Overview of Victoria's Secret
Cashmere Lake Victoria Route
Shh! Don't tell anybody but there's a secret, easy, permit-less and direct route up Cashmere. In Summer and Fall most people climb Cashmere from Lake Caroline spiraling up Cashmere's West shoulder and weaving through class 3+ gendarmes making it a 2 day venture or very long day. But in Winter and Spring when the bridge to the Stuart Lake TH is gated and you're still destined for the summit, Victoria's Secret might be the right choice provided you hit that with the right conditions when the mountain has enough snow cover. It gains 6,500' but in only 4.6 miles making it a much shorter climb. An abandoned trail shoots to Lake Victoria but is very over grown, braided and littered with downed trees and burn areas. This route is best done with plenty of snow so it is kind of a seasonal route, although summer may be possible, there will be much more loose rock and cataracts to deal with. The final slopes up the NW Face are a fun snow climb that cut all the scrambling out of the equation. This route is also very popular for ski touring although attaining the summit beyond the 8,000' col will depend upon avalanche conditions. On dry years the first few thousand feet will be brushy and the brush is full of ticks and mites so after doing Victoria's Secret you may need to strip your clothes and check yourself out. Otherwise, the route is simply fabulous!
If coming from the Puget Sound for this long ride, don't be afraid to take in the views as you go.
Misty Stickney from US 2 in Goldbar
Index and Persis from Index Road off US 2
From Seattle take either the SR 520 or I-90 to Northbound I-405 and follow it 12.9 miles it exit 23 onto WA 522 East to Wenatchee. WA 522 merges into US 2 in Monroe. Take US Highway 2 East for 85 miles to Leavenworth and take a right onto Icicle Creek Road which is right next to the first gas station. Follow Icicle Creek Road 12.4 miles (or about 4.1 miles beyond Bridge Creek Campground) and a bridge across the creek will be on your Left. Park before the bridge in a manner that allows passage of a vehicle or drive across the bridge taking the first right (straight) fork and stopping at the next fork parking out of the way of traffic. These roads are usually gated and signed that they are on private property. NFS owns easements on both roads so to technically access the route in a legal manner you must walk Southeast about a mile along the Left fork looking uphill to the right for pink flagging that will indicate the overgrown trail.
Trail head driving directions from Seattle
From the pink flagging tape marking the old trail where you leave the service road, head moderately steeply uphill through trees and thickets. You will probably lose the trail a few times but as long as you stick to the spine of the Southward trending North ridge you'll find it again. After 2,000' or so a burn area will provide some views and logs will make travel through the brush less obnoxious (although possibly more hazardous). From experience, I can say this part of the ascent closely resembles the Northeast ridge of Cannon Mountain to the East.
Snowy drainage into Lake Victoria
When you arrive at 5,000' elevation, begin a level traverse towards Lake Victoria's drainage creeks, seeking out the path of least resistance between small bluffs and steep duff. Icy conditions will make this a bit more spicy but if you choose carefully or go with more snow it will not be an issue. The drainage weaves slowly towards the lake making abrupt gains and leveling out repeatedly until arriving at the lake's North shore. From here, if the lake is frozen enough, you can walk across the ice to its South shore, or scramble along its Western edge which will certainly be time consuming. The lake probably thaws enough to be questionable by mid-April most years. During the Winter it should be fine but you cross at your own risk. If going for it, the key is to stay away from the shores where the ice is weaker. On the other side of the lake the snow climb begins right away and ascends an obvious gully on the middle right. Assess the snow here for safety and watch for ice. At about 7,500' the angle lessens and you get your first view of the final summit slopes as well as West Cashmere.
Lake Victoria route to upper basin
Cashmere NW face
There are many gulleys up Cashmere's NW face and it is mainly up to you to choose which one to take. Most options will have a small cliff half way down the run-out so make sure you're ice-axe skills are good and the snow solid or choose the far left gulleys which run harmlessly all the way into a small basin. With a decent enough snow-cover, there should be no scrambling necessary and just a 45° snow-climb to reach the final summit rocks. Topping out on the gully I chose necessitated a few yards of traversing East to find an easy ramp to the summit.
Matt Lemke on the 45° snow ramp
Josh Lewis has a snack near the summit
It's possible to join the West Ridge route from the 8,000' col, but not recommended in Winter or Spring due to the rime covered nature of the rock. There are some mixed options on the South and NE Face but I'll leave that up to someone else. The final rocks are an easy walk, though some ice may inspire a little caution. If desired, following the Standard West Ridge route back down from the 8,000' col is fairly easy with snow-cover.
Cashmere Summit Panorama
Matt Lemke approaches the 8,000' col near West Cashmere
Cashmere SW face and moon rise
Ida Creek Campground is only a mile away to the West if you need an early start or come back late and too tired to drive. This may or may not be an option depending on how far the Icicle Creek Road is drivable. Bridge Creek campground itself is usually accessible year-round but that would require a 4 mile walk in addition to the 4.6 of the route (still a few miles shorter than the standard route). Camping there requires a day use fee of $5 per vehicle/day pass or a Recreation Pass.
Ice-ax and crampons. Snowshoes if heavy snow or skis for some prime touring. Have a map and compass or GPS handy with the navigation skills to use them.
Wenatchee River Ranger District:
Leavenworth, WA 98826
Original Route Beta from local Outdoor org
Northwest Avalanche Center
Wenatchee NFS road conditions