Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Robinson Mountain

A beautiful day's strenuous outing with views all around

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Two years ago my failed attempted Robinson was on a wet day with only occasional glimpses of the surroundings.  We turned around after 5000' of elevation gain, seeing no chance that the weather would improve.  This trip had a nearly ideal amount of snow on a dry sunny day.  Make no mistake - this is a T5 scramble with considerable exposure.  But at least on this day the snow helped limit rockfall hazards, and the well known "knife edge" ridge was quite fun, with easy solid holds for feet and hands.

There's only a couple of miles from pavement's end to the Ballard Campground where we stayed overnight before our scramble.  It wasn't yet fully open/maintained, but the pit toilets were open and there was no camping fee!  The air quality was intermittently worsened by smoke from spots of controlled burning in the area, but only when the wind blew in the wrong direction.

There's just a short walk from the CG to the trailhead.  Our small party started up the trail fairly early as we didn't know how long the upper section might take to climb.  We made steady progress, stopping about every 1500 vertical feet for a short break.  It was a joy to have a dry walk with comparatively little brush compared to the previous attempt.  On the climber's trail- there was some intermittent snow that was fairly hard in the early morning.  We managed with our hiking sticks, though there were a couple of places that possibly warranted some kind of additional traction.  Once past the unbridged crossing of Robinson Creek, the meadow was loaded with glacier lilies and spring beauties.  About half way up the meadow we came upon continuous snow cover.   It was thick enough that we had very little postholing.  The tarn was mostly snow covered, with uncertain boundaries, so we were glad that we had enough water that we didn't need to get more there.  After a brief rest break we plotted our ascent of the S ridge (the SE ridge having a lot of bare scree).  The best place took a westward traverse to a fairly obvious low point on the rocky ridge.


Once on the ridge there was relatively little snow, though with fringes that looked enticing but were often the tops of cornices.  The rock was frequently badly broken up in the style we experience frequently in these mountains.  Rockfall hazard was limited in part by our small party size and also by our route which mostly stayed near the top of the ridge spine.

We kept thinking that our progress was going to really slow down when we got to the hard parts.  We did slow somewhat, particularly in getting to the steep ascent.  There is a gash in the ridge line immediately before this crux.  I think that some have descended climber's left and then ascended a "dirty gully".  We managed to drop just a little going left, then hug the cliffy face rightward without losing too much elevation. While there were fairly good holds, it felt more exposed than the "knife edge" that followed.  Once over that barrier, the remaining ascent was easy.  The views all around were stunning, making us so grateful that the skies was so clear.robi00-011.jpgIt hadn't taken as long as we'd feared.  We had plenty of time to descend safely after all.  We were careful but comfortable descending the crux face-out without a rope belay.  It would have been difficult to protect the transition by the dirty gully with the limited pro I was carrying.  Our strong small party ascended in a little over 6 hours, and descended in under 4 hours, for a 10.5 TH-TH time with our half-hour summit stay.  That's for 6300' of vertical and 14mi round trip.  If I had it to do over again, I'd probably have gone a bit slower and taken some more photos.  Still, even half-way down we could see that the skies were becoming cloudy.  By the time we got to the campground little blue remained.


Flora and fauna: besides what was mentioned earlier: several deer, one coyote; balsamroot, monks-hood, chocolate lily, serviceberry, paintbrush, and many more I didn't have time to examine more closely.  And at least one (likely rodent) that ate one of my sneaker's shoelaces while I was asleep at the campground.

Gear: ice ax, helmet, mountaineering boots, microspikes.  Brought, but didn't need/use: rope & limited pro.