white chuck mountain (6989')
8/14/2020

White Chuck mountain is one of those peaks that is obscure to most. It is difficult to see from anywhere “on the ground”, but, if you get up high enough on any major peaks in the area it is prominent.

From the summit register, summits look rare. But, it is not the least climbed peak in the area. After climbing it, I would guess the very long road to the peak is why no one goes up there often. This has led to a broader perception that it is hardly ever climbed.

In fact, when I stopped at Rivertime Brewing afterward, a patron proclaimed to me “no one ever climbs that, you clearly didn't”. I just chuckled and drank my beer.

Clearly that patron was wrong and if you want to climb White Chuck Mountain, prepare to drive more than you will climb for the day. From Darrington, it is around 14 miles of rough dirt roads. All told, even in my 4WD SUV, it was around an hour and a half to reach the trailhead. It was not the best drive, but, not the worst in the area either. Pinnacle Lake takes home that award.

My biggest navigation challenge for the day was figuring out where the trail is. From where google maps had me drive to, all it looks like is a dead end. There is a random fire pit and some brush there, but from afar, nothing that appears to be a trail. If you have the same moment of pause that I did, walk to the dead end and a trail will become obvious when you get to the brush.

For the first few hundred feet the trail up White Chuck Mountain is a little difficult to follow. But, it does open up as it winds along the ridge and becomes very easy to follow. Enjoy the first mile as it is pretty well flat.

Once you reach the large open basin, the fun begins. The trail appears to peter out, but, look hard and follow the faint boot path that heads up the gulley. At the time of this writing, there is a cairn marking where you leave the gulley. Either way, there is a clear end to where it is easy to walk. Head right, scramble across a few slabs, and the trail up White Chuck Mountain is easy to pick back up.

From this point on there is not much that you will need to think about. There is one spot where the trail seems to vanish again, and I made the mistake of heading left. That got me into a situation where I was doing some 4th class scrambling along the upper ridge line. I was not the only person who had made the error since I found a rock ring that looked like a bivy size. So, at least one other person came this way.

If you are going the right way, following the ridge contour, you may need to use hands once. For most careful walking should do it on White Chuck and the trail is nice and clear.

I thought I was slow for the day and was surprised to see that I had only taken 2 hours to summit White Chuck Mountain. Excellent climb, but the 3 hour RT drive on the dirt road kind of ruins the allure for me. Plenty of other peaks that are easier to drive to in the area like Mount Pugh. Same view, faster drive…