FEB
12
2017

WEST GRANITE Mountain Route: South Side (snowshoe)

Category: Washington       Trip Report #: 239
Partners: Gabriel Deal, Brett Dyson, Eric Eames, Lindsay Malone, Michael Radin, Carla Schauble
Rock Type: Granitic
Summit Elev:
 5,566 ft

A popular summit (for good reason!) close to Seattle.

Snowshoeing up the south ridge of West Granite Mountain. (Pictured in photo: Lindsay, Eric, Carla, Brett in distance.)

INTRO

This page contains some photos from a mid-winter Sunday snowshoe to the summit of West Granite Mountain. There were seven of us on this trip: Brett, Gabriel, Lindsay, Carla, Rad, Eric, and me. As usual, everyone else was from Seattle while I drove down from Bellingham (but also as usual, it was worth the drive.) West Granite Mountain (also known as "Tusk O'Granite") is the high point on the ridge to the northwest of Granite Mountain just off I-90 at Exit 47. West Granite is just 65 feet lower in elevation than Granite Mountain.

With its proximity to Seattle, the lookout on the top of Granite Mountain, and the views of Chair and Kaleetan Peaks to the north, Rainier to the south, as well as mountains all the way to Lemah, Chimney Rock, and Mt. Stuart, the Granite Mountain area is an extremely popular destination. On a summer day, the summit of Granite can be quite crowded. A great way to avoid the crowds is in the winter, when a great day can be had by snowshoeing to one of the Granite Mountain summits (or both, by connecting the ridge between them). Although the lookout on top of Granite seems to make it the obvious choice, often the choice of which summit to go to is determined by the snow conditions — while the timbered ridge of West Granite is safe most days of the winter, the open slopes of Granite Mountain are subject to dangerous snow slides.

Because of the moderate to considerable avalanche forecast, we chose West Granite as our destination for the day. No one had been up there the previous day, so we had a pristine ridgeline to enjoy as we cut tracks to the summit. It was a pleasant calm day with great views and great company.

MAP and STATS


Total trip: ~8 miles, ~3700 ft gain/loss, ~5.5 hours hiking + 1 hour on summit
  • 7:19 AM : Sun rises
  • 7:41 AM : 1,875 FT : Leave Trailhead
  • 11:00-12:00 PM : 5,566 FT : Summit West Granite
  • 2:10 PM : 1,875 FT : Arrive back at Trailhead
  • 5:29 PM : Sun sets

PHOTOS

Granite Mountain itself has some open slopes that are subject to avalanches. The timbered ridge of West Granite is a safer choice when snow conditions are questionable. Just 65 feet lower than Granite Mountain, West Granite Mountain has just as awesome views (but, however, lacks the lookout tower).
Ascending the timbered slopes of West Granite Mountain.
The final bit of ridge to the top of West Granite Mountain.
Ascending the pleasant ridgeline to the top of West Granite Mountain.
Ascending the pleasant ridgeline to the top of West Granite Mountain. (Pictured in photo: Lindsay, Eric, Carla, Brett in distance.)
Ascending the pleasant ridgeline to the top of West Granite Mountain. Views of Rainier in the distance.
On the summit of West Granite Mountain.
On the summit of West Granite Mountain.
On the summit of West Granite Mountain, looking towards Granite Mountain.
Looking over towards Granite Mountain from the summit of West Granite.
Looking over towards Granite Mountain from the summit of West Granite.
A closer view of the lookout tower on the top of Granite Mountain. If slope conditions had been more stable, we would have traversed the ridge to the lookout.
A closer view of the lookout tower on the top of Granite Mountain. I'll have to check it out someday. I just don't make it down to I-90 much.
Kaleetan Peak to the north.
Chimney-Overcoat area to the northeast.
And of course, Rainier to the south.
Another view of Granite Mountain on the descent of West Granite.
The wind-sculpted ridge of Granite Mountain on the descent of West Granite.
A pleasant warm afternoon on our snowshoe back down the ridge of West Granite Mountain. What a nice way to spend a Sunday.