Whittier (in distance) from Jonathan-Photo coutesy of Klenke
Whittier Peak is the second highest mountain on the famed Poet's Ridge in Glacier Peak Wilderness. It is striking from the top of the Poe Mountain
trail, and its remoteness ensures that it is climbed by only a handful of parties each year. The trip to Whittier puts you into the heart of great wilderness. In fact, you will be passing through two different wilderness areas. Poets Ridge forms the boundary between Henry M. Jackson Wilderness in the west, and Glacier Peak Wilderness in the east. So you will begin your climb in the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness, but summit in Glacier Peak Wilderness.
An ascent of Whittier can be combined (over multiple days) with that of the entire Poet's Ridge, including Bryant Peak
, Whittier, Longfellow
, Poe Mountain
, and Irving Peak
. Additionally, the unusual perspective of this area offers unique views of Glacier Peak, the Dakobed Range, and the Monte Cristo Peaks. This is a long, hard day, but the rewards really are great.
Technically, it is a moderate scramble, with some class 3 on loose rock gaining the summit ridge. The real challenge, however, is the elevation gain. With ups and downs, you will gain over 6,000 feet in the 14-mile round trip from the car.
Whittier from Saddle
Once on top of the summit ridge, it's an easy scramble to the summit.
Driving US-2 East from Everett, turn left to Lake Wenatchee (19 miles from Stevens Pass). Pass the state park road, and continue to Lake Wenatchee Ranger Station and 1.5 miles beyond to a junction. Go left on Little Wenatchee River road No. 65 for 14.5 miles to its end near Little Wenatchee Ford Campground.
Take the Poe Mountain Trail 3 miles, gaining 3000 feet to gain the ridge. Turn left (north) on the Poet's Ridge Trail, traversing north below the cliffs of Longfellow
. The trail drops nearly 800 feet north of Longfellow.
After dropping the 800 feet, the trail begins to climb again through trees. Again, the trail will lose another 200 feet in elevation, skirting cliffs to the east. Once beyond the cliffs, leave the trail, and climb straight east to reach a saddle. Drop over the other side into a large basin, losing another 500 feet in the process. Traverse the basin to reach cliffs guarding the northwest ridge of Whittier Peak. This will be the crux of the climb. Find the easiest route through the cliffs, which will be mainly class 3. If you're encountering too much Class 4, you're off route. In general, the easiest routes to the top of the ridge are lower down away from the summit. After gaining the summit ridge, scramble easily to the summit. A strong party will require one very long day (12-14 hours) to complete the climb. Warning: Beckey's guide says to just run the ridge between Longfellow and Whittier. He has obviously never climbed the peak, as this is an impractical route to the summit.
Time from car to summit: 7-8 hours
Difficulty: Mainly Class 2. Class 3 gaining summit ridge, with Class 4 in places.
Elevation gain: About 6,000 feet with ups and downs
Roundtrip time: About 12-14 hours
Roundtrip distance: 12 miles
Red Tape and Camping
Class 3 gully to summit Ridge from basin
Whittier Peak peaking up above Poets Ridge
Traversing Back South
The actual summit is quite airy.
A trail park pass ($30/year, $5 daily) is required by the U.S. Forest Service to park at the trailhead. An interagency pass, good at all US National Parks ($80/year) can also be used to park at the trailhead. A free Wilderness permit , available on a self-service basis at the trailhead, is required to enter Henry M. Jackson Wilderness and Glacier Peak Wilderness.
The road will be closed in the winter beyond Lake Wenatchee.
For further information, contact the U.S. Forest Service at:
U.S. Forest Service
Lake Wenatchee Ranger District
There are numerous "self-serve" campsites on the Little Wenatchee Road, available for a nominal fee. Be sure to arrive early on a Friday to find a spot.
In addition, camping is possible on Poet's Ridge or in the basin between the saddle and Whittier Peak. However, there is no water on Poet's Ridge, and any camping would have to take place before mid-July to take advantage of any snow banks.
As previously mentioned, this peak is infrequently climbed. In fact, when we climbed it (June of 2003), there was no summit register at all. One in our climbing party put one up the following week, writing in our names. As of last count, only a few names per year are entered into the register.
.When To Climb
TOPO! software image
The mountain is usually climbed between the months of May to September, although due to the amount of time required to climb the peak, the longer daylight of Spring/early Summer is preferable.
In addition, snow cover in the basin leading to Whittier's summit ridge makes traversing the basin much easier. A June scramble is ideal.
For snow conditions, contact the Lake Wentachee Recreation Club at:
Lake Wenatchee Recreation Club
Also, webcams are available from the Washington State Department of Transportation at:
Stevens Pass Web Cam