Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Mount Spickard/South Ridge & Mount Redoubt/South Face

4 day outing to Spickard and Redoubt. Successful summit of Spickard but we skipped Redoubt due to weather and shortened the trip to 3 days.

  • Road rough but passable
  • Lower snow pack than photos show from previous years this time of year.  But good conditions.


4 day 4th of July trip to Spickard and Redoubt.

I’ve read that you can get a permit by just calling in the day before to the Marblemount Ranger Station.  And the trail register when you get to the trailhead start at the US border says the same. But when I called the day before they said we had to show up in person at Sedro Woolley to get the permit.  So I wound up taking off early on Thur before the trip and driving there to get the permit.  The rangers at Sedro Woolley didn’t know what I was talking about and had to call somewhere else. Finally, someone somewhere else put a permit into the system and they printed it out.  Everyone else we’ve been hearing from who’ve done Spickard and Redoubt haven’t even bothered with permits…    Since you are driving into Canada then hiking back across the border into the US you are supposed to get permission from customs (you don’t find that out till you have actually hiked an hour or so into the climb to the US border crossing).  The rangers didn’t care that we were crossing back into the US and didn’t say anything about getting customs permission.  Wouldn’t surprise me if nobody has ever bothered to do so.

Weather forecast was looking marginal as we met at the park and ride at 5:30am and we considered if we should cancel or not. Decided to make a go at it as we thought we would have a 50/50 chance at good weather.

Took us 5 hours (with a 20min border crossing stop, a Subway stop and gas stop) to get parked at the trailhead. We stopped at the main parking spot where the road splits off and there is just enough room to turn around and park 2 vehicles as one couldn’t make it up the rest of the way that requires a high clearance vehicle.  Good thing too as there was a fallen tree across the trail halfway to the end of the drivable road and another party of 2 ahead of us parked on the side of the road up there.  When we returned though a road crew had come through and cut through the downed tree so you can make it now all the way to the end of the drivable road.

With all the branches hanging over that last stretch of road I’m going to have to get the scratches buffed out.  

Starting off we had a slight bit of rain but that didn’t last long. We also went a little too far down the trail and wound up doing some bushwhacking to get uphill about 150ft to the main trail.  There a couple paths up from the trail you first start hiking in on to get to the overgrown old road trail.  If you see some pink flagging take that path, or there’s another path further up in a flat rocky area of the trail you might spot a tiny cairn, take a left there and bushwhack a bit to hit a trail going uphill that intersects the upper trail.  

If you are on an old abandoned road that’s a bit overgrown heading toward the US border you are on the right track.  Old beta we read said something about the trail on the US side being much better.  Not so anymore.  Once you get to the US side it doesn’t look like there’s been any trail maintenance done in years.

From the trail register and the summit register on Spickard we only saw one other party of 2 that had signed anything since Sept last year.  That explained how much the overgrowth had come in and the bushwhacking that was to follow.

Lots of blowdowns to navigate over, under and around and you have to keep picking up the trail, easy to lose it in places. Also the trail was pretty overgrown in places requiring full body bushwhacking to plow through.  And usually involved nettles and devils club. We looked like we had been through a catfight by the end and stinging from head to toe.

Crossing the first creek involved walking along a branch over the water then getting up the waterfall was pretty straightforward, the rope handline and anchor looked in good shape, a rain shell or poncho helps keep you dry from the spray. On the descent we did setup a rappel considering how slick the rock was.

The rest of the route was pretty straightforward. Once you get to the final approach to the lake you can take a couple paths.  Either hug the creek and go up the boulders or another path can take you higher up which involves a lot more bushwhacking.  Take the lower path, but either will get you there.

It took us 9 hours from car to camp.

We decided to sleep in and do the easier Spickard the next morning.  Got rolling around 9am the next morning and took the late season route up a snow field and traversed over and up the other side. The soft snow took some work kicking steps all the way up but it’s a straight forward walk up. Took a lunch break at the top of the snowfields before popping over the col.  One of the party got pretty excited seeing a large wolf pack running around the slopes below us – sorry man, those are just goats.

Traversed over the other side to the final snowfield and went up, then had to move further right to the top right of the snowfield to gain the rock for the scramble.  We had taken up a rope, pickets and some light gear after reading about parties setting up a handline for an exposed section. We never found any need or place for a handline, it was a straight up easy rock scramble to the summit.  If the snow was hard and arresting would be difficult pickets may help in a couple spots where its steeper, but except for the very last section of the last snowfield before the rocks the runout was safe. We didn’t use any and didn’t rope up.

There were a few places on the way up with running water including up the final summit blocks if you need to refill.

After returning to camp we decided to get up at 4:30am for a 6am start for Redoubt.  But when we got up it was raining, windy and socked in.  Slept in a couple more hours and the rain had stopped but the summits were still socked in and pretty windy so we decided to break camp and get out a day early.

We figured the return trip would go faster but it still took us 8.5 hours out.   We made better time in the flats but the bushwhacking, blowdowns and setting up a rappel down the wet rock at the falls took some time.

Took us only 4 hours return trip home (1 stop for dinner and no wait at the border crossing).

The “day use only” marked road is still pothole hell. FYI – the locals were driving on the theory that if you go fast enough you will float above the potholes.  One caught some air on a pothole passing one of our vehicles and landed off the road close to the dropoff into the lake….

On the way out hit the TractorGrease, the first restaurant you run into on the lake road out coming out.  Awesome food, even if we hadn’t spent 3 days in the alpine.  Highly recommended.