Mount Skokomish & Mount Stone - Southeast Route & West Ridge, September 2013
Paul, Eli and I climbed Mount Skokomish and Mount Stone on a particularly gorgeous Sunday in September. Both peaks are accessed via the Putvin Trail located some 11.5 miles up the Hamma Hamma River Road (FS Road 25) and make for a pleasant if not strenuous day trip.
Leaving shortly after dawn from a trailhead bivy, we proceeded to grind up the steep, dusty, hornet-infested trail to finally emerge in the sunshine at a lush meadow on a bench with Mount Stone looming above. Continuing along the trail, we surmounted a rocky headwall to reach the beautiful Lake of the Angels basin. Privately, I thought of relaxing here for a while and soaking-in the scenery, but we had an agenda and relaxing was not part of it. Beyond the lake, we continued upwards in a southwesterly direction following the rocky shoulder of North Skokomish. We reached a saddle at the top of the shoulder (5700ft) with outstanding views of Mount Cruiser to the southwest. Descending a short bit on the opposite side of the saddle (staying right), we made an ascending traverse over scree, grass, boilerplate and talus along the southeast slope of Mount Skokomish. A final short scramble on loose rock up the south spur led to the (true) south summit where a grand panorama overlooking the Olympic Mountains was ours to behold.
Upon return, we retraced our steps to within a couple hundred feet of Lake of the Angels. Scrambling up through a short cliff band at left, we then made another ascending traverse this time along the grassy slope above the northwest shore of the lake. After a bit of meandering through a talus slope littered with house-sized boulders, we found ourselves at the base of the large apron beneath a notch-type feature dubbed St. Peter's Gate. Making a hard left at this point, we proceeded upwards passing beneath a prominent rock dome. Now contouring beneath the left edge of Stone's craggy South Ridge, we soon reached a notch in the crest of the West Ridge. Turning right here, we scrambled up a short 3rd-class chimney that breaks a steep step in the West Ridge. From this point we were finally able to see the final summit block of Mt. Stone. A short walk beneath the crest of the West Ridge led to the summit block where ~150 feet of fun class 3 scrambling saw us to Stone's tippy top. As with Skokomish, here too were some great views to be had.
We cut our stay short as the day was threatening to get away from us and we had a reasonably long ways to go still. Once back down below St. Peters Gate, we continued on a descending traverse beneath Pt. 6187 and Pt. 5854, then made our way down a steep grassy slope ending in a brushy gully that leads to the meadow at the bench beneath Lake of the Angels. The remaining hike back to the trailhead went without incident save for Paul and Eli getting stung by hornets once again! Better them than me, eh? Ok, ok my luck would run out by the following weekend, but that's a story for another time!