Mount Kent attempt
- Elevation gain: 3500 feet
- Miles: 6 round trip
- Total time: 7 hours round trip
Peter and I decided to take a morning hike to look at Mount Kent. This very interesting peak isn’t mentioned in the normally comprehensive Cascade Alpine Guide, but it probably should be. Mount Kent presents a steep north facing wall to drivers on interstate 90. It is visible just east of McClellan’s Butte, and is just as impressive in it’s way. I first heard about the peak when Phil F. and Dave B. climbed a steep line last January. They also reported that Dallas Kloke made the first ascent of the face in 1994 via an “obvious gully.” We also knew that Eric Hoffman had climbed a gully on the east face and named it “Eric’s Couloir.”
We didn’t bring a rope, and just figured we’d find the easiest way up. As it turned out we both forgot our watches, so we spent a lot more time than we should have! We quickly hiked to the logging road that crosses the McClellan’s Butte trail, and turned left. The bushwhack up Alice Creek didn’t look appealing, so we continued on a spur which obligingly entered the valley below the face. We dropped down when the road ended and crossed Alice Creek, heading straight up for a nice looking gully on the left side of the north face. As we climbed it, we thought it might be Eric’s Gully, but later found that was further to the east. In times of avalanche hazard, this would be a dangerous place, as debris filled the whole basin, and the couloir in particular.
We climbed without crampons, though occasionally they would have been helpful on the chunky debris buried under a covering layer of snow. The angle was a pretty steady 45 to 50 degrees. The couloir is entered at about 3600 feet and climbed to a headwall blocking the way at 4200 feet. Here we traversed left 50 feet to steep but forested slopes that gained a ridge. From here we kept climbing to a false summit at 4700 feet, with the true summit a quarter mile away at 5087 feet. Even without watches we knew we should head back from our “Dawn Patrol” morning trip!
We climbed down and enjoyed an awesome 600 foot glissade down the couloir. We continued down to the valley bottom and hiked directly to the road along Alice Creek. The easiest way is to stay on the west side of the creek and piece together open areas. Travel near the creek is more tedious, so if you can stay 50-100 feet above it is quicker. We named the gully the “Dawn Couloir,” and it seems to be a great way up or down the mountain, provided snow conditions are stable.