Cover Photo: Saulius approaching the final ridge to the summit of Mailbox Peak.
A few days ago I was on Facebook (geez now Meta) scrolling through the Pacific NorthWest Peakbaggers group and saw Michael DuBois’ selfie post on the summit of Mailbox Peak. Mike is known to some as Mailbox Mike- MM, as he has supposedly summited the grind well over 200 times! I suspect it’s closer to 300. I replied with a cheeky response to his selfie post – Where are you Mike, to which he replied “Shut Up” with a kiss emoji. Oh, how sweet – Oh Mailbox Mike!
This exchange somehow resulted in the brilliant idea to climb the said peak again however by its North Ridge, a little known and less frequent route. I have come across three trip reports in the past several years, one last week by fellow climber friend Erik Schulz who decided to go it alone and tempt us with an unexplored bounty of delights!
So the day prior, Saul ran a marathon and then spent time in the climbing gym, while Mike merely sent 10 ascents up Mailbox Peak the prior week. I climbed the Cable Route up West Tiger 3 – whoo whee! Here comes the fun train – choo choo!
We started early with a 7 AM queue of the MBP North Lot, awaiting the ranger to open the game to the upper parking lot. We were first in (and last out) and greeted by a herd of elk – I had no idea we had elk so close and down low to the Middle Fork.
We started up the Granite Creek connector trail that parallels both the Middle Fork Road and River for 3.5 miles and up to an elevation of 1700 feet. Our route from here on would be straight up the ridge, bushwhacking through blowdowns, and navigating some steep off-road terrain.
We made our way directly up the ridge, keeping right on the line, which was easy even without any navigation aids as the dropoff and daylight were clearly visible on both sides. The forest was fairly open in the initial few hundred feet, but became more brushy and also chock full of blowdowns as we gained altitude.
The ridge route was actually moderately challenging navigating all the blowdowns, requiring us to climb up and over large old logs, up stumps, under brush, and across soft bark-like terrain. We took a few long breaks – this route is about the same grade as the old mailbox trail, however, there is no trail and often the path was slow-moving.
Around 4000 feet we encountered persistent snow on the forest floor. After while, we donned our microspikes.
The route up the ridge up the final 800 feet was snow-covered, devoid of the thick trees, and made for good kick-stepping.