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INTRODUCTION: Seattle Recreation and the North Cascades

Highway 2
Stevens Pass Recreation

Highway 2 Hiking
Highway 2 Campgrounds
Highway 2 Biking
Highway 2 Skiing / Snowboarding

Highway 2 / Stevens Pass - Highway 2 begins at Exit 194 on Interstate 5 in Everett, WA, and travels east through the towns of Monroe, Sultan, Start Up, and Gold Bar, as well as Index and Skykomish, and then up over Stevens Pass. From Stevens Pass, Highway 2 descends into Leavenworth, and then a half-hour further into the city of Wenatchee.

Rock ClimbingRock Climbing in the Stevens Pass and Highway 2 Area

By Robert Rousseau, Copyright © 2008,

The Stevens Pass area of Washington State is widely known for its skiing and snowboarding, but not as well known for it's rock climbing and ice climbing, which there is plenty of.

Warning: The area of Stevens Pass has many difficult to traverse mountains. In other words, the climbing areas noted in this article are not for the inexperienced. When deciding on the materials needed for a climb and what mountain or trail to try, contact an area expert. This is imperative and could help you to avoid injury or death.

Rock Climbing in Stevens Pass off of Highway 2 and beyond

Mount Baring: In spots, Mount Baring can be stunning. The mountain is precipitous on all sides and to the north there is a nearly unbroken 3,000 foot cliff of vertical and overhanging rock, which can be seen from US Highway 2 as you move towards Stevens Pass. The peak has technical routes and a class 2 scramble to offer. The north face can be challenging and dangerous.

In other words, it's not really for the faint of heart. In fact, that north wall is for only the very experienced.

Gunn Peak: You can see Gunn to the east above Index, Washington in your travels. It sticks out amongst a selection of 6,000 foot peaks between the north and south forks of the Skykomish River, a body of water that follows Route 2.

Many have commented that Gunn is not a particularly inspiring piece of rock to climb and that they have had difficulty finding the trail to it. On the other hand, the fact that Gunn doesn't have the easiest trails leading to it and is off the beaten path may compel some to find and follow its course!

After all, isn't this all about going where others have not traveled?

Merchant Peak: Okay, so Merchant Peak isn't necessarily as big in the area as Mount Baring and Gunn Peak. Still, Merchant, with a summit of over 6,100 feet, is certainly not small. The lower stretches have some nice alpine flora, while the upper regions, as is the case with many mountains in the area, are often treeless due to the ice and snow that pound away at those segments.

The negative is that since Merchant Peak is less popular than Baring and Gunn, the trail to it is also somewhat difficult to navigate. In fact, there doesn't appear to be a true trail by most standards.

In other words, lots of bushwhacking, scrambling, and route finding. But if it sounds like a climb for you, then it may be worth it!

Mount Howard: The highest peak of Nason Ridge, which is a moderately craggy ride 10 miles east of the Stevens Pass area. It gives off a majestic feel, in essence rising above the other bodies of rock around it like a pyramid of sorts. Check it out if you're looking for a mountain that makes you feel like royalty before you even start the climb.

Mount Index: Index is really the most obvious and jarring mountain that you'll encounter on Stevens Pass Highway. Its north face is a 2,500 surrounded wall that emanates from green fir forests. There are deep gullies abound, and the north side regularly avalanches in the winter.

In fact, the entire area in this article has avalanche issues, which should remind you to always check with appropriate climbing and nature professionals before making a climb.

The north face is considered to be a relatively easy and popular climb. It is often completed in the spring (there is still snow).

The west ridge/ slope of Mount Index is also a climbing spot.

Mount Persis: Persis holds a broad and steep north face that bursts approximately 5,000 foot from the valley floor to the top. There are tons of rock faces and buttresses abound. By the way, strong and experienced hikers can find their way to Persis, but as is the case with some of the other mountains on this list, the trail to it isn't the easiest to find.

In fact, expect to have to blaze open parts of it in some instances.

By the way, as you attempt almost any rock or ice climbing in the area you may need a Northwest Forest Pass. Do yourself a favor and check in advance.

Also, don't hesitate to call the Skykomish Ranger Station if you have questions; there are many guides to be found in the area as well.


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Mountain Loop Highway Hiking
Mt Baker Highway Hiking
Highway 2 Hiking attempts to list hiking trails as we either trek them ourselves, have them recommended by friends or other readers, or read about them through other resources, such as books, news articles, and websites.

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