The southwest ridge route for Silvertip Mountain is the most recommended summit approach for the peak, especially for general hikers and first-time visitors to the mountain. The route has little technical difficulty and has short hiking distance, but much of the route is very steep and there is considerable elevation gain.
: 3.5 miles (5.6 km) car-to-summit, with over 6600' (2000 m) cumulative elevation gain. Most summit parties require 10-14 hours roundtrip to complete a successful Silvertip Mountain summit ascent via this route.
Most of the route is merely a very steep hike, although there are several sections which require extra caution and consideration. Those sections will be described in further detail, later on this page. In addition, many of the steep sections and side-traverses would not be advisable to attempt in wet conditions.
Southwest Ridge, As Seen From Near Summit
FOR THE RECOMMENDED (SOUTHWEST RIDGE) ROUTE:
1) From Chilliwack, BC, head east along Highway 1 towards Hope.
2) After approximately 30 miles, take Exit 168 for Flood-Hope Road (immediately prior to Hope).
3) Turn right onto Flood-Hope Road.
4) After 0.2 miles, turn right onto Silver-Skagit Road. The road is paved for a short distance, but eventually becomes decent gravel with some "washboard" areas.
5) After 22.4 miles, turn left onto an unmarked dirt/gravel road. For reference purposes, the Maselpanic Forest Service Road is passed on the rightside (southside) of Silver-Skagit Road at 22.0 miles. After passing that road junction, a leftside spur road will be passed 0.2 miles further east: DO NOT TAKE THAT ROAD. A second leftside spur road, 0.2 miles further than the first spur road, which has a large dip in the beginning of it, is the correct road.
6) The spur road winds for 0.25 miles to a road-end and parking area, at the base of a steep, brushy, fan-shaped slope that is the remnant of a past clearcut. This is the beginning of the southwest ridge route.
: The spur road is currently in good condition, and is drivable by most passenger vehicles. Use extra caution for the initial large dip that occurs at the road junction with Silver-Skagit Road.
1) From the road-end/parking area at 2000' (600 m), begin hiking up a large, steep, brushy, fan-shaped slope. This slope was once the site of a clearcut, but is relatively straightforward to traverse.
-> The general rule-of-thumb is to ascend the slope left-of-center. There might be some hiker-flagging present, marking upper sections of the path leading up the slope.
-> This lower slope is prone to ticks, mostly during Spring through mid-Summer. Tick season is usually over by late Summer, but checking for ticks is always advised regardless of the ascent timeframe.
Start Of Hike At Fan-Shaped Clearcut
Spur Road/Parking Area Below Fan-Shaped Slope
2) At approximately 2700' (820 m), the slope winds up to the left (west) and enters steep forest. Ascending hikers can either follow the fan-shaped slope all the way to its upper end (where a path can be located), or begin heading up through steep forest up the steep western forested slopes.
3) CRUX SECTION #1: "Steep Dirt Step" at 3100' (950 m).
-> Much of the lower southwest ridge is cliffy on all sides, so reaching the ridgetop can be cumbersome if off-route. The preferred location to ascend to the ridgetop is the locally-nicknamed steep dirt step
, which is a very steep, narrow dirt slope. A slip on this slope could have disasterous consequences.
-> It might be possible to scramble up the rocky cliffs near this area, although finding the proper place to do so might be difficult.
-> It is also possible to continue ascending along the east side of the southwest ridge, below the cliffs, until bypassing the cliffy areas. However, this possibility is extremely brushy, can lead people off-route, and is not advised.
"Steep Dirt Step"
On Upper Section Of "Steep Dirt Step"
4) Once above the steep dirt step
, begin ascending the ridgetop through steep forested terrain. A path might go in and out of visibility, but the general rule-of-thumb is to continue up along the ridgetop.
-> It is much easier to get off-route while descending the ridge than ascending the ridge. Bring and use a GPS, as a safety method to correctly follow the route both directions.
Ascending Steep Forest On Ridge...
5) At approximately 4800' (1460 m), the first of several small clearings is passed which offers views of Silvertip Mountain.
First View Of Silvertip Mountain From Route...
6) At approximately 5300' (1620 m), a knife-edge section is reached which offers good views of Mount Rideout. After this area, summiters will reach a small rock rib which needs to be bypassed by side-traversing its east slopes. Several small rock ribs are also bypassed or ascended near this area.
7) At approximately 5900' (1800 m), the forest ends and the southwest ridge becomes a long meadow ridge leading towards a massive rocky bluff.
Forest Ends, Opens Up To Steep Meadows
8) CRUX SECTION #2: Southwest Ridge/Rocky Bluff Bypass.
-> At approximately 6000' (1830 m), slightly drop down the east side of the southwest ridge and begin side-traversing around the rocky bluff.
-> Side-traverse towards a small grove of evergreen trees, at which an old goat path can be temporarily located.
Begin Side-Traversing Around Rocky Bluff...
9) Follow the goat path (or side-traverse) around the rocky bluff until reaching the large meadow gully on the east side of the rocky bluff.
Looking Back At Route On Bluff East Side...
10) Continue side-traversing towards the large gully until reaching gentler-angled slopes at the southern base of the upper west ridge of Silvertip Mountain.
-> The upper areas of this large gully have snow-fed streams at approximately 6300' (1920 m) which offer the only natural water sources (outside of snowpack) along the route.
Large Gully With Snow-Fed Streams
11) Begin heading north up steep rocky meadow slopes until reaching the top of the west ridge at approximately 7000' (2130 m).
Looking Up At West Ridge...
False Summit & True Summit As Seen From West Ridge Approach...
Area Where West Ridge Is Reached...
12) Follow the west ridge of Silvertip Mountain eastward along the ridgetop until near the top of the rocky false summit.
Heading Eastward Along West Ridge...
West Ridge (During Descent)
13) CRUX SECTION #3: False Summit Scramble.
-> Once near the top of the false summit, begin to drop slightly down and scramble around the south side of the false summit block. The handholds and footholds in the rock are of Class 2 quality but the exposure is generally low-difficulty Class 3 if on-route.
Looking At North Faces While Approaching False Summit...
Leaving False Summit En Route To True Summit...
14) From the saddle between the false summit and true summit, continue heading eastward up the true summit hill. The ascent of the summit hill is mostly steep scree and dirt. Extra caution is required for the final summit slopes, due to the steep-but-loose terrain and an extended amount of side-traversing necessary.
Heading Up True Summit Hill...
15) When nearing the final summit block, ascend in the direction of a small notch on the right side (south side) of the summit. There is a final hidden gully leading up loose scree from the notch to the summit at 8517' (2596 m).
-> A secondary option is to scramble (Class 3-4) solid rock to the summit starting from the left side of the notch, prior to reaching the notch.
Nearing Top Of True Summit Hill...
16) The summit is open and rocky. There is a fantastic 360-degree view.
Silvertip Mountain Summit
Summit View To The North
Summit View To The South
Trekking poles, GPS, long pants, and plenty of water (as there are few, if any, sources present on the route).
Helmets advised but not required.
For summit attempts prior to mid-Summer (early-to-mid-August), it is usually best to carry an ice-axe and traction devices (such as microspikes) just in case of lingering snow causing potential problems along the route.
Satellite Image Showing General Route Track...