Climb the Brothers (South Climb)

Washington Lena Lake Trail #810

Added by Wells Preston

  • Distance: 17 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation gain: 6,062 ft.
  • Challenging climb
  • Rugged landscape
  • Beautiful campsites
  • Remoteness
  • Mountain goats

The Brothers is a notable peak on the border of Olympic National Park. The dual summits are a distinguishing feature of the Olympic Range, viewed from Seattle. This is a challenging route, testing a climber's route finding skills, physical fitness, and mental fortitude. From the parking lot, you will gain over 6000 vertical feet in just under 8 miles. The route is class 4. Some sections of the climb near the summit involve serious exposure.

This climb is remote and despite the easy access from the road, the portions past the climbers camp are not well travelled. Don't be surprised if you only share the slopes with mountain goats. This trip can be done as a very long 1 day trip, or a 2 day trip, camping overnight at Lena Lake or at the climbers' camp in the Valley of Silent Men.

This climb can be done in in all seasons, but required gear will vary depending on the season and snow levels. In winter, early, and late season, ice axes and crampons are necessary for the final thousand feet to the summit. Climbing helmets are recommended for all seasons, as the route is plagued by loose rock.

First hike to Lena Lake, 3 miles from the trailhead, where you can setup a camp to return to later. The lake is a beautiful camping location. If the lake is crowded, there is another camping area just past the Valley of Silent Men. Continue on the trail along the lake. Follow the East Lena Creek and signs on the trail for The Brothers, avoiding the forks that would take you to Upper Lena Lake.

The trail leads through dense old growth forest, crossing several large streams and eventually leads into the Valley of Silent Men, approximately 3 miles from the lake. There is a distinct campground here, with a large fire pit, at the fork in East Lena Creek.

Follow the NW fork of the creek. Be sure that you're on the trail though, as here is where the route finding difficulties start. The trail goes through an avalanche debris field, with slide alder obscuring the trail at many points. The trail then meanders through an old burn peppered with deadfalls. Continue following intermittent cairns up into a wide gully.

Scramble over a series of ledges, which will lead you to a narrow chute, nicknamed "The Hourglass". This chute is filled with snow in early season and loose scree in late season. If it is bare, you may want to scramble up the sides of the chute to avoid the loose rocks.

Climb up to a large flat area facing Southeast, known as Lunch Rock. From here the path heads north and then into another narrow gully, which leads to the summit. As you head for the summit, keep an eye out for a slot canyon on the right, to the NE, which is the route to the summit. Be aware, this slot canyon is a dwarf door; it is nearly invisible until you are directly in front of it.

From the summit, on a clear day, all 5 Washington Cascade volcanos are visible as well as Tacoma and Seattle. The views of Mt. Olympus and the other Olympic peaks are astounding.

Descend carefully back down the same way you came. Save your summit beer for when you're back at camp - the descent can be tricky in a few different spots.

On your way back home, if you like oysters, a stop at Hama Hama Oysters is a must. They will package fresh ones on ice, or if you don't want to wait, you can eat them in the parking lot.

Pack List

  • Overnight backpacking gear
  • Crampons and Ice axe (winter and early season)
  • Climbing Helmet
  • 10 Essentials
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Activities:

Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Rating:

Features:

Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildlife

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How to Get There

6 months ago

Solitude in a spectacular alpine setting...

What more could you ask for? Your climbing party, and the mountain goats, are likely to be the only folks on the mountain. In addition to Washington's volcanic peaks the views of the core Olympic range and the Puget Sound lowlands are outstanding. I'd personally recommend doing this climb in the early season only (April / May). The climb is viable as soon as the trail to Lower Lena Lake begins to melt out, but the sweet spot is when the trail is generally melted out all the way to the climber's bivouac at the terminus of the Valley of the Silent Men. I'd personally rather ascend steep snow through the Hourglass any day over loose rock, and of course, continuous snow allows for glissades on descent to save precious time. There are excellent camps at the climber's bivouac as the sites at Lower Lena Lake, while more scenic, draw crowds, backpacking neophytes, and noise.

6 months ago

Added by Wells Preston

I am a photographer, climber, and outdoorsman living in Seattle. I am always planning my next adventure, whether it is a multi day mountaineering trip in the North Cascades, a blue grass festival, or an afternoon trail run. It starts getting weird when I haven't been outside all day.

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