Slate Peak

October 14, 2018


Harts Pass / North Cascades Highway, WA

Although insignificant from mountaineering perspective, Slate Peak of the eastern North Cascades has other significance. It boasts the highest lookout tower as well as the highest driveable road in Washington state and on a clear day the summit offers some unobstructed views of the Pasayten Wilderness. The road was constructed half a century ago during the “cold war” and has been well-maintained to this date. In some days one can drive all the way to the summit but for most days of a year the last part of this road is gated. Don’t worry.. The hike is literally nothing… From the uppermost gate one only needs about 10 minutes of walking to reach the summit lookout tower.

For obvious reasons I wouldn’t drive all the way to Harts Pass just for Slate Peak. The main objective among Jake, Eric, Trace and myself was Mt. Ballard one of the seven extras of Bulger list. The ascent of Mt. Ballard was shorter than expected such that we still had plenty of daylight time to kill. I didn’t know much of the area but I did notice several easy summits around Harts Pass. Jake suggested Slate Peak and it’s right there, so why not…

Slate Peak on the edge of Pasayten Wilderness

There were several patches of snow on the uppermost of Slate Peak Road but didn’t impose any problem to Eric’s Subaru. We drove all the way to the uppermost gate and easily hiked to the summit. Too bad the lookout tower was closed as otherwise the view would be even better. We could see almost all Bulgers in the North Cascades and I got introduced to every single one of them by the team. Those would all be my future projects.

Hiking up the road

A view of Robinson Mountain from the road walk

Almost there, looking back down the road

Trace and Eric looking into the Pasayten

This is that summit lookout tower

Slate Peak Lookout…

Partial Summit Panorama from Slate Peak. Click to view large size.

Partial Summit Panorama from Slate Peak. Click to view large size.

Looking into the core of Pasayten and the 8 Bulgers in it.

Robinson Mountain

Monument Peak is one of the 8 Bulgers in the core Pasayten

Jack Mountain is a bulk massif from any angle

This is looking at the undulating ridge SE of Harts Pass

Looking back down the road with Gardners and Silver Star on the horizon

A zoomed-in shot of Silver Star Mountain

“Methow Needles” with Big Kangaroo behind on the left skyline

Tower Mountain

Golden Horn

Black Peak

Azurite Peak

Mt. Ballard and its east face -our previous objective

Me on the summit of Slate Peak

Another photo of me on the summit. Photo by Trace G.

There’s apparently some engineering (and blasting) in building this road…

Time to head home…

After admiring the views we leisurely returned and then drove down that long ass road back to Mazama. The view from this summit exceeded my expectation and I personally would recommend it to anyone looking for some good views of the Pasayten Wilderness, especially if you are in the area having extra time to kill.