SW Approach to West Ridge

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Washington, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Half a day
Class 3 with a little Class 4

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Created On: Sep 27, 2004
Last Edited On: Sep 28, 2004


For the driving approach to the start point, see the Southwest Approach on the main page. You should expect about half-an-hour of driving to get to the start point from Hwy-530. The nice thing is, if it's summer time, you'll be gaining over 3,000 ft on the drive. "Trailhead" starts of over 4,000 ft on the west side of the Cascades are not common so you should take advantage of them when you can.

Route Description

From wherever you wind up parking near the saddle (c. 4,060 ft), walk the road extension east until it ends a few hundred yards from the saddle. The road extension is not shown on maps.

Continue east along the ridge until you get to Pt. 4840+ west of Lake Tupso. From Pt. 4840+ you want to follow the largely open or modestly forested ridge for 1.5 miles all the way to the summit. En route, you will pass over Pt. 5400+ south of Lake Louise and Pt. 5440+ east of Lake Louise. The ridge walk there will be very open and scenic. The main summit of Illabot will be to the north across the head of Bluebell Creek.

As you near Pt. 5600 west of the summit begin contouring right to the 5,520+ ft saddle. The saddle has some small gendarmes in it so you may have to stay on the south side.

West Ridge Completion

Note: See this section on the Northwest Approach Route page for access to thumbnails of annotated pictures.

When the ridge toward the main summit finally steepens and exfoliates a few hundred feet below the top, trend down and right to a short dirt traverse/gully leading to snags (dead scrub pines) at the south foot of the buttress. Possibly a small cairn here. Step over the snags then cross another depression eastward for 40 feet (look for a piece of orange flagging in this depression) to a diminutive rock crest with a deep south-draining gully on the other side. Go left (upward) and do one Class 4 step (two moves) or possibly take a ledge into the gully (unpleasant tree bushwhack in the gully). From the step, climb up 20-30 more feet to a small buttress. You can go right into the gully but it involved another uncertain move. Instead, go left (west) around the buttress back up to the ridge crest. Turn right (east) and scramble over rocks and through trees to the final notch (the top of the deep gully). Now, a wide ledge can be taken rightward from the notch to the south side of the final summit, which is now only 20 vertical feet above you. From the summit, the completion from the end of this ledge looked to entail a little bit of Class 4. There is a route to the left from the notch. It leads to a slabby depression on NW side of summit. Climb the Class 4 slabs for 15 feet (small foot and fingerhold ledges on slabs). The rest is easy to the top. Reverse the route on the return.

Time: 3 hours from car give or take an hour depending on route-finding success
Gain: 2200 ft (more ups and downs likely versus NW approach)
Difficulty: Some steep forest and/or open meadow; rock scrambling with a few Class 4 moves but beware of lurking Class 5

Essential Gear

A helmet might be nice if climbing with others
Ice axe in early season
Crampons if icy

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

SW Approach to West Ridge

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