Mount Index: West Ridge / Slope

Index Washington Climbs

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Mount Index, the most striking mountain visible along the entire length of Stevens Pass Highway, is a jagged spine rising abruptly from the Skykomish River Valley. The impossibly vertical and overhanging walls are gouged by steep avalanche gullies and soar thousands of feet above the steep-walled valley below. With a 5,000-foot plus vertical rise from the valley to the summit, Mount Index rivals many of the giants of the Cascade Range in sheer relief. It is an awesome sight to behold, at least from the Skykomish River Valley. From the Puget Sound lowlands, however, it is just another ordinary looking mountain, a rounded, forested, talus-strewn hump that is barely distinguishable from its neighbors. Despite impressive north and west faces, Mount Index is not a particularly appealing climb, at least not by its easiest routes, which are steep, brushy scrambles up forest slopes, snow gullies, and talus slides. But the mountain occupies such a commanding position above the confluence of the North Fork and South Fork of Skykomish River that it simply demands to be climbed. Fortunately, the scrambling routes are not difficult, at least not in a technical sense. Gated logging road gates and difficult lowland forest terrain pose the biggest obstacles to a successful ascent of Mount Index. Indeed, although more direct routes exist, many parties approach via a high ridge traverse from Mount Persis just to avoid hiking up brushy forest slopes. Ridge and summit views are spectacular, including nearby Baring Mountain and Gunn Peak, Mount Daniel, Mount Hinman, the Monte Cristo peaks, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and Glacier Peak, as well as distant views of Seattle and the Puget Sound lowlands, west to the Olympic Mountains, and of course, a vertigo-inducing look down the north face to the Skykomish River Valley.
Climbing Washington's Mountains

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Climbing Washington's Mountains

by Jeff Smoot (Falcon Publishing)

Mount Index, the most striking mountain visible along the entire length of Stevens Pass Highway, is a jagged spine rising abruptly from the Skykomish River Valley. The impossibly vertical and overhanging walls are gouged by steep avalanche gullies and soar thousands of feet above the steep-walled valley below. With a 5,000-foot plus vertical rise from the valley to the summit, Mount Index rivals many of the giants of the Cascade Range in sheer relief. It is an awesome sight to behold, at least from the Skykomish River Valley. From the Puget Sound lowlands, however, it is just another ordinary looking mountain, a rounded, forested, talus-strewn hump that is barely distinguishable from its neighbors. Despite impressive north and west faces, Mount Index is not a particularly appealing climb, at least not by its easiest routes, which are steep, brushy scrambles up forest slopes, snow gullies, and talus slides. But the mountain occupies such a commanding position above the confluence of the North Fork and South Fork of Skykomish River that it simply demands to be climbed. Fortunately, the scrambling routes are not difficult, at least not in a technical sense. Gated logging road gates and difficult lowland forest terrain pose the biggest obstacles to a successful ascent of Mount Index. Indeed, although more direct routes exist, many parties approach via a high ridge traverse from Mount Persis just to avoid hiking up brushy forest slopes. Ridge and summit views are spectacular, including nearby Baring Mountain and Gunn Peak, Mount Daniel, Mount Hinman, the Monte Cristo peaks, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and Glacier Peak, as well as distant views of Seattle and the Puget Sound lowlands, west to the Olympic Mountains, and of course, a vertigo-inducing look down the north face to the Skykomish River Valley.

©   Jeff Smoot/Falcon Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Index
Length: 11
Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Rating: Class 2 - 3
Duration: 6 - 8 hours trailhead to summit
Local Maps: USGS Mount Index; Green Trails # 142 (Index)
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