The Stuart Range from the summit of Hex Mountain!

Hex Mountain 5,034'

Backcountry Ski and Snowshoe

March 20, 2004





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Hex Mountain is a fine ski and snowshoe trip about two hours from Seattle. Take I90 to the Roslyn Exit, and then to State Route 903. Turn left; drive through the old former coal mining towns of Roslyn and Ronald, a total of 9 miles to Forest Road 116. Look for the Newport Creek sign and park at the plowed pullout 100 yards before Road 116. Road 116 is now unmarked.

Kay Ishii, David Wilkerson, Michael Sheehan, Florence Sheehan, Doerte, and I started walking up Road 116 until we were able to put on our skis and snowshoes. We started wandering up the various logging roads and never even saw the summer trailhead. The day was calm and clear, with only a few high clouds above. It was probably the best weekend day in weeks, and we felt lucky to be outside enjoying such a fine day!

Gaining the ridge we determined that we were one ridge too far to the North. We could just barely make out another party traveling along the Hex Mountain Ridge. We had two choices. One, backtrack to the correct route, or two, head down, cross the creek, and head up the North slope to the correct ridge. Being of the adventurous types, we decided on the second choice and were soon back on route. It was hard work and were soon down to our bottom layers. Plum Creek Timber Company had been busy in the area, so most of the trees on the North slope were gone.

On the ridge, we broke into three small groups. The wind was cold. Doerte and I stopped for a quick lunch. As with our last trip, we again heard the tap, tap, tap of a woodpecker, and stopped to listen to him work for a while. By his slow, irregular, very loud drumming we identified him as a Pileated Woodpecker. They like a deep forest with many standing dead trees. We didn't get to see him.

As we made our way up the ridge, we were careful to avoid the big rounded, beautiful cornices, which grew larger as we gained elevation. The wind must be incredible here at times. Some of the drifts were 8 deep in the trees.

At 4.5 miles we gained the treeless summit of Hex Mountain, 5,034’. (Normally it is 3.5 miles) What amazing views we had! Majestic Mount Stuart, 9,415’, Colchuck Peak, 8,705’, Little Annapurna, 8,440’, and entire Stuart Range to the North, and Mount Hinman, 7,492’, Mount Daniel, 7,986’ to the Northwest.

Michael, Doerte, and Florence having lunch on the summit.

In 1853 Captain George B. McClellen summed it up from near Naches Pass when he wrote, "to the northward there is a vast sea of bare, jagged, snow-crowned ranges extending as far as the eye can reach!" This is also fitting for the views from Hex Mountain. Cle Elum Lake was far below in the valley.

On our descent, we were actually able to get some turns in on the marginal snow. There were some rocks and low trees to avoid. It was great fun! The snow has been melting fast already East of the Crest. Our time down was half of the ascent time. A tough, but rewarding trip, 7-mile roundtrip and 2,600’ elevation gain.


The activities described in this web site are potentially dangerous. Canyoneering, rock climbing, and mountaineering involve unavoidable risks including the risk of serious bodily injury and death. All forms of wilderness recreation have a higher level of risk than most ordinary activities. The owner and publisher of this web site do not assume any responsibility or liability for your safety. Those who use this information, and those who venture onto mountainous terrain, do so at their own risk. Disclaimer

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