Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade III
Elevation Gain
3,800.00 ft (1,158.24 m)
8.00 mi (12.87 km)
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One of the most popular mountaineering destinations in the Washington Cascades, Sperry Peak cuts an intimidating profile. The east face rises over 2000 feet in only a third of a mile, while the north face shoots into the sky at 3000 feet in just over a half-mile. From Lake Elan you can climb the much smaller west face. Lake Elan sits between Sperry and Vesper peaks and allows for ambitious hikers and climbers to get up to the summit of both in one long day or to them up into a overnight camping trip.

Sitting to the west is Vesper, which is Sperry's closest neighboring peak. The two share a high connecting ridge just north of the lake. Sperry was named after Dick Sperry, a mining prospector and resident of Silverton in the late 1800s. The first ascent was made by Norval Grigg and Art Winder in 1927, and it was up what we now call the standard route, the west ridge above Lake Elan. The route starts at the end of Sunshine Mine Road, where you can view both Sperry and Morning Star. From the trailhead you will navigate through the old-growth forest that crosses a couple of streams, including an unnerving South Fork Stillaguamish River crossing.

You will need to climb a steep slope between Sperry the north side of Morning Star as you ascend a brushy avalanche slope and pass a long basin (Wirtz Basin) full of talus. The trail can be hard to keep in sight, and often times it may be impossible to judge where you should exit, but there are numerous cairns in place to help. The trail and elevation gain is moderate until you hit Headlee Pass, where the landscape becomes very narrow and steep. This pass can be a hazard depending on the season, so check conditions. If it is filled with snow or ice of any sort, you should highly consider bringing an ice ax and crampons.

At the top of the 4,600-foot pass you will see Vesper Peak. The trial starts traversing to the right toward the high-alpine Lake Elan (many references call this Vesper Lake); stay on the east side of the lake and scramble up some slabs to gain the saddle between Sperry and Vesper at 5,300 feet. This slope is not difficult until you reach its upper portion. You will notice a down-sloping talus and heather bench that separates the upper and lower cliffs. Above the bench the route becomes harder to navigate and could put your nerves on edge as the exposure increases. This is a sought-after climb due to the terrain variety encountered in such a short time and distance. Enjoy the incredible views from the summit of Sperry Peak before returning to Lake Elan and the return route.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass


Great views. Old growth forest. Wildflowers.



Pets allowed


Trailhead Elevation

2,320.00 ft (707.14 m)


Backcountry camping
Rock climbing
Bird watching
Old-growth forest


Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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