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Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Main Cowlitz Chimney

Wonderfull day completing 3 peaks: Banshee, Main-Cowlitz and Central Cowlitz.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Parked at Fryingpan Creek TH.  Hiked about 6 miles on the Wonderland Trail up to Pan Handle Gap.  Trail in excellent condition.  Last water source is about 1/4 mile below Pan Handle Gap. Off trail route easy to follow. Once in awhile will catch a boot path, but not consistent.  There was still some smoke in the area, but nothing like it was a couple days earlier.  We had mix clouds and even blue sky on our way out. 

The 5 of us met at 5:30am at the TH.  Started hiking at 5:45 with just enough light we did not need to use our headlamps. Arrived at the Summerland Shelter at 7:25 and to Pan Handle Gap at 8:30.  Filled up our water bottles just below Pan Handle Gap.  No other water source once you get off the Wonderland Trail.  Easy stroll up to Banshee arriving at 9:20.  Took 20 minute break there and then continued down and across to the Base of Cowlitz-Main. 

Had numerous reports on the route description which made it easiy see the Lone Fir tree and the Fence of Trees as landmarks.  At the very end of the Fence of Trees is where you start the traverse directly across.  Here we put our harnesses on and took the rope out.  I was belayed across the traverse. When you reach the dead tree branch is where you turn to go up. Work your way breifly through the trees and you will see the alcove and then just to your left you will see the short low 5th class move up and over the chokestone.  On the traverse, I felt there was only one or two steps that was a bit sketchy  do to the exposure, but the rest of the traverse had good hand and foot placements.  The chokestone took a bit of effort to get over only because there is little to no hand holds on the right side.   Right above the chokestone you will see a rappel station. Two newer looking webbing with two rap rings on it.  I secured the handline here and had everyone else prusik across.  I then belayed the last person across. We dropped our rope and some gear here and continued striaght up. This area had very loose rock so be careful of people below you.   Once up a bit you traverse slightly left and work your way to the ridgeline and then you head down and back up a bit. You can easily see a boot path across.  Look for the notch located about 11 oclock position if you are standing near the ridge.  This is the notch you need to go through. It is somewhat of a steep section to go up.  You will see a few cairns along the way.  Once through the notch it is straight up from there and a bit to climbers left.  We reached the summit at 12:20.  A brand new summit register was recently placed up there.  Who ever took that up, Thank You. 

We took about half hour on the summit looking across through the smoke haze and some clouds that were rolling in.  We then worked our way back down to the rappel station located just above the chokestone.  Here we used our 60 meter rope and rappeled straight down to where you can start scrambling.  The 60 meter rope just reached the base, but the ground is slightly slanted with a few loose rocks, which made it a little awkward to get off of rappel and scramble to a flatter area.  From here we worked our way to the saddle between Banshee and Central. Arriving there at 2:55pm.  Dropped our packs and scrambled to the summit of Central. Reaching the summit at 3:16pm.

 From the saddle we started back to the car at 3:45pm.   We reached the Summerland Shelter at 5:50pm and made it back to the car by 7:25pm.  We felt doing all three summits was very doable if you start early. We all were actually surprised to make it back before dark.  This was a very enjoyable trip with a great group of people.