Mount Angeles

May 22, 2018


Port Angeles / Olympic National Park, WA

Mt. Angeles is the high peak that towers above the city of Port Angeles and thank to the well-engineered Hurricane Ridge road the access is a piece of cake comparing to most of the major summits in Olympics. The ascent is without doubt, one of the most popular on the peninsula. I had previously looked at this peak on the maps but never put in effort to research. It seemed like nothing but a short stroll from the upper road… On this past Tuesday I found myself having about half a day’s time to kill without anything specific to do other than going home. I just had a fantastic morning climbing Mt. Washington but my stoke’s still high. There’s lots of thinking as I slowly drove north towards Port Townsend ferry and in the end I made a spontaneous decision to check out Hurricane Ridge road.

Thank to the fact I did zero homework I wasn’t even aware that this road is actually paved all the way while rising close to one vertical mile from sea level. I wouldn’t be driving to the end though as there’s a short-cut that connects with the main Klahhane Ridge trail. This adds a bit of extra elevation gain but shaves off quite a few miles of distance. I was more than happy enough because a “short stroll” was exactly what I was looking for.

Mt. Angeles via Switchback Trail. GPX DL

Quickly packing up at Swichback Trail parking lot I left the hordes of tourists and started my ascent under a toasty afternoon sun. I packed an ice axe and Nepal Evos while wearing sneakers because I didn’t know if there’s enough (steep) snow to warrant real boots. It turned out to be unnecessities for exercise… The trail was in some excellent conditions and in no time I connected with the Klahhane Ridge trail and turned left. There’s some snow on the trail but someone had already made the tracks. Once the trail joins the broad “south saddle” I turned into the forest. Bushwhacking was non-existence on the south slopes and I made quick work on either snow or grass.

This is the start of Switchback Trail

The cool thing for this trail is the cascading streams

As typical as the lower section goes

Starting to see something…

Grassy slopes look like mid-July at least…

Joining Klahhane Ridge trail now and it crosses this avi chute

Looking back at the slopes the trail traverses on.

High up on the south slopes now. Hitting large patches of snow

Starting to wonder how would I attain the summit… I had no beta.

Once reaching treeline I started to get confused. The summit looked fairly rugged and certainly not the “easy stroll” that I was expecting, and too bad I couldn’t catch any cell phone signal so guess what, time to explore it out myself. I followed the faint sets of footprints up diagonally towards climber’s left side to the base of the west slopes. The cliffs looked more “breakable” from this side so up I went overcoming a series of short Class 2 cliff bands. At this point I still didn’t know whether or not the route would go but the problems just kept resolving themselves upon closer examination. There’s one or two 3rd class moves higher up and the actual summit block was much easier than it looked. I did not find any cairn or sign of human traffics on the route I took but nonetheless this was a very enjoyable short scramble and I would highly recommend. Looking down the north side I could see the far NW corner might offers an easier route up but who cares. I caught some cell signal on the summit to confirm that rugged “east peak” isn’t the true one.

Let the scrambling begin…

A sideways view into the Olympics core area

Partway up the initial gully. Looking down.

One cool pinnacle near the route I took.

This is another sideways view, from much higher up.

That pinnacle is now looking small..

Summit Panorama from Mt. Angeles. Click to view large size.

A sea of peaks in the core of Olympics. Much of the areas is remote

Looking NW over Griff Peak and Unicorn Peak

This is looking towards Port Angeles with Straight of Juan de Fuca behind

Deception, Mystery and the Royal Basin peaks rise behind Elk Mountain

Mt. Cameron

Another view of the ocean. If the sky is clearer you could easily see Mt. Baker

A wider view looking towards Mt. Olympus with Hurricane Ridge in front

“Second Top” on the northern ridge of Mt. Angeles massif

A close-up shot of Mt. Olympus massif

Mt. Carrie with Mt. Fairchild in front

Crystal Peak and Chimney Peak with Mt. Norton in front

Anderson Mountain and West Peak

Part of Klahhane Ridge is visible in foreground

Me on the summit of Mt. Angeles

Another shot of me on the summit of Mt. Angeles

After convincing myself that there’s no way could I catch the 8:30 pm ferry ride from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island I lingered more than half an hour on the summit to soak in the late-afternoon vistas. The views were far-reaching from Victoria, BC all the way to Mt. Olympus. I thought about descending the NW slopes but decided to just reverse my ascent route. Near the base I deviated from my route and the punishment was some awkward “surfing” on hardpack dirt-covered-slabs… It was fun in sneakers… The rest of the descent was fast and uneventful.

A review shot of the summit block. It’s easier than it looks

One last look northwards towards Straight of Juan de Fuca

The route I came up and would descend

The early-evening light is really good

I went down a slightly different path near the bottom

I like the colour composition of this picture.

Lots of snow in the alpine basin still. Mt. Olympus on the horizon

I just had a fast scree run down this.

The trail and the last beams of sunlight

Forest catching the last rays of sun

As much as the trailed descent went…

After coming down Hurricane Ridge road with lots of construction delay I had to face the long drive.. At this point I got a call from Jake who just came back after a successful ascent of Snowfield Peak and he kindly offered me a stay in his parents’ house on Bainbridge Island. The bonus was a well-served Tai dinner which was certainly much better than the McDonalds in Port Angeles. I didn’t take the offer to stay over because I still had to work the next day, so I then took the 11:05 pm Kingston-Edmonds ferry, and made back home after 2 am in the morning. Not bad, not bad.