Hiked Mount Ellinor via the upper trailhead and the winter route up today, and the summer route down in beautiful bluebird conditions!
Road Beta: Snow free to lower TH. Past this, there is snow and ice as the road appears to be in the shade most of the day. If you have a decent 4X4/AWD, don’t let this deter you. The road becomes bare and very drivable. I went past the TH to Washington, and the hairpin turn to the upper TH prior to turning around as my hiking partner did not like the road conditions. Initially, past the hairpin turn, it looked dicey, but becomes bare and wet for at least half the road. You can go about 3/4 of the way in a decent, high clearance, AWD, 4WD – I saw at the top trailhead, a 3rd Gen 4Runner and built Toyota Tacoma pickup. The last pic shows the road condition just below the upper TH. You will need a high clearance, lifted vehicle to make it. A Subaru with MaxxBoards was parked about 3/4 of the way up the road, and a Honda Pilot reversed down the road as I never saw it parked. The center snow pile is difficult to clear. If you drive vehicles similar to those in the last pic, you can make it all the way up. Otherwise, you can park about 3/4 of the way up in a usual good trail car. The road was frozen and slick in the AM, and a Ford Pickup was in the ditch past the lower TH. Drive beware.
The winter route is in super condition. Cold, frozen, icy and packed. We saw many post holes from a prior day – must have been a calorie, thigh-burning, suffer-fest. The snow was icy, crunchy, and solid with proper traction. We opted for summer climbing boots and 12 points. Made the way up much more manageable, much like driving up in our 4X4 rig with no slippage. We used poles all the way up. Carried axes and some MSR snowshoes just for extra weight. Some folks had microspikes, some shared a single pair, saw some cool short snowshoes, and one or two somehow scrambling up in only boots. Honestly, I am shocked, amazed, and impressed at how some people get up, but they do. I slip and slide on most things – forget about ice and snow, I find wet dirt, rocks, and logs a hazard to my joints, knees, and face when I plant, so I am overly aggressive on my traction. My advice – aggressive microspikes and poles at a minimum. Do wear gaiters for the occasional posthole or tree well. The summer route had a single summit when we got to the top, and about 5 of us took the route down. Easy plunge stepping down. Good tracks and boot steps were left, and about 6 people were on the way up as we descended, so I expect both routes prior to new snowfall will be in very good condition – very firm bootpack. Get up while you can. Video, GPX, and more pics of the route in the additional links below.
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