Pilot Peak

Elevation (feet): 7,088
Elevation (meters): 2,160
Continent: North America
Country: United States
Range/Region: Cascade Range
State: Washington
Latitude: 48.293615
Longitude: -121.134696
Difficulty: Scramble
Best months for climbing: Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct
Year first climbed: 1970
First successful climber(s): Gordon Fulks, Frank Head, Jim Lucke
Nearest major airport: Seattle
Convenient Center: Darrington

Thanks to Stefan Feller for adding this peak.

Dave and Mike B. already headed out at 7:15 while the rest of us left at 7:45. We headed up the Downey Creek trail to about 1760' and up the ridge to the ENE. The ridge went great. We encounter some down trees, which were no problem to go around. At ~3200' the snow covered the ground. We made great time and we met up with Dave and MikeB about 1200' feet below the summit. We came to the steep area as indicated by the map, it went without problem. Mitch was envious of my plan to do Pilot. We were making such great progress, he was ready to join me in going to Pilot. He talked to MikeB to have him call home to say he would be late. We reached the summit of Downey Mtn at 11:30. We enjoyed wonderfully clear skies breath-taking views. We identified countless surrounding peaks. Glacier and Dome were in full beauty in front of us.

Mitch started to waffle in joining my party going for Pilot. The route off Downey looked tricky. He look at the map and started to assessing the situation. If he goes, he will be wasted for Sunday's trip. After a while of deliberation, he said he would be happy with Downey Mtn.

We left the summit of Downey a little after noon. It was no problem descending to the col, then into the basin where we put snowshoes on. Mitch, MikeB and Dave enjoyed 2 hours on the summit. I would guess they were entertained by our progress as we continuing on and probably saying we were nuts. We choose to go to descend at the second col so the side-hilling and gain would be less. Around 1:00pm we crest the ridge and got are first views of Pilot. Wow. The views were super, picture postcard. However we had a bit of work to get Pilot. We determined the best route to be to contour to the ridge above Downey Lake, then follows the ridge to the summit. The snow was soft and it seemed to take forever to get to the ridge. We enjoy super views all the way.

Once on the ridge, we made great time. At ~6400' below Pilot we debated taking snowshoes off and following ridge. We tested the snow conditions and it was too soft to go without snowshoes. We talked about scrambling the bare rock, it looked like fun but could cost us time. We followed just below the ridge crest with snowshoes for the next 300+ feet to the crest, then on to the summit. The views were absolutely wonderful. For the first time in the day, the wind pickup some and it was cool with one layer. We enjoyed summit for a while. Found a register indicating ascents in 70, 71, 94, and 95. No John Roper record??? At 5:45 it was time to leave.

We follow the ridge back and then on to Pk 6640+. We reached this peak just before sunset. Another register was found with one person ascending the summit twice in a year. We waited anxiously for the color to appear. It was exciting to be in such a place at sunset, a rare moment in time. When can you sit on a summit in clear skies and fully winter beauty then watch a sunset. As sunset came, color faded. The color of the sunset was disappointing, Oh Well, until next time.

We left the summit of Pk6640+ at 8:30. Greg was a bit worried how we would get back. Matt on the other hand was still whining about the lack of color. We took off the snowshoes and glissaded 1500'+ to the forest below. The moon was 3/4 and it provided lots of light. We came out below the un-named lake north of Downey Mtn. It was no problem to descend the forest with a headlamp. We found the trail that Beckey referenced shortly after we left the snow. This trail looked like a build trail (not on any of my old maps). It switchbacked to the Downey Creek trail. The trail is about 2 miles in and can be found about 3 minutes past the stream coming down from the westside of Downey Mtn. Its about 30' past a series of 4-6 cut old 2-foot+ logs. The trail heads up about 80', then switchbacks. We arrived back at the cars at 11:30pm.

Everything basically went according to plan. Looking back, the worst part of the trip was coming back the Downey Creek Trail. Many big downed logs and several slides where the trail grade is lost. I think this trail is becoming lost and it should be re-designed as a "Route". I was tired but not trashed, yes, just tired. Our pace was not fast and we took plenty of breaks. Stats: 13 miles, 7300' gain, 15.75 hours, 4/24/99.

Thanks to Stefan Feller for this description.