Peak(s):  Gladstone Pk  -  13,913 feet
Date Posted:  07/23/2019
Modified:  07/31/2019
Date Climbed:   07/19/2019
Author:  HikerGuy
 Gladstone - East Face from Cross Mountain TH   


Date: 7/20/2019
Trailhead: Cross Mountain
Route: East Face
Difficulty: Easy Class 3
Time: 8 hours 8 minutes
Distance: 10.42 miles
Elevation: 4,911 feet


There are several existing reports on Gladstone's East Face route, but I am going to add another in hopes that this route will gain some traction and become a popular alternative to the North Ridge on Gladstone. I have not done the North Ridge, so I can only compare it to what I have read and with other's firsthand accounts. The North Ridge is not a well-liked route. The route description includes the following: "The rock deteriorates in this area and doesn't get much better on the remaining route", "The remaining route is more dangerous and includes a lot of scrambling on loose rock", "Beyond this area, the route gets even more serious as the risk of moving rocks increases", "If you descend away from the crest, you'll quickly find loose, dangerous rock". Here is a typical forum post on Gladstone Peak,, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence. One of my partners gashed open his leg when he climbed the North Ridge route, let's just say it's not his favorite peak. Lastly, the route has claimed lives.

The East Face when approached on snow is super straightforward on low to moderate angle snow and on relatively good rock above. I counted two or three easy Class 3 moves in the section where you exploit the weakness of the cIiff band protecting the final summit pitch. The rock is very solid in this area. And I was able to stay on lichen-covered rock from there to the summit. Lichen doesn't guarantee no rock movement, but I have found it more stable and seek it out when route finding. I have a suspicion that even in dry conditions this would be a good route. In fact, I'd like to come back and document the route when it is dry. The trailhead (Cross Mountain) is located adjacent to Highway 145 just south of Lizard Head Peak, much easier access than Rock of Ages. There is dispersed camping directly across the highway from the trailhead. The Cross Mountain trail provides a much more scenic approach and lastly there are zero teetering piano-sized rocks on the East Face Route. To be fair, the route is 1.5 miles longer and requires 800 feet more elevation gain.

I slept in my car across the road from the trailhead and hit the trail at 5am. I had done the trio of American, Jones and Niagara the day before and Vermilion was planned for the day after, so I took my time on this route. GPX download available below. I hope you enjoy the photos!


Dawn with a waning gibbous moon as I make my way up the Cross Mountain Trail.

Sunrise hitting Mount Wilson and "South Wilson".

Approaching Lizard Head Peak.

First full view of Gladstone's east face.

Pano of the Wilsons and Lizard Head.


Dropping down into the basin. It was 4 miles from the trailhead to the Lizard Head-Cross Mountain saddle.

It's much easier to drop down a bit more vs. contouring higher.

Uninterrupted snow from here to the cliff band, so I went ahead and put my crampons on. I carried an ice axe, but never felt like I needed it. The runouts
were generous and the suncups assisted in the steepest section which is not that long.

The initial part of the basin ascent is low angle.

You have a good view of the route most of the way up.

Heading up more moderate angle slopes. I put my helmet on here. There was some evidence of rockfall, but not much.

i decided to swing right around a rock band on the way up to keep on the lowest angle snow as possible and expend less effort.


I went pretty far up on the slope before transitioning to the rock. On the way down I stayed on the rock longer. Either way works nicely, just make sure
to work to the left side of the cliff band.

Easy climbing on good rock to get level with the top of the cliff band.

There is a very short section that has a bit of exposure, but the views are amazing and the section has the best rock, its not going anywhere. The route
goes along the left side of the large snowfield and under the smaller snowfield. Once past these, you turn left and make the final ascent.

Peering over at Gladstone's dramatic south face and connecting ridge with Mount Wilson. El Diente is in the background.

High-altitude lady bug.


Looking back down while traversing above the cliff band towards the final summit pitch.

Annotated version of photo above as requested. Yellow line shows bypass route around/above cliff band. Oval snow patch is reference to view in photo
above looking up while negotiating the bypass.

