Buck Mountain-West Route

* USGS Map(40 foot contour interval) Shows the summit at +8520 Feet 

I arrived at Trinity, whatever it is, late Friday night. After a night of car camping, I hit the trail a few minutes after 6:00am. In a little over a mile and a half I reached a fork. I took the left branch and continued on the Buck Creek Pass Trail (FST1513) for another 4 to 4.5 miles. The exact location that I left the trail at is hard to describe and not necessarily the best place. The idea is to gain the forested east spur of  point 7625'. Somewhere between 4200 and 4300 feet I left the trail and headed SW to reach the crest of the spur. I continued up keeping near the crest and taking advantage of game trails when possible. Expect brush. 

Buck Mountain from the Buck Creek Pass Trail

At c.5800', I thrashed through the last bit of brush to reach a large basin on the left side of the spur's crest. I began traversing then continued up to get above the highest brush and scrub trees in the basin. From here I began traversing toward the east buttress of Mount Berge (7848'). I reached an elevation of near 6300' as I traversed above the brush. Once near the east buttress I began descending toward its toe. At 5900' I located a grassy ledge just above some lower angled slabs at the toe of the buttress. Was this the "ramp"? 

The East Buttress of Mount Berge
(The ramp begins on the grassy ledge just above the slabs at the toe of the buttress)

After a short scramble to reach the ledge I followed it around to the south side of the crest then followed a faint path (appears to be a game trail) up steeply and then left and into a talus basin. From here I continued traversing and gaining a bit of elevation until past another buttress. Now I could climb more or less straight up towards what appears to be a ridge descending from Berge to the the saddle between Buck and Berge. The ridge turned out to be less of one than it had appeared from below. It is at the edge of an extensive area of high, magnificent basins. I now had to descend to the saddle proper where there is a small pond of crystal clear water. I crossed the outlet and started up scree on the west slope of Buck Mountain. Not long after beginning up the west slope I began getting great views of Clark Mountain and the rest of the Dakobed Range.

Clark Mountain from the West Route of Buck Mountain

I dodged a few snow patches by skirting right to avoid dealing with the icy conditions they presented. After several hundred feet of scree, I finally reached the basin below the major summits of Buck Mountain. Hmmm. Beckey says the middle summit is "probably highest", but I know there is a summit register on the horn north of the the north summit, and possibly on the North Summit. Where to go first? 

The Middle Summit of Buck Mountain


The Horn and North Summit of Buck Mountain
(The horn and the N. summit both have summit registers...so which one is it?)

I decided to climb the middle summit even though the map shows it lower than the North Summit and horn. I ascended still more scree on the right side of the steep snow patch on the middle summit's NW flank. Once above the snow I traversed left a couple hundred feet to the bottom of a steep gully. I climbed this (class 3) to reach a notch in the ridge south of the middle summit. Once on the ridge I began scrambling toward the summit. The ridge is exposed, mostly class 3 with a couple short sections of class 4. There was no summit register here and it didn't seem higher than the north summit or the north horn. I was more than a bit surprised to see a large plume of smoke rising up from the SE (Little Giant Pass area).

Clark Mountain to Tenpeak Mountain from the Middle Summit
(Add Glacier Gap and Glacier Peak and you have the Dakobed Range)


The Horn and North Summit from the Middle Summit

After finding that a descent to the north was improbable without gear, I descended the way I had came up and returned to the basin below the summits. I crossed the rather low angled snow patch in the basin then up talus and easy rock to climb the north summit (class 2/3).

The Chiwawa River Wildfire from the North Summit of Buck Mountain

I small cairn marked the summit, which appears to be higher than the horn to the north. There is a mountaineers summit register here. I descended a gully of white rock until able to traverse to the notch between the north summit and the horn. From the notch I continued traversing about 100 feet then hiked to the horn (last 20 feet is class 3). I signed the second summit register...hmmm.

King Lake from the Horn

It was a little after 2:00pm when I arrived at the horn and given the wildfire burning only a few miles away, it seemed prudent to get back to the trailhead. I began the long descent, reaching the trail in about 2.5 hours. In another 1.5 hours I reached the trailhead (13 hours, 10 minutes round trip) where the rangers were swarming. There was a note on my windshield:

Level 3



You are advised to evacuate immediately by traveling back down the valley on the Chiwawa Road.

This road is a dead end road. There may be no personnel present to advise you whether it is safe to proceed down the road. Use extreme caution. If fire conditions near the road appear to be threatening your safety, proceed back up the road to Trinity.

If you choose to ignore this advisement, you must understand that emergency services may not be available. Roadblocks and 24-hour patrols will be established in the area.

Contact your family or other concerned individuals as soon as you are out and reach a phone.

Area radio stations have been asked to broadcast periodic updates.

For information call 509-548-6977.
Lake Wenatchee and Leavenworth Ranger Districts
Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forest




Cascade Alpine Guide, Volume 2, 2nd Edition; Fred Beckey; Pages 159-161-The photo on page 160 is helpful when arriving at the summit area