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Mt. Angeles (winter) 6454'


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Monday Dec. 3, 2000

Since I had to be in Port Angeles for my 60k service on my 4-runner I took my loaner car up to Hurricane Ridge on a gorgeous sunny day. From the parking lot for the visitors center, Mt. Angeles is about 2.5 miles to the NE and is easily reached by a well marked snowshoe trail that traverses a prominent ridge.

However, there is a shorter steeper approach if conditions are favorable. About 2.7 miles back down the road is an obvious avalanche gulley that descends directly from the summit block. Don't even think about parking your car here if conditions are not safe. The switch back trail avoids the gully on the right side and as the name implies gets you up onto Klahhane Ridge in only 1.6 miles. It is possible to climb the gully directly to the summit by taking the right hand fork near the top, but I wanted to hit the east face of the second summit (6429') and then traverse to the main summit. Armed with snowshoes, ice axe and crampons, I followed the trail, cutting off some of the switch backs by kicking steps, until I got to the trail that traverses across the main gully. I then donned snowshoes to avoid postholeing and headed directly up and right towards Klahhane Ridge.

From west end of Klahhane Ridge, the east face is easily viewed. It looks like a major uplift with dozens of slanting gullies, many of which are extremely narrow. Pick the one you like and be sure to concentrate on picking the right entrance as you may not be able to get out of some until the top. There is a good photo of this east face in the Climbers Guide to the Olympic Mountains. The day I was there had considerably less snow than the photo, but they were all filled enough to climb.

I chose a really narrow one that looked like it had a very short vertical "step" that was hopefully ice and also a more sporty rock exit. I dropped down a few feet and traversed a short distance. The snow was harder and my snowshoes were sliding so I switched to crampons. More traversing and a few steep moves gained the chute where the sun was disappearing around the corner. Since it had been in the sun most of the morning, I had balling problems, but I still kept my crampons on. The "step" was one axe placement over a bulge and the rock exit was easy. Then a short saunter to the summit.

The traverse to the main summit tends to force you to descend left into the main gulley again when you come to a couple small gendarmes. However I stuck to the ridge as best as possible, passing a few on the north side where the snow was more powdery. A couple low 5th class moves and a jump down and then up a ramp and I was on the summit where it looked like Victoria BC was only 2 miles away across the straights of Juan de Fuca. Of course Mt. Baker, the Cascades and the whole interior of the Olympics were in full display.

The descent again incorporates the main gully with a traverse back to the ridge but I opted for a more direct descent down the ridge proper. This was a little sketchy without a rope, but soon I was chatting with a couple skiers who were parked for lunch on the SW facing slope just below the summit. From there I opted to follow the ridge all the way back to the visitor center just to see how long it would take. My time was about 1 hour 20 minutes to the parking lot on snowshoes. Keep in mind that either way (out or back), the ridge has a few steep sections you have to go up. I then hiked down the road back to my car and only got a ride from a car for the last mile.

Hurricane Ridge is a great way to get to 5,000' in a car all year round (conditions allowing) and offers skiing, snowshoeing and guided nature tours. It is in the Park and even on Monday they were collecting the fee at the gate.


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