April 30 – May 1, 2016

Mount Howard Summit Camp

Mount Howard (7063′)

——————– Trip Report Summary ——————–

Region: North-Central Cascades

Starting & Ending Point: Rock Mountain Trailhead (Highway 2)

Way Points: Rock Mountain Shoulder & Rock Lake & Rock-Crescent Saddle & Crescent Lake & Mt. Howard summit (hike & snow hike & snow climb)

Campsite: Mt. Howard summit

Summit: Mt. Howard (snow climb via South Slope)

Approximate Total Stats:  12 miles traveled;  6400 feet gained and lost.

——————– Full Trip Report ——————–

For our first overnight trip of the season, Eileen and I took advantage of the good weather by climbing Mt. Howard and camping on the summit.

Day 1 – Trailhead to Summit:

We hiked up the Rock Mtn. Trail, encountering snow at 5000 feet, then continued up to Rock Lake.  The Rock Lake / Crescent Lake divide was clearly visible above the lake, and we were able to scope out a good ascent route.

Rock-Crescent Divide From Rock Lake

The afternoon snow had formed 12 to 18 inches of mush over a firm base, but we never really felt a need for snowshoes.

Climbing To Rock-Crescent Saddle

Across the lake bowl, Rock Mountain glistened in the afternoon sun.  There were numerous snow sloughs and snow bombs below the corniced summit ridge.

Rock Mountain Above Rock Lake
Cornice Block Tumble

At the 6500-foot divide saddle, we got our first view of Mt. Howard.  The big south slope looked like an easy snow climb, but it was necessary to first make a disheartening 900-foot descent to Crescent Lake.

Howard Horns and Mount Howard

We found running water at several locations near Crescent Lake, so we loaded up 4 quarts in preparation for our summit meals.

Cresent Lake

The final 1400-foot ascent of Mt. Howard’s south slope felt long and tiring, but the snow conditions were good for booting.

High On Mount Howard

We reached the summit shortly after 7:00pm (8.1 hours from TH) and quickly set about making dinner.  Rock Mountain dominated our view as the sun slowly sank to the west.

Evening Light On Rock Mountain
Cooking Dinner On Mount Howard Summit

There was no flat spot for a tent, so we scraped out two small bivouac benches closely below the summit and rolled out our sleeping bags.  A steady breeze kept the dew down all night.

Summit Bivy
Sunset From Mt Howard Summit

Day 2 – Summit to Trailhead:

The morning was clear and sunny, with a frigid easterly wind blowing through.  We enjoyed views of the Chiwaukum Mountains, Alpine Lakes peaks, and Glacier Peak while eating breakfast.

Morning Light On Jim Hill Mountain and MtDaniel
Morning Light On Glacier Peak and Clark Mountain
Morning Light On Chiwaukum Mountains

The snowfields had frozen hard overnight, so we used crampons for the entire trip down to Crescent Lake and back up and down to Rock Lake.  It was quite hot by the time we reached the TH in early afternoon (5.3 hours from summit).


——————– Photo Gallery (click to enlarge) ——————–