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Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 7,000+ feet
Summit Elevation: 7,433 feet
Access rating: Level 1
Snowking is a large glaciated mountain in the North Cascades, hidden from the driving public but obvious to the hiking community as it is always quite visible from local hikes. The mountain offers a classic North Cascades climb but since it is only a scramble, you don't have to bring all that extra climbing gear. If you are strong and the conditions are good, you could do this as a big day trip, 12-14 hours. For a more pleasant trip, consider it as an overnighter with camping in some really scenic meadows.
From Marblemount, drive 14.2 miles up the Cascade River Road and turn right on Kindy Creek Road (FR-1570). The road drops down to cross the Cascade River on a concrete bridge, about 0.4 miles beyond is a Y. Park here, the right fork is blocked by boulders and it is the road you want (parking spot shown on map). A bike might be handy for some of this road although there are washouts and trees across the road in places.
The blocked the road starts at 1200 feet, this gives you 3 miles of road walking at the start. Washouts just up the road will prevent the road from ever opening again so old trip reports of driving this road are out of date. At the end of the road walk, look for a trail in the trees to the left climbing very steeply uphill. The branches on this trail have overtaken the route so you basically duck your head and push upward. After 5 minutes of this, the trail enters old growth and becomes mostly brush free. The trail is a boot beaten path so it just goes uphill, over roots, rocks, etc. According to reports, the trail goes all the way...here is what one climber wrote: "after reaching the ridge top, the trail descends slightly as it passes E of point 5116, before climbing to the saddle just S of 5116. At this saddle there is an easy-to-miss trail junction. The main trail descends 800' to Found Lake, but you should turn left (S) and climb 1000' to the top of point 5791 on an improving trail. From 5791 the trail becomes faint as it descends through cliffs, then becomes easy to follow as it crosses over or nearly over a few more points to the vicinity of Cyclone Lake." This may help as well: "Soon a boggy area is reached, with a tent spot nearby (approximately 4,800 feet), after which the trail bears left and descends slightly. There is a trail junction at approximately 5,200 feet; the fishermans trail descends to the west toward Found Lake; instead make a left where the climbing path proceeds steeply up (south) to Point 5791"
If there is snow, you'll be on your own to work south, trying to avoid climbing up point 5116. Check your altimeter, I made mistakes on the way up and down because I didn't check, causing a lot of extra climbing. Once at the saddle, climb peak 5791. Near the summit you can traverse the west side just below the summit. This area is full of big rock obstacles, making things difficult at times. Drop down, then up, then down to the meadows above Cyclone Lake. There is good camping here. Continue on traversing below or going over the summit of Peak 5860. Take the easy east ridge of Snowking to the summit block. The southeast ridge looks to be best, followed it up, class 3.
Seriously, where's the snow!
Let the suffer-fest begin
Classic climbers trail
Things looking better
Reaching tree line the clouds departed
Looking back at peak 5791
Looking west from the summit
Eldorado Peak in the distance
Showing the ridgeline up to the summit (my tracks visible)
On the ridge with summit in view
The last 150 feet to the summit
Near the summit looking down
Panoramic east from 6,000 feet
Looking down to Found Lake
Some of the rocks just west of peak 5791 summit
Camp, Cyclone Lake and Snowking Mountain