Looking back down after completing the traverse above the cliff band to the start of the final summit pitch.

Looking up at the final pitch to the summit. Nice stable lichen-covered rock. Great views of Wilson Peak as you ascend.


View of the notorious North Ridge from the summit.

Mount Wilson and El Diente from the summit.

Wilson Peak from the summit with the famous crow bar. I stashed my ice axe to lighten my load a bit before climbing the final summit ridge. I figured
there was nothing for pesky animals to gnaw on unlike crampon straps and pole grips.

Looking over the basin at Lizard Head from the summit.


On my way down I stayed on the left-side cliff bypass longer and exited back on the snow at a lower point. If snow is not present, this would be the best option.

Back down on low-angle snow, making my way back across the basin.

Back at the saddle, looking back at Gladstone and the East Face route.

Back at the saddle, looking up at Lizard Head Peak.


The wildflowers are excellent this year.

Wildflowers with Gladstone in the background.

This area below Lizard Head was the best patch of wildflowers I have seen this summer.

Wildflowers with Gladstone in the background.

Wildflowers with tomorrow's objective in the distance.

Wildflowers below Lizard Head.



My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 24 25 26 27 28 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 43 44 45 46 47 50 52

Comments or Questions

Nice report
07/23/2019 21:55
I am coming down next
Week and that route looks a heck
Of a lot better then the ridge.
Thanks for the detail


07/24/2019 07:24
Thanks for this great report and alternative. I've been thinking about Gladstone for a while and wondering about that North Ridge. I saw Matt's report and it gave me the heebie jeebies. Just curious about the snow condition on the way down. Still firm or did you have post-hole challenges? Is the angle such that a glissade is appropriate?

Thanks again and hope Vermilion went well.


Snow is firm
07/24/2019 09:49
Hey Glen, the snow is completely consolidated and remained firm through late morning. Zero postholing. I don't think you would even have a problem in the afternoon, except around the margins. I'm not a big fan of glissading; however, I'd say the slope angles and runouts are probably ideal for glissading, but the surface is suncupped and it probably wouldn't be too much fun. I think it's a beautiful and great route. Vermilion went well too, thanks! -Troy


Hi Troy
07/24/2019 11:20
Was there much snow to get through on vermilion ?? Thinking I am doing that one as well as Gladstone




07/24/2019 16:27
Jack, there is plenty of low-angle snow to cross in the lower basin after leaving the trail. No snow on the higher-angle slopes, what's there is easily avoided. Saddle to summit is also snow-free. Ice axe not needed, traction may be helpful. Snow was also consolidated, zero postholing issues.

EDIT: Jack, I updated my Vermilion condition update with photo annotations, it provides some more info.


07/26/2019 15:38
Thanks Troy
Appreciate it Nice job on all those climbs


Good description
07/30/2019 14:19
Thanks for writing this up in detail I was thinking of a lizard head Gladstone trip!
Well done strong work climbing!


08/08/2019 19:56
My son and I successfully summitted today via this route. Thank you very much for the idea and excellent description. There's not as much snow as when you went but still plenty. We stayed off the snow on the way up but glissaded much of what is left of the snowfields (with our ice axes) coming down. The snow was firm enough where we didn't post hole at all but it was pretty soft and slippery (hence staying on the rock on the way up). The climbing on the face (to the left of your track) was pretty solid but the final ridgeline after splitting the snowfields as you did was VERY loose. I think Gladstone should be called Peak BBB (Big Balancing Boulders). I suspect the last 300' along the northeast ridge is a lot like the north ridge.

Anyway, thanks again for the write-up and great idea for an alternative to the standard route.


08/10/2019 09:09
This was a peak I was going to skip, altogether. As you said, have heard nothing good about the standard route. Kept looking for someone, ANYONE to say, "It wasn't as bad as I was expecting." Lo and behold, I never found that statement or anything close to that. You've given me hope for an attempt at this peak...thank you!

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