Statlu Peak

Elevation Gain: 998m
Distance: 7.59km
Total Time: 6 hours 23 minutes
Date: December 12th, 2023

Jacob and I had been planning to take a mid-week day off before he flew back to Ontario for the holidays, but hadn’t put anything on paper yet. By some luck, the Tuesday was going to be immaculate weather with low avi danger. The kicker is that there was a thin snow pack everywhere. Enough snow to put most funner technical objectives off my radar, but too little to do a big bushwhack type of adventure. Jacob initially proposed Blinch Peak, but it’s seen a lot of traffic recently so I was hoping to explore a new route or summit that hadn’t received a lot of attention lately. The Blinch idea had me thinking about Chehalis now though and after perusing the maps I came up with Mount Wardrop. Service roads appeared to run all the way to the summit ridge, but there’s not much beta on this peak. The added bonus is that there’s a gate on Statlu Creek, that if closed, would only add 2km each way to the trip.

As we got deeper into the stages of planning, I started to realize that Statlu Peak might actually be reachable from the East side if the gate was open. Recent road reports showed not too much snow on Chehalis FSR. That meant we could at least get to the gate, if it’s open go as far as possible and if that’s still not close enough then fall back to our Wardrop plan. Statlu itself saw quite a few parties reach its summit in 2022, but all from the West side. Based on road data in for South Statlu FSR I had a feeling we could get quite close and avoid unnecessary bushwhacking. Jacob was stoked on Statlu as well, since it’d actually provide nice views compared to Wardrop.

We left Vancouver at ~5am and after a quick A&W pit stop drove our way down Chehalis. The road conditions ended up better than expected with virtually no snow. As we rounded the corner to the Statlu Creek junction a wide-open red gate slid into view and we knew we were a go. Now the question is how far could we get? Well, tire tracks had cleared the snow and left dry road bed underneath for the majority of the route and after 20 minutes we had made it all the way to kilometer one of South Statlu FSR! The next corner looked icy and we were only 1km to our proposed route start, so we parked there.

Statlu Peak in the early morning light
Heading down the road

As we started our walk down the road it became apparent we could have driven all the way, but at least this way we get a bit more exercise. We walked briefly up a short spur road around the 2km mark and then launched up into the cutblock. As far as cut blocks are concerned this one was quite wide and open. As a result, we reached the second growth forest beyond with ease. The second growth forest provided the next big surprise. It was actually wide open with little bush.

Looks like we could have driven further after all
Going up this spur road now
The cut block
Into the second growth
Looking back down Statlu Creek valley area
Jacob coming up through the forest

Looking around I noticed tons of 3-6″ tree stumps littering the forest floor. It became clear that perhaps some sort of pruning had occurred making for very tame bushwhacking. We didn’t encounter any difficulties until the first road crossing at ~780m but it was a short stretch of alder crossing before we were in open second growth again. As we reached the second section of road at roughly 900m our open forest ride was over. We put snowshoes on and then followed the road for about 200m before diverting to climber’s right in the hopes of more open woods. However, here the dense new growth had not been pruned and it made for more challenging bushwhacking.

Evidence of all the pruning
Hitting the first section of road at ~780m
Open forest again
The second section of road
Jacob showcasing the density
Escaping the road up through this
An opening in the ridge revealed some nice valley views

The difficulties only lasted for another 300m and then we were out of the cut block and on to open ridge. We followed the ridge all the way to the base of the final summit slope and then picked a straightforward line up through the trees. We had great views towards the West with Judge Howay, Robie Reid, Roberston et all. To the North Stonerabbit, Ratney and Bardean and a host of other peaks to the East. Well worth the bushwhacking.

Out of the cut block
Jacob breaking trail ahead
The ridge starting to open up
Our summit in sight
Mount Jasper across the valley
Myself heading towards the summit
Jacob ascending up the final summit slope
Nice views towards Mount Catherwood
Robie Reid, Mount Kranrod and Mount Judge Howay behind Mount Kettley
Stonerabbit, Mount Ratney and Mount Bardean are the big summits behind Mount Jasper

We hung out for 30 minutes and then headed down, following our tracks back. The denser bushwhacking section was easy on the downhill. We only really struggled around the tree wells in the upper forest and wherever the snow was thin enough to cover slippery roots with little support.

Heading down
Back on the road

Once the snow shoes were off past the road, we had a fast descent all the way back to South Statlu FSR and reached the truck well before dark. All told, it was an awesome day out and the East side approach seems to cut off quite a few kilometers with much less bushwhacking. If the gates open, I think this might be a preferential option!

Jacob in the lower sections of the forest
The end

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