Mount Pilchuck
May 11, 2019
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Sam has been asking to see what I do with my weekends for a while now. To show her I thought the hike of Mount Pilchuck over the weekend would be a good intro. Based on trip reports, the snow conditions looked acceptable. The day’s weather was shaping up to be perfect for a view. Unfortunately, I underestimated how difficult the climb can be when snow-covered.

The day started out excellent and, at least for the first mile, was completely snow-free. It was after this that the snow began in earnest. It wouldn’t have been awful save for the fact that it is a popular hike and all the people had been packing it down. The trail was more ice than it was snow. I am glad that we started early so that we could take it slow. I gave Sam my micro-spikes and poles so she could balance and we kept on moving

three fingers and mount dickerman from the summit
three fingers and dickerman
sam and mount pilchuck from the route
sam and mount pilchuckl

The worst part of the day came at the point where the trail wraps around Mount Pilchuck. During summer there are switchbacks in this area making it a breeze. But, when we came upon the area we found the switchbacks replaced with a sudden turn uphill through the brush. Sam does not have experience in the outdoors other than the times I have taken her out. So, I was taken by surprise when she said “let’s go for it”. If you are not experienced and meet the same conditions you may want to turn back.

She gave it her all and made it up without any issue (some help required). I was quite proud of her for the determination she showed and her gumption to go for it. After the small scramble section the hike up Mount Pilchuck is simple. It was a wide track to follow the rest of the way.

winter trail up pilchuck goes vertical
tough section of trail
the winter trail above near the lookout
winter trail

Once at the top the lookout wasn’t open but it was free of snow and had a good view of the North Cascades. I was able to point out for her all the volcanoes that I have climbed, and show her Glacier Peak. That one I finally managed to climb this year and complete Washington’s volcanoes.

glacier peak seen from the lookout tower
glacier peak from the lookout
view east mount pilchuck summit
view east from mount pilchuck

On the way down she had some trouble with the snow and so I decided it was time to show her glissading. It took a couple of minutes to convince her to sit down in the snow. Once she did, I gave her a push and the sounds of joy started immediately. I could tell her favorite part of hiking Mount Pilchuck was the way back down.

I am glad we took the trip, and very proud of her for making it. But, if you are not experienced with snow travel you may want to wait for a time when the snow has melted back. Then the trail to the top of Mount Pilchuck is a steep well-marked hike

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