Robinson Mountain (Attempt)

Robinson Mountain, Attempt to 8,280ft

Katie on the southeast ridge

Eric and Katie

February 10-12, 2018

I’d attempted to climb Robinson Mountain last January with Birkan, and had to turn back high on the summit ridge because we were making too slow progress in the deep snow.

This year a good weather window opened up after 3 weeks of bad weather, and Katie and I headed out Friday evening to give Robinson another shot. We made the 5hr drive to Winthrop, got dinner at Three-Fingered Jack’s, then slept in the car at the Yellowjacket sno park.

A nice kitchen

The next morning I dropped Katie off at the start of the snowmobile trail (0.5 miles down the road, but with no parking allowed), drove back to the sno park, then jogged back. We hiked a few miles on snowmobile trails until we reached the official hiking trailhead. I was towing my heavy pack in a sled on the flat terrain. Luckily this year the snow was very well consolidated, so much so that we almost didn’t need snowshoes.

When the trail got steep, I ditched my sled in the woods and we continued up Robinson Creek. After a few miles we turned up Beauty Creek, ascending steeply through the woods, then making a long bushwhacking traverse. At an open meadow we climbed steeply up to the left another 1000ft to reach the cirque on the southeast side of Robinson.

Climbing up out of camp

We reached a flat, sheltered spot near a tarn just before sunset. Katie dug out an excellent kitchen and melted snow

while I set up the tent. After a few hours we had enough snow melted and went to sleep. The forecast was for snow early the next morning, but then clearing, so we slept in a bit.

By 9:15am the next morning we were ascending under sunny skies. On my previous attempt with Birkan we’d gained the ridge north of this cirque, but that ridge was rocky and technical. This time we climbed up the ridge south of the cirque, and it was much easier. After traversing the ridge, avoiding a few cornices, and climbing up one steep sketchy part, we reached the head of the cirque.

Panorama from the summit ridge, looking out at the North Cascades

Looking towards the summit from 8,000ft

We could see the summit in the distance, and the rest of the ridge looked like a mellow walk, except for one steep step near the summit. I’d heard this was an exposed 3rd class knife edge for 30m, and brought a rope and rock gear to protect it. We hiked a little farther along the ridge, but then a decision was made to turn around.

Instead of retracing our steps, we downclimbed the gentle snow slopes directly into the cirque, and got back to camp around 1pm. We packed up the bags and hiked all the way back to the car, arriving by sunset. We spent the night in another snopark outside Winthrop and drove back to Seattle Monday morning.

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