Robinson Mountain-Southeast Ridge

It was looking like Veterans Day was going to be a dry one and being a Veteran it seemed like I should take full advantage of it. I decided to head over to the east side for a fall scramble up a top 100 heap of rubble. Robinson looked moderately interesting. Even Beckey called the SE Ridge route a “classic scramble.” I expected there to be some new snow on the route. Not enough to cause problems but enough to give that late season feel to the Washington Pass area.

Robinson Mountain from Goat Peak (11/12/04)

I had initially planned on making it a two day trip but decided that I should be able to complete the route in a day. It was, however, a long day with more that 6200’ of elevation gain and covering a distance of about 14 miles it took me about 10 hours round trip. Leaving the Robinson Creek Trailhead (c.2600’) at 6:00am, I hiked the first mile of the Robinson Creek Trail in the dark. After crossing Beauty Creek (c.2 miles, c.3600’), the second major bridge on the trail, I located the non-maintained trail that leads north along the west side of Beauty Creek. While the trail is not maintained it was easy to follow and was in good condition. After about two miles on this trail I reached an opening. Just beyond a small feeder stream (c.5200’) I turned west up open slopes. The open slope eventually gave way to small trees but there was enough snow to cover any brush that might have been below. I reached a small heart shaped tarn at c.6700’ (the source of the feeder stream).

The snow was less consolidated here and I weighed my options. There is an obvious point (+8280’) NW of the tarn that could be mistaken as the summit if you got too optimistic. I wasn’t fooled... for long. Snow led up a moderate slope to the left of the point. Assuming that the snow on this slope would be no more consolidated that the snow at the tarn, I decided to hike north up a scree slope to a minor saddle in the SE Ridge of Robinson.

Silver Star to Golden Horn from the SE Ridge

I reached the saddle (c.7600’) and started up the ridge on a mix of scree, unconsolidated snow and occasionally some easy scrambling. Just before reaching the +8280’ point, I heard something moving and caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. I had seen porcupines before but I had never seen one this close or this high. It seemed a bit out of place on this desolate ridge especially for the time of year. It nosed its way into a small depression in the rock leaving only its well defended buttocks exposed.

A porcupine takes cover at c.8000' on the SE ridge

After a final scramble I reached the +8280’ point and the summit still looked a long way off. It was actually only about a half mile away, most of which was easy hiking along the SE ridge. Finally, I reached a small notch in the ridge just before the last false summit. It looked like it was going to be difficult at first. From the notch I descended slightly then traversed the south side to the first minor rib. I scrambled up this until able to regain the SE Ridge. The ridge was narrow and a bit exposed for the next 50 feet or so (class 2/3). From there it was back to easy hiking the remaining distance to the summit.

The summit from the first false summit

I spent about a half hour absorbing the warm sun and the good views before starting back down. Upon reaching the +8280’ point I decided to head directly to the tarn. I headed south for 100-200 yards where it was easy to get onto the snow slope below (35 degrees near the top). I plunged through 3 or more feet of snow at times and was glad I had not attempted to ascend this way. It would have been exhausting. I made it back to the trailhead a little before 4:00pm, happy that I wasn’t ending the day with my headlamp on.

A view to the west from Robinson Mountain

Descending into the Beauty Creek drainage, Gardner and North Gardner in the background

Cascade Apline Guide, Volume 3, 2nd Edition; Fred Beckey; Page 211
75 Scrambles in Washington; Peggy Goldman; Pages 82-83

USGS Robinson Mtn Quadrangle
Green Trails, Washington Pass-NO 50