Hoodoo Peak, February 19-21, 2016
Eric and Matthew Gilbertson
We made what appears to be the first recorded winter ascent of Hoodoo Peak in at least the last 22 years! Matthew flew out to Seattle for a long weekend adventure, landing on Thursday night. We spent the night at my apartment before heading out to Eastern Washington Friday morning. Our original plan to do Glacier Peak was thwarted by bad avy conditions, but it was dryer in the eastern cascades and Hoodoo peak was a hundred highest mountain with a safe ascent route up ridges, avoiding avy terrain.
We drove through apple and pear orchards in a cold rain before reaching the trailhead near Methow and starting our hike at noon. The full road to the official trailhead is unplowed in the winter, which adds an extra 10-mile approach and probably explains why nobody climbs this peak in winter. A cold rain gradually changed to a heavy snow as we hiked up snowmobile tracks to the trailhead. The going was slow breaking trail, and we pitched camp a few miles before the base of the mountain. Matthew got a roaring fire going in a 5-ft-deep snowpit that kept us warm all evening.
In the morning we continued breaking trial up the mountain, using an indispensable GPS track I had downloaded from peakbagger. We took a lunch break at a small cabin buried in snow, and then headed up to Hoodoo. Matthew led the way up a gradual snow slope to the south ridge. Here we changed from snowshoes to bare-boots and scrambled up the “class 2” rock and snow ridge to the summit. The top does look like a hoodoo from the south (a hoodoo is a rock outcropping like you see in Bryce Canyon).
We could see a lot of wilderness and snowy mountains around, and no civilization, not even a road. Amazingly the summit register dated back to 1996 and had no recorded winter ascents! This is a hundred highest mountain so does see some traffic, but only June-October it appeared.
We’d considered continuing on to bag Raven Ridge, another hundred highest mountain nearby, but couldn’t follow the standard route because it went through avy terrain and today that wouldn’t be too safe. Our plan to follow the ridge there looked a bit sketchier than we’d hoped, so we instead called Hoodoo Peak good enough and descended to camp for another roaring fire.
The next morning we hiked back out, reaching the car by noon and Seattle by 4pm, in time for Matthew’s evening flight back to Boston.