at this point towards the SW ridge. Once atop the ridge, be careful for large cornices and a very steep drop off the north side. Travel along the ridge which becomes very steep in places. At about 5100 feet you will reach a flat area and the summit and south summit will be cleary visible.
Big Bear summitSummit from 5100' on SW Ridge

From this point you want to drop down and traverse below and to the north of the south summit and below cliffs. You will head straight up to the notch between the main summit and south summit, then walk north to the summit. There are very large overhanging cornices over the east side, so make sure you are on solid ground. You will also want an ice axe for the walk up to the summit as a slip would rocket you down the slope and off the cliffs below.

Essential Gear

Ice axe, crampons and helmet a good idea

External Links

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Road Conditons Report
(check this page for condition of Tupso Pass Road- FS Rd #41, make sure you can drive to Rd 4130)