April 30 – May 1, 2019
Mount Angeles (6454′)
——————– Trip Report Summary ——————–
Region: Olympic Mountains
Starting & Ending Point: Switchback Trailhead (Hurricane Ridge Road)
Way Points: Morse/Switchback Creek & Klahhane Saddle & Angeles Saddle & West Angeles Bench (hike & snow hike)
Campsite: West Angeles Bench
Summit: Mt. Angeles (climb via Southwest Slope—West Face [Route 1])
Approximate Stats: 4 miles traveled; 2900 feet gained & lost.
——————– Full Trip Report ——————–
Given a pleasantly sunny forecast, Eileen and I headed to the Olympics for our first overnight trip of the season.
Day 1 – Switchback Trailhead to West Angeles Bench:
We pulled into the 4400-foot Switchback TH parking area in early afternoon (the Hurricane Ridge Road had been closed for maintenance all morning), shouldered packs, and headed up the Switchback Trail. Snow patches started right away, and solid snow began around 4700 feet on this south-facing hillslope. Snowshoes were not needed, but crampons were quite helpful on the steep, firm slopes.
After losing the trail under the snow, we cramponed straight uphill to 5850-foot Klahhane Saddle (1.9 hours + 1500 feet) for a view to the north.
Mt. Angeles rises west of the saddle and presents a fascinating geomorphology, with vertically curved ribs and slots. There is also an appealing snow couloir that leads up to a col south of the summit. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to throw our ice axes in the car (this being our season-opener shake-down trip), so it wasn’t an option for us today.
Upon leaving Klahhane Saddle, we traversed steeply downward to the Switchback Trail at 5200 feet, then contoured westerly to Angeles Saddle. From there, mellow snow slopes led us upward and high across the western flank of Mt. Angeles (4.0 hours + 2300 feet from car).
We pitched our tent on a flat snow bench and ate dinner as the sun slowly sank below the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Day 2 (AM) – Summit Climb:
The night had been clear and cold, and morning sun highlighted Mt. Olympus to the south. Also, the snow was rock-hard when we headed up Mt. Angeles.
Rather than climbing the northwest snowfield, which was more like an icefield, we scrambled directly up the west face on dry basalt. The scrambling involved a combination of easy Class 2 ledges and fairly steep Class 3 slots and steps.
We summited in mid-morning (1.0 hours + 600 feet from camp) and enjoyed the exceptional visibility across the Olympic Mountains.
Our descent was uneventful, and we were able to find some easier bypass routes around the steepest parts.
Day 2 (PM) – West Angeles Bench to Switchback Trailhead:
We packed up camp and descended to Angeles Saddle, then located the Switchback Trail and followed it down alternating patches of snow and bare ground to reach the TH by early afternoon (1.4 hours from camp).
——————– Route Map/Sketch ——————–
——————– Photo Gallery (click to enlarge) ——————–