For my last birthday in the Eastern part of the state, I wanted to do a fall hike in a place with the golden Lyall’s Larch. Unfortunately, I got pretty sick right before my birthday weekend. I recovered enough by the weekend to go for a hike, but we decided not to opt for an epic day on Prusik Peak considering my health and probable snow showers. Hoodoo Peak and Raven Ridge in the much less popular Sawtooth Mountains seemed like a great alternative that would offer fun scrambling, tons of larches, and much fewer people.
We woke up early in Spokane and began the journey across the Columbia Basin to the Methow Valley. I have become very familiar with this drive during my time at Gonzaga. We pulled up to the trailhead right around sunrise and began hiking under clear skies. The trail to Libby Lake was pretty easy and quickly we got high enough that we entered the larch zone.
At the rocky shores of Libby Lake, we took a break before scrambling up the gully to Raven Ridge. The gully was very loose and not terribly fun, so helmets were a good choice. However, our views over the Methow Valley were inspiring.
At the top of the gulley, we turned left and scrambled some easy terrain over some false summits to the high point of Raven Ridge. It was pretty cold and windy with snow flurries, so we hunkered down in a cave to eat a snack.
Next, we began the traverse to Hoodoo Peak. All I read online was that you could traverse between the two peaks and there might be some 4th class and intense exposure. The first half of the ridge was easy enough. The snow stopped and the sun came out.
When the ridge took a right turn towards Hoodoo, it got steeper and more knife-edged. This had some fun 4th class scrambling. The rock was solid and the views stellar.
Suddenly, we came across an overhang in the ridge about 10 feet tall. It looked like maybe you could go way down and around left, but that would be tedious. Above, there appeared to be a rappel anchor. Interesting! I had not read about 5th class on this traverse, but you never quite know what Cascade “4th class” will entail!
I approached the overhang and found a good hold up high. Leaning back, I was able to heel hook my running shoes into a crack and pull the move. I would say it was at least a solid 5.7 boulder problem! Kylie tried to follow me up, but was not tall enough to make the move. So I downclimbed, and then helped her up from below by pushing her up basically. After this, the traverse eased off into a basin beneath Hoodoo Peak.
The rest of the way to Hoodoo Peak was mostly class 2 boulders, but we stayed on the edge of the ridge for some fun 3rd and 4th class scrambling. The rock was stable and sticky, making for incredible scrambling!
At the summit of Hoodoo Peak, we encountered the first people all day! We knew that if we had gone to Prusik in the Enchantments, we would have seen hundreds by this point.
An easy scramble down the side of Hoodoo led us back to the trail, and we hiked out by dark. This was truly a wonderful day of scrambling and fall larches. Thanks to Kylie for driving the long hours to make my birthday wish come true! Ultimately, I am glad we did not go to Prusik Peak as we got to see new terrain and spend time together in solitude. Every time I go to the Sawtooth, I feel like I have an authentic wilderness experience, away from people and the bustle of the west side. I will miss coming to this forgotten part of the Cascades in the future.
- Unless you go around the boulder problem, there is some undeniable 5th class in the traverse. From Hoodoo to Raven, you could rappel that short section with 30 ft of rope. But Raven to Hoodoo does not require a rope (if you can send it) and is more fun.
- The rock is generally very good for the Sawtooth except for the gully leading up to Raven Ridge from Libby Lake. Bring a helmet for that one.
- If I were to do only Raven Ridge or Hoodoo, I would do Hoodoo.