Joined: 06 May 2007 Posts: 174 | TRs | Pics Location: The highest point in front of my PC
Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:15 pm
What non-volcanic peak in the Cascades has the greatest topographic prominence? The answer, I was surprised to learn, is Silvertip Mountain; not the one near Monte Cristo, but the 8517 ft one in BC, halfway between Hope and Ross Lake. Another surprising thing about Silvertip is that it has relatively good access both from the north, via the Sumallo River Road off of highway 3, and from the south, using the Silver-Skagit Road. The north side route allows you to drive to 3500 ft elevation and only 2 horizontal miles from the summit but involves some slide-alder bushwhacking and several thousand feet of steep scrambling on very unstable rock; the south side route is a straightforward ridge ascent but starts at only 2000 ft elevation and thus is a hefty 6500 ft of gain. So pick your poison.
In early June 2011 Greg and Edward and I picked the north side approach and we made it to within 300 ft of the summit before being turned around by high avalanche danger and managed to escape the north face rockfall barrage without serious injury.
I returned this past weekend with Redwic for a try at the south side route. We drove up Saturday evening (3.5 hrs from Seattle) and car-camped at the end of a spur road at the base of the SW ridge. To get there, drive 22.2 miles from the point where you turn off the Flood-Hope road onto the Silver-Skagit road; the spur you want is the second left turn after the Maselpanic Creek Road branches off to the right.
Knowing we had a full day ahead of us we started out well before sunrise and began picking our way up the brushy clear cut a the start of the ridge by headlamp. (This brush patch is infested with ticks in the springtime. I found this out the hard way during an earlier reconnaissance.) As the brush patch narrowed into a stream bed we worked our way left and followed bits of trail and flagging up and left onto the ridge; from there we just ground out the elevation up the ridge until we popped out of the forest at 6000 ft and the ridge steepened abruptly. From there we traversed right on some goat tracks and meadows to the stream in the center of the basin SW of Silvertip, the only water source on this route. Then up to the broad ridge west of the peak and pleasant walking up to the false summit. Probably the trickiest bit of the climb was getting around this false summit at 7900 ft Ė look for a ledge system about 40 ft below the top, along the south side. Itís no more than easy class 3 but a bit exposed. From there the summit is an easy scramble, mainly on loose scree. The actual crest of the west ridge offers more solid rock but when the climbing gets difficult thereís always an easier way on the scree out on the south slope. We spent a half our lounging on the summit, basking in the sunshine and views and enjoying the fact that all the smoke from the eastern Washington fires was well to the south of us. We returned the way we came, but itís always more difficult navigating down an indistinct ridge than up it so we found the GPS to be a valuable tool.
Stats: 6700 ft of gain, 7 miles, 10.3 hours car-to-car.
Gear: GPS, strong quads.
Craig put together a great summitpost page for Silvertip with lots more info.
-------------- Your head is there to move you around
- REM, "Stand"
Joined: 23 Feb 2009 Posts: 3156 | TRs | Pics Location: On Hiking Hiatus
Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:52 pm
So what is Silvertip's prominence?
Silvertip Mountain has 6089' of clean prominence. Most people would probably guess that Mount Stuart is the most prominent non-volcanic peak in the Cascade Mountain range, but Mount Stuart only has 5354' of clean prominence.
-> Silvertip Mountain is the 35th-most prominent peak in British Columbia.
-> Located only approximately 10 miles north of Washington, Silvertip Mountain is the closest Canadian ultra-prominence peak to the contiguous USA border.
-> To put things in perspective a little more, if the Washington border extended northward only 10-12 miles to include Silvertip Mountain, then the peak would be the sixth-most prominent peak in Washington and 25th-most prominent peak in the contiguous USA. Yowsers, there are a lot of very prominent peaks in BC!
Thanks, Martin! I had a great time!
This peak was a long time coming, for both of us. I had been in correspondence about Silvertip Mountain with multiple people, both in Washington and British Columbia, for the past few years. Martin and I both helped to coordinate for last year's trip but I had other commitments when Martin, Greg, and Edward made their first attempt. Edward returned with another friend (Duane) two months later and was successful via the same (northwest) route he previously attempted. I'm glad that Martin and I did this peak together, tried a different approach (southwest ridge, which proved to be the safest route option), and that we could remove this peak from Martin's list of failed attempts.
This was my favorite summit trip of the year, for a variety of reasons.
In addition, we had found limited useful information available to the masses for this peak (probably due to the fact it is only attempted a few times per year at most), so I am very glad we can possibly help future summiters with our gathered photos and descriptions.
-------------- "Revolutions are not overnight. The heightist mindset has minimally a 100 year head start. Eventually the climbing community will embrace prominence." -Adam Helman
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