Granite Mountain (I-90)

October 27, 2017


Snoqualmie Pass / I-90 Corridor, WA

There are a few peaks named “Granite Mountain” in Washington state. This is a popular one just to the west of Snoqualmie Pass along I-90 Corridor. Most friends of mine in Vancouver do not have a clue about anything down in that corridor but among the Seattle locals this area is equivalent as the North Shore to Vancouver. Granite Mountain has a large open slope and a (relatively) tall summit elevation with fantastic 360-degree panorama and meanwhile the ascent is nothing fancier than a on-trail hike. From any aspect this seems like a legitimate introductory objective.

The main reason I picked Granite Mountain was that I had about half a day to kill. The primary objective was Mt. Daniel but doing so wouldn’t require a full stretch of 2 days but then I also didn’t want to waste the extra time. Remember, time means money in this nowadays world. After browsing the maps back-and-forth I eventually locked my eyes on the Snoqualmie Pass area and some simple research drew me to this particular objective. Figured that based on my fitness I could have easily killed this one in under 4 hours but to not burn myself out I’d drive down there in the previous night to catch a couple extra hours of sleep. The border crossing was terrible as the Americans only opened one lane. That was totally fucked up that I ended up waiting for almost an hour in the gong show. Thankfully the rest of the drive down to I-90 was a fluent process and my iPhone then successfully directed me to the parking lot.

Granite Mountain hiking route. GPX DL

The next morning I did not bother to wake up super early. Much of this ascent would be on a trail so the footwear I chose was the pair of Nike runners. I also carried my oversized winter hiking shoes in case I ran into snow on the last parts. That pair of shoes are terrible for giving me blisters but for a brief use I still had my trust in them, so then up I went. After a few longish switchbacks this trail brought me to the end of a huge avalanche gully/path and then did a ton of short switchbacks up the west (left) edge with some rocky eroded steps. About halfway up the peak the trail crosses this gully and then did a long rising traverse due east (right) into the alpine.

The boring forested section of this trail.

Pretty soon the trail crossed into an avalanche path

Crossing this path way up high.

Somewhere along that long rising traverse section

This peak is pretty good for its meadows

Into the alpine. Note the fall colours.

A few more short, but shallow switchbacks later the trail joins a broad ridge feature but then traverses into a gulch due north heading to a broad “saddle” on the east ridge. Up until here I was hiking in a high alpine meadows with incredible views but over to the north side of that saddle things changed dramatically. There’s a sudden increase in snow and ice which forced me to change my footwear and meanwhile the trail enters some thick forest. The views did not open up until the summit lookout. The summit was windy as hell so I did as little lingering as possible.

There’s still a bit of height to gain. The aim is the skyline.

There is a reason why it’s named “Granite Mountain”

Hitting snow now…

The summit is in sight but still a bit of work left

Looking down the east ridge from near the top

Partial Summit Panorama from Granite Mountain. Click to view large size.

Partial Summit Panorama from Granite Mountain. Click to view large size.

Mt. Defiance looks like a nice viewpoint

Kaleetan Peak and Chair Peak looking north

The height of Snoqualmie – Chimney Rock et al. and Snoqualmie Mountain (L)

A closer look at Chair Peak

Kaleetan Peak… You know what that means if I took a shot of like

The volcano Glacier Peak with Bryant Peak in front

Big Snow Mountain with The Tooth in front

Chimney Rock with Mt. Thomson in front

Mt. Stuart is visible on the skyline

This is a full northern view with Tuscohatchie Lake and Crystal Lake in foreground

The western I-90 Corridor isn’t impressive at all….

Mt. Rainier doesn’t need much introduction

An unobstructed view of Mt. Rainier.

Me on the summit of Granite Mountain

The uppermost reach was a bit slippery so caution had to be taken but then once the snow ran out the rest was just a cruise-sailing. I thought about switching to runners but kept the winter shoes on as they worked better on the rocky trail. They never gave me blisters this time which I don’t really know why but I won’t complain.

An early taste of snow always excites me


Fall colours..

One last picture about this descent.

As much as an introductory to Snoqualmie Pass area I think Granite Mountain is hard to beat for its view-to-effort ratio. Highly recommended no matter what you are up for but the most memorable for me was actually the jagged peaks further north that caught my interest.