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Mt. Mystery question????


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This mountain has really caught my eye since appearing on the cover a few years ago of the Olympic climbing guide. Does anybody have opinions on the best route, quality of rock, excellence of mountain experience and/or aproach/ general time notes. Is it a reasonable 2 day trip and does it have allot of 'bang for the buck'? thanks for any input.

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  • 1 year later...
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At the risk of removing the mystery, here's da beta.


It's a superb peak, in a pretty remote place, technically easy and stellar vistas. I climbed it and Deception over a long weekend in July 2008.


Camped in upper Royal Basin. Ascended to low point to the ridge running east of Deception summit, then dropped down a steep but doable scree slope into the beauuuutiful Deception Basin. Ascended Mystery glacier on climber’s left (no rope needed).


From notch above glacier, it’s tempting to head straight up the ridgeline towards the summit. Do not. Instead, traverse laterally left about 200 feet, then head up. Doing this lets you skirt some tricky blocky benches and steeper snow.


No rope needed or pro used on the whole route. Beginners might want a harness and a short bit of rope for 1 pitch of a 4th classy gully right at the top. Helmets: definitely yes. With a start from camp after 8:00am, you could almost leave the ice axe home too. We barely used ours.



4.5 hours - car to high camp in upper Royal Basin 8 miles

1 hour - camp to deception Basin

1 hour – basin to head of Mystery Glacier

1.5 hours - head of Mystery Glacier to summit

3.5 hours total: camp to summit

3.5 hours - to return to camp, including 1 hour summit lounge and long break in Deception Basin

TOTAL – 7 hours round trip from camp


Bear canisters are required for overnight stays in Olympic national park. REI rentals are expensive.

The place to get bear canisters is called Wild Birds Unlimited, in the small town of Gardenier WA, at Hwy 101 mile post #276. Call before you go to reserve them for your team.


Good food on the drive home is at the Snug Harbor Cafe, a mile or so west of the junction of Hwy 101 and Hwy 20, at the south end of Discovery Bay.


Do not camp at crowded, mosquito infested and no views Royal Lake. Instead, go about 1 mile farther to tree line, and look off right of the trail for some large gravel benches near a small tarn that make great group camps.


Here’s a slideshow from my ascent of Deception and Mystery. Some slides have route info drawn in. Enjoy!




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  • 3 weeks later...

Really nice photos.

I climbed Mystery solo via the E. ridge but from a southern approach several years ago. Came in via Dosewallips before the road got washed out, camped at Sunnybrook Meadows, followed Del Monte Ridge from the South. Routefinding is far less straightforward from this side-- I had hoped to proceed straight up from the south, but ended up contouring and losing some altitude to gain the east ridge. Many, many loose rocks. Trundling was such an obvious risk that solo almost seemed an advantage. This approach is much more laborious, but quite secluded--not another soul to be seen from beginning to end. It stands out as a memorable trip.

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