Snowfield Peak/Neve Glacier

A steep and strenuous approach leads to exposed 3rd class scrambling to the summit. The scenery and views from camp to summit are usually described as "SPECTACULAR". Good scramble skills required. Many reports of bugs. Times: 4-6 hr trailhead to camp, 4-6 hr camp to summit.


Take I-5 to just north of Mount Vernon, then go east on SR-20 (North Cascades Highway) to Marblemount. Sign in at Ranger Station. Drive about seven mi past Newhalem to the Pyramid Lake Trailhead (1,150 ft).


Follow the trail to Pyramid Lake. Find a climbers' trail bordering the west side of the lake. The trail trends south to gain the ridge (make a note of where the lake trail intersects with the ridge trail as this intersection is easily missed on the return).

Follow the ridge southwest to reach the treeline and good campsites at around 5,400 ft. There are also good campsites at 5,900 ft (on snow) if the party has sufficient energy, or spectacular ones in Colonial Basin (one hour further than the 5,400 ft camp). Unless one is willing to camp on the glacier, tent sites are harder to find than bivy spots in early season; later, the rim of the basin is beach sand and polished rock.


From 5,400 ft camp, follow climbers trail up slabs to 5,800 ft col and drop 150 ft into basin to reach the Colonial glacier. Proceed south to the pass at 6,800+ ft. Cross the Névé Glacier to the ridge just west of the summit of Snowfield and scramble easily up west ridge.

Around 8,200 ft, traverse left about 100 ft into obvious, northwest facing gully. Scramble up gully about 50-100 ft (about half way). Traverse left, onto arête, go up about 75 ft (to where it steepens below pinnacle). Traverse left, then up on north side about 150 ft to notch between pinnacle and summit. Go up ridge 20 ft, then traverse right on ledges to gully on south side of summit. Follow easy gully about 150 ft to summit.


At notch, make a couple 4th class moves to the south (above deep gully). Scramble to the summit.


Descend the climbing route.


Trailhead to Camp 4-6 4,300
Camp to Summit 4-6 3,000
Summit to Camp 3-4
Camp to Trailhead 3


Standard glacier equipment.


This is a pleasant outing in a beautiful area with a strenuous and steep approach. The climber's trail up from Pyramid Lake is fairly brushy. Many parties choose to spend a third day in the vicinity and climb other peaks such as Colonial and Pinnacle.

One leader reports: Everyone agreed that the effort of reaching the 5,900 ft high camp was worth the reward. This is STILL one of the MOST SPECTACULAR places I've ever camped.

The glacier may be quite broken up in late season. Look for (and beware of) the large sinkholes in the glacier of Colonial Basin, which drain meltoff.

North Cascades National Park has a party limit of six in this area.

  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Basic Alpine
  • Seasons: June, July, August, September
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Basic Glacier Climb, Technical 2, Strenuous 4
  • Length: 16.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 7,500 ft
  • 8,347 ft
  • USGS Diablo Dam
  • USGS Ross Dam
  • Green Trails North Cascades Ross Lake No. 16SX
  • Green Trails Diablo Dam No. 48
Trip Reports
Mountaineers Beta & Brews: Less Traveled Basic Alpine Routes

A link to the YouTube video of The Mountaineers Beta & Brews: Less Traveled Basic Alpine Routes presented May 26, 2020. The Snowfield Peak segment by Garrett Arnold is the first segment.

Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.