The Brothers/Brothers Traverse

The Brothers Traverse is Grade III, 5.4, AI2 with snow up to 70°.

getting there

Take the ferry to Bremerton and drive via SR-3 and SR-106 to US-101 and turn right (or drive via Tacoma Narrows Bridge or I-5 via Olympia). Drive US-101 North along Hood Canal. 13.5 miles north of Hoodsport, turn left onto Hamma Hamma River Road (Forest Road 25). Drive 9.5 miles (0.5 miles past Phantom Creek) to Lena Lakes Trailhead (685 ft).


Hike Lena Lakes trail to Lower Lena Lake (3 mi), and around the lake clockwise to The Brothers climber’s trail. Follow this along East Fork of Lena Creek into Valley of Silent Men (see 100 Hikes map), crossing/recrossing creek. At 3.2 mi Lena Creek will fork, with a branch entering from the west cross to west bank of East Fork Lena Creek just upstream to reach Lena Forks camp, 3,000 ft, often crowded on weekends.


The traverse can be done in either direction but most parties opt for a North Peak to South Peak traverse. Locate the climbers path heading upstream west from Lena camp. Follow until the path becomes indistinct in a large meandering gully before reaching the base of South Brother’s South Couloir deposition fan. Snow may be present.

Climb up the South Couloir to just before its central constriction. Rocky slopes offer an exit right at approximately 5,000 ft to an open rocky slope (known as Lunch Rock — possible cairn) below a group of trees. From Lunch Rock, ascend broad, sparsely-treed tongue, initially paralleling the South Couloir (possible bivy sites), but gradually bear right and east to depart South Couloir climbing route.

At approximately 5,700 ft, traverse east, skirting under a yellow-stained rock nose, identifiable from below, and into a small basin above the first major chute east of South Couloir. Above this basin, a narrow couloir leads to a notch in the East Ridge at approximately 6,000 ft (possible cairn west of small tower splitting notch, not visible from basin itself). Pass through notch and descend into the Great Basin. Traverse to the North Brother, to where the ascent couloir faces southeast to east and has a prominent rock prow splitting its lower aspect. The couloir emerges on the ridge, with summit close to the right.

The ridge to South Brother is now visible with, in early season, much steep, exposed and sometimes corniced snow. A hundred or more feet of airy ridge lead to a rare gently-rounded section before descending steeply (some party members may want a belay) to a notch before a pinnacle. This gendarme’s east side can be passed where a flat spot below an outcrop is apparent, perhaps 100 ft below its top. From the base of the outcrop, climb and traverse steeply up to regain the ridge. An exposed short drop in the ridge, followed by a traverse west around a block, gains the final notch. A steep rock step (caution advised if wet from snow melt above) accesses the remaining snow/rock crest of South Brother’s North Ridge.


Descend via the South Brother South Couloir route.


Seattle to Trailhead 2
Trailhead to Camp 4 2,400
Camp to Summit 8-9 3,800
Camp to Trailhead 5-6


Ice ax, crampons, short picket, minimal rack.


Viewable from Seattle, this classic mountaineering climb is best done in early season (i.e., April or May) due to dense brush encountered later in gullies. Loose rock abounds. The climb is long, strenuous, and exposed but not technically difficult. Start early. Identifying the correct notch to the Great Basin is the chief route-finding challenge. Leaders should consider restricting party size to four.

  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Intermediate Alpine
  • Seasons: May, June
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Intermediate Mountaineering Climb
  • Elevation Gain: 6,200 ft
  • 6,866 ft
  • Land Manager: Olympic National Park
    The Brothers Wilderness
  • Parking Permit Required: National Park Entrance Fee
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
  • Green Trails The Brothers No. 168
  • USGS The Brothers
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