Drive the Mountain Loop Highway to Barlow Pass. Park at the pass (2,360 ft). Walk the road to Monte Cristo for 4.2 miles & 400 feet to the townsite (2,760 ft). The Glacier Basin Trail leads to Glacier Falls in about 1.2 miles. From there, the trail climbs moderately up through a section of slick rocks and roots until finally leveling off. At this point the creek and trail turn sharply right to ascend past the back side of Mystery Hill. Continue about a mile to the upper reaches of Glacier Basin. You can pass the 4,500-ft timbered knoll at the center on either side. From Glacier Basin take the obvious center gully through the lower cliff bands. Later in the season once the snow has gone this will be a death slog up talus. At the constriction of the gully go right around the wall above. Turn left around the backside of the wall and trudge up steep snow (to 45 degrees) for a few hundred feet to the col (6,760+ ft). The col is a beautiful place to take in the views. In particular, walk north from the col 100 feet or so to get a view of Columbia Peak through the gap to the west. From the col, contour south on snow or possibly talus to the base of the summit cliffs. Look for a break in the cliffs offering the easiest way up. Beware of moat issues. The step across can be intimidating or even impossible. Also, the later in the season this climb is done, the more (lower) the snow has receded. You may need to do as much as fifty feet more of rock climbing (probably 4th Class). The chimney is evidenced by the many aid slings dangling there and an old rusty piton (if you find it). The chimney requires three moves of Class 5 (5.6, 5.2, 5.6) for maybe 30 feet then the terrain is merely scrambling all the way to the summit. The first chimney move is right off the deck so exposure is not an issue. It requires a sort of stemming/smearing action--not the easiest thing to do in boots. The second move makes use of an indentation in the chimney. An aid sling above can be used if necessary. The third move has the leader scratching his/her way from the upper crack over a bulge to flatter ground above. Some loose handholds don't help. About 25 feet farther on there is a rappel anchor. Set up a belay here and bring up your second. From the rap anchor a steepish ramp leads left. Snow whales may occupy parts of this ramp, their run-off slickening the slabs. The ramp ends in about 100 feet. You can rope up for the ramp but it might be just as easy to leave it at the rap anchor. Beyond the ramp the terrain is merely Class 3 scrambling for about 100 vertical feet. There is some Class 4 to be found but the rock is so shitty you couldn't place any protection anyway. The Class 4 is avoidable and/or manageable.
|Driving Distance from Portland
|Driving Time from Portland
|Car to car in two or more days
|Climbing Washington's Mountains by Jeff Smoot Cascade Alpine Guide: Stevens Pass to Rainy Pass by Fred Beckey
|USGS 7 minute series, Blanca Lake, Green Trails #143 Monte Cristo <href="http: "="" adventure="" c463="" starts-here="" title="On the Mazama Climbing and Hiking map page " www.mazamas.org="" your="">On the Mazama Climbing and Hiking map page <href="http: maps.google.com="" maps?f="q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Monte+Cristo+Peak+WA&sll=41.421885,-111.517428&sspn=0.008978,0.022745&ie=UTF8&ll=47.971508,-121.341205&spn=0.016032,0.04549&t=p&z=15&iwloc=addr"" title="Google map">Google map</href="http:></href="http:>