Mount Kent
I-90 Corridor WI3/GradeIII

Mount Kent is an often overlooked peak located at the head of the Alice Creek drainage south and east of McClellan Butte. It is often a winter or early spring scramble up its south side following the snow slope to the ridge. Occasionally, as was the case this season, ice forms on the gullies its north face. There are several possible routes to the summit on the water ice that follow the face or gullies, not all of which have been completed to the summit as yet. Gary and I took advantage of the recent cold weather and stable snow conditions and took a day off work to have a go at the ice. The pictures below show some of the climb.   3D Satellite Photo

Trip Report

Trailhead location: I-90 Exit 42, old McClellan Butte trailhead (shorter than the new trailhead)
Approach Time: 2 hours to base of climb
Time on route: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 1500 feet to ridge on ice in gulley, approximately 200 feet to summit
Summit to Cars: 3 hours. Included a long down climb of a descent gulley on hard snow/ice that could be avoided.
Gear: 8 or more ice screws, 4 or more pickets
Notes:
There were two pitches of waterfall ice including the first and second pitches and the gulley generally goes grade III. The first pitch is WI 3 and has the steepest ice of the route. The second starts with a water ice step that is shorter than the first and is followed by the long remaining climb to the top of the gulley. The lower angle gulley was done by simul-climbing and using pickets and screws. More pickets would have been more efficient.

This climb can only be done when the ice is in good shape and the avalanche conditions are extremely stable. The gulley we climbed is an avalanche gulley and poured a lot of small debris down on us throughout the climb. These routes will likely only be in shape only rarely and not every year.


The pictures here were all taken with my cameral phone so the quality is a bit down. Here is a shot of the mountain from the base of the debris field. There are several good sickles in view here. Our's is the one in the center of the photo.

 

Another shot of the sickles to the right of us. Some other climbers went up to go to work on the the big one the day were there.

 

Gary with the mountain behind. Gary had assisted with a rescue the near this spot the weekend before when a climber fell while scouting out the lower part of the routes. Cascade climbers has a trip report and an accounting of the accident under the Alpine Lakes forum.

Gary was my climbing mentor and is the best climber I have ever climbed with.

 

A look at the first pitch. The ice here was in good shape and took screws pretty well. We were able to get to a couple small trees to setup our first belay.

 

Gary with I-90 and the approach below.

 

Self portrait. We had a nice little rest spot to get set and start up the route. There was some stuff falling off the cliff above us and we got showered with a pretty steady stream of small ice bits while on the route. Near the top I did manage to get hit in the face by a baseball sized ice ball that gave me a bloody nose. Ouch!!

 

Gary on the first pitch getting started.

 

Gary starting the second pitch. Just above him here we encountered some thin ice but was not problem to get over.

 

A look back down the gulley from the ridge. The last section was just soft snow but very steep and needed to be protected with the small trees on the side.

 

A look over to McClellan Butte from the ridge. From here we just followed the ridge to the summit, about another 200 feet and about 1/2 hour. The scramble route goes up the back side and we intersected the tracks.

 

Gary on top taking in the view.

 

The view was great with Baker, Glacier and Rainier all visible.

 

Defiance , Granite Mountain and all the others to the north and east of the summit.

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