The peak we decided to climb today is officially named Dickerman Mountain but it is more commonly referred to as Mount Dickerman. Nowadays even guidebooks often stray from the official designation. The mountain is located in the heart of the western section of the Cascade mountain range in the neighborhood of gurgling streams, deep forests and rugged summits. It promises to take hikers to breathtaking views but your breath will likely be taken away far before you reach the summit. The trail climbs nearly 4000 ft in 4 miles.
It all starts with switchbacks through a dense forest. You will be surrounded by scenery typical to Cascade Mountains – ferns and mosses thriving in the shadow of giant trees and if you come in the spring you will be surrounded by flowering dwarf dogwood and trilliums.
At about 2 miles the break in the trees offers first view of Big Four, a significant mountain mass across the valley. Shortly afterwards a flatter section is reached that traverses a broad shoulder from the southeast flanks of the mountain to the west ridge. Then it’s back to climbing. The route follows the ridge before spitting you in open meadows, the first area with extended views. Across the valley you will now see the striking summits of Monte Cristo, Del Campo, Sperry, Vesper and once again the impressive Big Four. It’s thanks to these views you hardly notice the grade steepens as you switchback your way up to the broad summit, and more incredible views.
Mount Dickerman and I have a long history. I first attempted to climb the mountain in spring of 2007 but a weak snowbridge did not allow for a safe creek crossing at that time. Questionable weather, and somewhat late start made us turn some 800 feet below the summit the second time. Third time we made it within 400 ft of the top where deep snow and worsening visibility shattered our hope. In 2013 more than 6 years after I first placed my foot on a trail, I finally conquered the mountain. Now I am ready to even the score.
It is suppose to be a nice day in the mountains today and the number of cars parked at the trailhead matches the forecast. Some hikers are trying to tag the summit before winter closes access to the area, some are here in a search of snow. For December there is not much of it around. Dickerman is one of the summits that is rumored to have enough to convey the feel of magical winter wonderland.
It takes us a while to find the snow. There are traces of it here and there but it’s not until we start traversing towards the west ridge that it accumulated in any significant amount. At this time the sun burns off the morning fog and creates sparkles on the surface of the powder. It snowed here recently, the trees are still dressed in their white coats and around the path the snow is pristine. It’s beautiful. And through the beauty we walk all the way to the mountain top.
Distance: 8.2 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 3,950 ft