Summit Elevation (m): 2646
Elevation Gain (m): 1000
Round Trip Time (hr): 5.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 9.5
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2/3 – you fall, you sprain or break something
Difficulty Notes: Much more difficult when done in the winter, which introduces more route finding and some avalanche risk, else it’s mainly a hike.
Technical Rating: OT5; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
Kev Papke was getting close to his year-long, 50 peak fundraising effort and was in need of 4 peaks in 4 weekends in order to fill the 50 peak ‘order’. The weekend of February 23/24 wasn’t looking great for anything too aggressive and since Kev could only go on the 23rd our options became even more limited. I don’t do ski mountaineering if avalanche likelihood is either ‘considerable’ or ‘high’, so any ski trips were pretty much out of favor.
I broke down and did a snowshoe trip… I even have to admit that it was rather enjoyable! I still stand firmly by my motto of skiing anything that’s remotely skiable rather than ‘wasting’ it on snowshoes but for our objective I don’t think skis are ever appropriate. Red Ridge has been on my radar for a while and this was the perfect weekend to try it. A posting on Clubtread proved invaluable for finding an old track from the parking area and this made a potential SLOG into a very enjoyable winter hike / scramble.
As we drove by the parking area mentioned on ClubTread we could see a very faint snowshoe track going into the forest from the road. This proved very fortunate and we managed to follow a great track with firm base all the way to tree line. Instead of a 2+ hour thrash in knee-deep sugar we got a 1 hour uphill hike.
Once we hit the ridge we lost the trail. We soon discovered why. WIND… Being a ridge in K Country means it catches a lot of wind and this particular day was no different than most. We stuck to the snow as much as possible until maybe half way up the ridge from tree line to summit where we finally dropped the ‘shoes. Make sure you don’t drop them too early or you’ll be wallowing in waist deep snow. Also make sure you’re prepared for the elevation roller coaster on Red Ridge! I wasn’t fully prepared for the ups and downs and it got old after the 3rd or 4th one. There’s at least 4 major elevation loss / gains on the way up to the summit. On hindsight they’re not THAT major, but with cold wind and snow they felt like it after a while.
Red Ridge is easy enough to do in winter and probably safe enough to do solo if you’re comfortable with solo outings in the winter. I would highly recommend AGAINST trying to ski this peak – you’ll spend way too much time wallowing in sugary, unsupportive snow and then you’ll be in ski boots on the ridge for over 2 hours of ascent. This is a prime example of why snowshoes were invented for winter scrambles.