Statlu Peak - NW Ridge via Lost Creek, March 2022
This one saw a fair bit of attention in February and March last year following a post on SWBC Peak Baggers describing it as great snow hike with good FSR access, minimal brush, reasonable stats, and excellent views. My ears instantly perked up when I got wind of this, being that such outings, especially those reasonably close to home are increasingly in short supply for me. With a guaranteed track to follow and good weather in the forecast, I seized the opportunity to sample this peakbagging flavor of the month.
Turning off pavement near Mission, access to the trailhead is via the same Lost Creek FSR used for Mount Saint Benedict, except one follows the FSR several kilometers further towards Salisbury Lake. Potholes got annoying for the final km or two and lingering snow meant 4x4 or SUVs with decent clearance only. The first ~6km follows an old forest road, initially free of alders and snow and interrupted by a couple stream crossings. Just as the alders started to become annoying, snow coverage became continuous and helped to keep the brush at bay. Easy cruise now on snow all the way to the base of Statlu's SW Face and the start of steeper climbing. Following tracks, I turned off the forest road and started up towards the forested ridge crest above. Snow eventually became too steep and firm for snowshoes, so I swapped out for crampons and ice axe and continued up. Encountered a twosome returning from the summit near here - they seemed a bit disoriented and were relieved to see me, knowing that they now had my tracks to follow back down. Could have done without the lecture on hiking solo though...I wasn't the one lost up there after all. But I digress.
Snow got quite steep and firm for the final bit to the ridge, occasionally punching through to rock and tree wells. Continued up now in open forest to reach the last of the trees at a steep step. Up this and onto more gentle slopes with the rest of the route now laid out before me. Quite an aesthetic looking ridge crest from this vantage point and the inspiration behind my coming here in the first place. I could see tracks leading up a series of gentle steps to the summit, with a party of three about 2/3rds of the way there. I motored up, grateful for the tracks especially now in the deep powder snow. The threesome vacated the summit just before I arrived, leaving it for me to enjoy all to myself. Damn good viewpoint up there I tell you, especially of Robie Reid and the "Judge", the Chehalis Group, and Stave Lake with Mount Crickmer rising behind. Pretty sure I could identify St. Benedict from up there as well and couldn't help but think how much better of an objective Statlu is as compared to its more popular neighbor. But then I'm sure the brush can get bad here once all the snow has melted. Back to the truck without incident for a very manageable 13-14 km and about 4000 ft of total vert. Sure, it's got a short window, but timed right Statlu makes for a fine day out!
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