| Two hikes near Silverton
"V5" – 13,156
South Lookout Peak – 13,380
From Clear Lake: 4.4 mi, 2500 ft
"Stony Pass Peak" – 13,165
Canby Mountain – 13,478
From Stony Pass: 2.1 mi, 1400 ft
"V5" and South Lookout Peak are both located within a mile of Clear Lake which is situated between the Ice Lake area and Ophir Pass. South Lookout has an intimidating reputation. Ormes recommends bringing a rope and says that although there is a route that isn't 5th class, route finding is difficult and the rock is junk. Rosebrough has two confusing route descriptions and says that he'd never attempt the peak again without a rope and pro. I was hoping that like most other peaks it would seem a lot easier than I imagined once I was face to face with it. We brought a rope and hoped for the best.
The 4WD road that starts from the South Mineral Creek road and climbs all the way to the Clear Lake is steep but mellow – any vehicle with more clearance than a car will have no problems. There is plenty of room for camping up there.
We set off from the lake at 4:40am, heading first toward the easier peak of the two – "V5". From below it had looked like the summit was well guarded by cliffs except for on its southeast side where a long, gentle ridge juts out. An old road that climbs up the southwest face provides easy access to the ridge. We followed this road until around 12,500 ft and then hiked northeast up steep, grassy slopes to the notch in the ridge about 0.1 miles southeast of the summit. A vertical tower is situated on the north side of the notch. We bypassed it on the west side where we found a cairn or two and climbed up a short gully to the ridge crest. From there it was an easy hike to the summit. We arrived at 6:05, just in time for sunrise.
We didn't really have a great plan for getting from V5 to South Lookout. We'd been hoping that we could find a weakness in the cliffs right below the summit of V5 so we didn't have to backtrack, but upon inspection I found nothing that was suitable – nothing but dangerously steep, loose gullies. We climbed back up toward the ridge and followed it back to the notch. The easiest and surest way to get to South Lookout would have been to drop back down to the old road and traverse on grassy slopes below the ridge between V5 and South Lookout (it wouldn't have required a whole lot of elevation loss). The ridge itself looked questionable. Not surprisingly, we decided to give it a try, hoping that if we had to bail we wouldn't have to backtrack too much.
From the notch we descended west and gained V5's northwest ridge just past the summit area's difficulties and then traversed toward South Lookout Peak, sticking to the ridge crest. There were a few spots that were worrying, but we always found a reasonable path without too much looking (never exceeded 3rd or easy 4th class). It would be hard to bail from this ridge in some sections though. The ridge gets more gnarly past the V5 – South Lookout saddle and would have definitely been a time drain so we traversed along the south side of the ridge on grassy slopes from here to South Lookout's southern summit.
This is where the fun begins. From the southern summit we gazed at the steep tower(s) to the north. It was hard to say where the true summit actually was and everything looked 5th class. We spied a route or two that we might be willing to try if necessary, but agreed that we should look for an easier way first. We descended down off the southern summit (approximately 100 ft) and traversed to the east side of the towers on loose junk. Immediately around the corner we saw a very steep gully that looked climbable – certainly a lot better than what we'd seen on the south side. The entrance to the gully is at 13,220 ft. We donned our helmets and started up. The gully was really loose and Dwight (who went first) was kicking down all kinds of rocks (inevitable) so I stayed put off to the side out of the way. Even though I could have started climbing once he had moved off to the other side of the gully, it wasn't easy climbing and the sound of falling rocks next to me as I was trying to concentrate on climbing was freaking me out.
Once Dwight was finished climbing, I made him swear he wasn't going to move around any more and then started up myself. I began climbing the left side of the gully and then traversed over to the right side part way up. I'm bad at rating things, but I'd say it was hard, scarily loose, 4th class. Dwight can chime in here. There was a spot or two where I was starting to feel slightly uncomfortable. At the top we found some webbing on a rock protruding from the side of the gully. The large rock looked to be in a precarious position, but it was probably well anchored and at least one party had rappelled from it (I assume they lived).
From the top of the gully it was easy going and after walking around it was easy to determine which tower was the highest. A short 4th or very low 5th class climb up the east-southeast face on bomber rock and we were standing on the summit! Well, that wasn't so bad, was it? It seemed like it had taken a long time to get here but my watch said it was only 9am. We took a half hour break and got some good views of Lookout Peak by Ophir Pass which we had plans to climb the following day.
After half an hour we decided to head back. This is the part I'd been dreading. If I feel slightly uncomfortable climbing up something that usually means I feel much more uncomfortable down climbing it. We had a rope along, but there were a few problems with rappelling: 1) our rope wasn't long enough to get us all the way to the bottom, meaning we'd have to land somewhere part way down and down climb the rest or try to find a reasonable anchor – good luck! 2) the existing anchor a the top of the gully looked sketchy to say the least and 3) a rope brushing against the walls of the gully would have caused some nasty rock fall. We decided to give the down climb a try before resorting to a rappel. It took a long time (almost half an hour) as we were being super careful, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd imaged. For some reason it actually felt better than the up climb for me. I think the opposite was true for Dwight though as he seemed to be perfectly comfortable climbing up it and a little hesitant while climbing down. Needless, to say, this gully is a serious undertaking and I'd recommend bringing a rope. I think there are better rappels from the summit that avoid this gully, especially if you have a longer rope (ours was only 30m).
The hike out was uneventful and we were back to the car by 11 – not too early for some beers. I hadn't had enough hiking though and was already thinking of a possible short evening hike later that day. Dwight didn't seem all that interested, but said he'd go wherever and just hang out while I hiked.
We drove to Silverton and had some lunch (and more beer of course). It was still early so we decided to check out the Stony Pass area just outside of Silverton. From the map, it looked like a road would get us to the pass and from there it would be a short hike to either "Stony Pass Peak" or Canby Mountain. It would probably storm soon, but we planned on driving around to check out the roads and maybe wait until after the storms to climb something.
The road to Stony Pass is great. I don't know if I car could make it up there, but anything else certainly could. When we got there, there were probably hundreds of sheep grazing and nothing but a couple of dogs watching over them. The skies were still looking fairly promising and since both peaks were so close to the road it made sense to give at least one of them a try. Dwight, apparently rejuvenated from the beer, decided he was going to join me for both.
We left the car at 1:33 and made a beeline for "Stony Pass Peak" which meant we had to pass through the herd of sheep. It was a little freaky at first, but they got out of our way and let us through. The dogs kept a very close eye on us, but eventually left us alone when they realized we weren't going to hurt the sheep. We were feeling pretty strong and after 26 minutes we were standing on the summit! This has got to be the easiest 13er I've ever climbed! In no time we were back at Stony Pass. Dwight was wearing his desert hat and looked kind of like a sheep herder so I made a cool video of Dwight the sheep herder on the way back.
The weather was still holding so up Canby we went. We gained the northwest ridge and followed it to the summit. Boy, another hard one. This one took a whole 37 minutes to get up! We felt a few sprinkles, so didn't stay very long. After 18 minutes we were back at the pass. It never stormed.
pictures & map for round 1:
pictures & map for round 2: