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[TR] Storm King Mountain (8515’) - North Ridge Route 09/05/2020

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Trip: Storm King Mountain (8515’) - North Ridge Route

Trip Date: 09/05/2020

Trip Report:

Storm King Mountain (8515’), North Ridge Route Trip Report – September 5-7, 2020

I climbed Storm King Mountain (8515’), North Ridge Route.  I tried this route last year at the end of July but under estimated the amount of time, effort and amount of route finding required to do the route and had to turn around before making the summit.  This year I still under estimated the time and effort required but was able to make the summit due to better beta from my previous attempt last year.  It took me 3 days.  I started at the Bridge Creek Trailhead off Hwy 20 just east of Rainy Pass.  It was an out and back trip using Bridge Creek Trail to North Fork Trail into the North side of Goode and Storm King.  The trail is in excellent shape all the way to Grizzly Creek Camp.  After Grizzly Creek Camp the trail gets overgrown but is not hard to follow.   The adventure starts when you cross the North Fork of Bridge Creek.  Down low, after crossing the creek (3100’-3200’elevation), heading up the rocky brushy slope I almost walked into a large Wasp nest in the middle of the faint climbers trail.  I got lucky and made a detour around the nest without incident.  I followed a faint trail up the tree lined ridge between Goode and Storm King.  The ridge tops out at 4700’ on a nice wide fairly flat plateau that would make a great camp, no water though.  I continued up the ridge to about 5100’ and started my traverse over to the bottom of the North Ridge of Storm King (5000’).  This is the easiest spot to gain the North Ridge of Storm King, right at the base of the glacier.  The rock is a mix of Class 3, 4 and low 5th in spots heading up.  On either side of the ridge it is steep, sheer rock so you will know if you are off route.  It took me 5 hours to go from the base of the North Ridge to the Summit.  I summited late at 6:00pm so I headed down to find a place to bivy at about 7200’ next to the snow field separating the upper and lower mountain.  I got up early the next morning and started down at 6:30am.  Once back at the bottom of the North Ridge I headed straight down and diagonal toward the creek valley below.  On the map it looked like the easiest way down (contour line wise).  Even though it was the easiest way down to the main creek, it still involved coming down several 10’ vertical drops that required careful Vege-Belaying technique.  I usually hate Slide Alder, but in this case, I was very happy it was on the down route as it was very useful.  Overall  the North Ridge of Storm King is a tough climb.  The approach is difficult, the exit is difficult, and the ridge requires your full attention.  The trail into the area is long and you will need comfortable shoes to save your feet.  There was a search and rescue helicopter flying all over the creek valley and up to the base of Goode on Sunday the 6th.  Looks like they were doing a rescue.  They spent some time parked on an island in the middle of the creek below.  It was a good reminder to keep my shit wired tight doing this route.  Hopefully all went well for the rescue operation.   

Some Tips and Notes:

  • 1.   This is a long trip.  I should have spread the pain more evenly over the three days.  Day 1 go as far up as you can to camp.  I thought Grizzly Camp was far enough on Day 1, it wasn’t. 
  • 2.   The climbers trail up the tree cover ridge between Goode and Storm King is steep and hard to follow.  Mostly just look for skid marks from animals and humans to stay on route.     
  • 3.   There are good camping options at 4700’ on the tree covered ridge and above.  The 7200’ bivy spot on the side of Storm King is pretty good, If I had more of my gear with me it would have been very pleasant.  There was water all along the route where there was melting snow/glacier.
  • 4.   A rope would probably be a good idea to bring along.  Rappelling would have been nice in several spots but you would definitely have to watch for loose rock coming down on you as you rappel.  A didn’t bring a rope to save weight and it worked out fine for me.
  • 5.   I brought an Ice Axe & Crampons and didn’t use them.   Maybe early in the season they would have been needed. 

Travel Time for reference:  Day 1 (TH to Grizzly Camp), 4.5 hours – Day 2 (Grizzly Camp to Summit to 7200’ bivy), 12.5 hours – Day 3 (7200’ bivy to TH),  14 hours.

Gear used:   Trekking Pole, Helmet, Ice Axe, Crampons, Full Gaiters, Work Gloves

5f5da8233743a_WASPNest.thumb.jpg.502ddee6a5b434229ebe0ff794b7c308.jpg

Wasp nest down low after crossing North Fork Bridge Creek around 3100-3200'

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Climbers Trail up tree cover ridge between Goode and Storm King

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View from 4700' ridge plateau

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Potential camp at 4700' ridge plateau

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Full view of North Ridge of Storm King.  Start of ridge is the at the bottom right where the heavy shadow is (5000').

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North Ridge start location (5000').

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Get used to this view for the next several hours.

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View off to the side of the North Ridge.

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Storm King - "Where Echoes Go To Die" - I believe it, must have been climbing the North Ridge.

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Goode looking sexy like usual.

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Wish I had more time on the summit to enjoy the view, it was stunning.  

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End of the Exit route.  Farewell Storm King - North Ridge.  Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hands.  

Gear Notes:
Trekking Pole, Helmet, Ice Axe, Crampons, Full Gaiters, Work Gloves - Didn't need the Ice Axe or Crampons

Approach Notes:
Bridge Creek Trailhead - Bridge Creek Trail to North Fork Trail & back
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Thanks for the excellent trip report. It looks really great up there. Didn't know to watch out for wasp nests when bushwhacking!

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