Storm King/Southwest Route

One of Washington's 100 highest peaks and located in the North Cascades, its summit offers spectacular views of three neighbors: Buckner, Logan, and Goode. Most climbing traffic through the area is for Goode Mountain, which offers an aesthetic intermediate rock climb, the Northeast Buttress and a less aesthetic but popular technical route, the Southwest Route. The latter is commonly used to descend both routes on Goode, and it shares its route with Storm King below 7,400 ft.

getting there

From SR 20 or SR 2, drive SR 97 to Chelan.   Take the Lady of the Lake or Chelan Seaplanes to Stehekin.  From there a shuttle is available to take you the 11 miles to High Bridge Camp. 

APPROACH

Follow the road about 2 miles.  Look for a sign for the "Old Wagon trail/PCT" which bypasses a washout on the old road. Stay on this trail for 3 miles to Bridge Creek campground, or preferably, rejoin the road for the final mile.  After crossing the creek continue 2.5 miles to Park Creek campground and look for a sign for the Park Creek Pass Trail.  Take this trail for 2 miles to the Two Mile campground (3,400 ft).  There is a bear hang at the campground.  Alternatively continue 3 more miles to the Five Mile campground, which overshoots the turnoff for Storm King by 1 mile.

ASCENT ROUTE

Ascend the trail for approximately two miles (4,100 ft).  Cross a large washout area, and look uphill to spot the nose of the ridge you will ascend.  This is also where the burnout from the Goode Mountain fire begins.  Continue a few hundred yards past the stream below slide alder and rough terrain.  Look for a small cairn and head uphill off-trail. The goal is to obtain the ridge spied from the stream crossing.  There is a climber's trail up this ridge but there is a lot of ash, burnout and deadfall for well over 1,000-foot of the elevation gain.  As you climb, you'll begin to lose a trail and need to climb diagonally towards climber's left along heather, meadows and game trails.  Eventually the terrain will become rocky and steeper (~6,500 ft). Start looking for cairns that mark a Class 2-3 climber's trail up to a basin below Goode Mountain at 7,400 ft.   This would make an excellent high camp, but is strenuous to get to in one day.

Traverse across snow and talus bearing to  climber's left.  There may be a few tricky spots to get around if snow is lingering. An ice ax and crampons are recommended even into August.  After about a mile arrive under a cirque with the west and east towers of Storm King above.  Ascend a very loose talus slope, taking the path of least resistance.  At ~8,000 ft notice a gully with a horn-shaped rock at its top.  Avoid that one and instead veer right to the gully there.  Arrive at a notch and scramble about a bit and look at the ledge on the north side.  It is fairly exposed with a couple of Class 4 moves.  Some parties prefer to set up a short fixed line here. Continue on the ledge (it gets wider with more loose rock) until you are blocked by a cliff.  Turn left and scramble Class 3 for 70 feet or so to a notch.  Ascend a crack for 15 feet (Class 4 to low Class 5) and arrive at the rappel anchor. Follow Class 3 terrain to the summit a few feet higher.

DESCENT ROUTE

Just below the summit are a few slings around a boulder.  Check the anchor and reinforce as necessary.  Rappel off the east side of the mountain back to the ledge on the north side.  Even with a 60 m rope you will need to down climb some Class 3 terrain.

TRIP PROFILE

SEGMENTTIME (HOURS)ELEVATION GAIN (FEET)
Trailhead to Camp 4-5 2200
Camp to Summit 7-9 5100
Summit to Camp 4-6
Camp to Trailhead 4

EQUIPMENT

Standard rock climbing equipment, small alpine rock rack, ice ax and crampons.

NOTES

  • This climb is probably in shape from July through the first snows in October.  However, snow can linger into early August and cause some extra challenges between 7,400 ft and the summit.
  • The traverse on the north side is Class 3-4 and most parties will want to set up a fixed line.  The summit pitch is short but a fixed line or belay is recommended.
  • Due to round trip travel times this is best done as a three day climb.
  • This climb could be combined with a climb of Mount Logan/Fremont Glacier or Goode Mountain with an extra day.
  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Basic Alpine
  • Seasons: July, August, September
  • Weather: View weather forecast.
  • Difficulty: Basic Alpine Climb
  • Length: 27.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 6,800 ft
  • 8,520 ft
Map
  • Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park
  • Green Trails McGregor Mtn No. 81
  • USGS Mt Goode
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