Mt Ellinor, Olympic Range, March 2010

Kevin and I climbed Mt Ellinor on March 27, 2010.

Click here for my road condition report from March 26th

Mt Ellinor is a relatively small peak (~5700 feet) that makes for a great Spring alpine day-hike.
After a very mild winter, the lower trailhead (~2600 feet) was accessible, even in my Honda.
Despite threatening clouds and gloomy forecasts, the weather held the whole day, allowing us to summit in the mid-afternoon.
Click to enlarge

The route can be broken up into four distinct sections:

  • The Lower Ridge, a trail through old-growth forest that climbs about 1800 feet in a little less than 2 miles.
  • The Bench, a relatively flat sub-alpine section above the headwall of the Big Creek (North Fork) drainage.
  • The Chute, a narrow chute that climbs about 900 feet vertically in a quarter mile.
  • The Upper Ridge, a quarter mile long alpine cirque and ridge that climbs about 500 feet to the summit.

    All photos link to larger versions

    The Lower Ridge

    The beginning of the trail was snow-free and easy hiking through beautiful Hemlock forest.

    Fairly compact and slippery snow covered the trail at about 3000 feet.
    Although it was nice and sunny, in the forest it seemed to be raining as the snow and ice melted from the forest canopy.

    The Bench

    By the time we reached the Bench, we were in fairly deep and fresh snow that was getting softer by the minute.
    The Bench is in the transition to the sub-alpine. The trees opened up to grant us some great Olympic vistas.

    From the bench, we got our first view of the Chute.

    Yours truly


    Get out the ice axes! It's time to get psyched up!

    The Chute

    From near the base of the chute, you can only see about half-way up.

    The snow, by now soft and heavy, made for a pretty grueling climb. We were post-holing up to our knees fairly frequently.

    Once we climbed through the 'hourglass' about half-way up, we could see the rest of the Chute above us.

    Kevin took this photo (and the next one) of me hauling myself over the last few feet to the top. Whew!

    An hour or so later, we slid down the Chute, all at once, losing 800 feet or so in a few thrilling minutes.
    (Dan, we missed ya buddy!)

    The Upper Ridge

    At the top of the chute, we found ourselves in a small cirque. The summit was visible to the west (left).
    Click and enlarge, it's worth it!

    After suiting up for the cold wind, we continued to climb.
    We were treated to gorgeous views of Mt Washington to the east as we climbed out of the cirque.

    Once we gained the summit ridge, we could see deep into the Olympics.

    The summit ridge.

    The last push to the top.

    The Summit

    The summit was windy and glorious. The view was awesome, even as the clouds were rolling in from the Pacific.
    This is a panorama that Kevin took from the summit.
    Click and enlarge, it's worth it!

    All in all, a great climb and a great day.