“ERRANT PEAK”  4640+? or 4680+? Feet

Prominence probably over 400 feet

USGS Mount Stickney

October 30, 2005

Party: John Roper, Paul Klenke, Fay Pullen, Martin Shetter, Sofy roper-dog


"Errant Peak" on right, above Boulder Lake and Creek

Taken from Bold Peak' on April 21, 1991 

Red Eye Mtn 4602' left center


This unheralded summit lies about 5 miles ESE of the upper end of Spada Lake in the highly-ignored Sultan River drainage. Paul Klenke raised this landform to the level of my consciousness on January 11, 2005 when he sent me (and Jeff Howbert ) an email noting that he had discovered a map anomaly as he was reviewing the peaks and contours on the USGS Mount Stickney quad. Take a look at this map link, and then take a closer look at the contours on the peak marked with the crosshair, just north of Boulder Lake . On first glance there appear to be two 4640+ summits on this ridge, this one marked, and one just NW. 


Paul's young and sharp eyes (and mind) noted something fishy on the map here though. He picked up on the peculiarity that there are 7 contours above the bolded 4400-foot contour encircling this SE point. That would make this summit the 4400+ contour plus 280' (7 contours x 40 feet per contour) = 4680+ feet high. If that is the case, then the bolded contour above the 4400'-bolded contour is actually the 4640-foot contour (not the expected 4600-foot contour).


Paul wondered if the USGS made one of two errors:

(1) Did they bold the wrong contour (4640, instead of 4600)? or

(2) Did they mistakenly insert an extra non-bolded contour below what should have been the 4600-foot bolded contour (which would make this point 4640+ feet, exactly the same as its immediate NW neighbor)?


If you are still with me (and Paul) here, we'll move on to why he was so interested in this anomaly. Take a look at the saddle just SE of this 4640+(?) or 4680+(?) summit, between Boulder Lake and a tiny unnamed lake (Anomaly Lake). If water were to rise to this 4280- saddle, it would isolate this Errant Peak as either a 360-foot, or 400-foot island, depending on what its height really is.


I looked over my slides of this landform then and concluded back to Paul that the extra-erroneous-contour theory was probably the right answer here, since it looked by eyeball like the NW 4640+ foot summit was higher than the SE 4640+/4680+(?) summit. But also noted was that, “If Jeff sticks to his usual protocol, the map wins, and will be the final answer, and you will have just ‘died and gone to heaven'* by finding a WA peak with 400 feet of prominence that Jeff missed.”  * 'Dagth Peak' was offered as a possible name to honor this rare and special event. But Paul had already been thinking of it as “Errant Peak,” and he did find it, after all, so he gets the final word.


"Errant Peak" above Boulder Lake, from Fallacy Peak, March 13, 2005

Higher NW summit on left.  Summit with errant contours in center. Noah's 4280- Saddle on right, just off photo.

Climbing this summit will take less time than understanding the above. Paul, Fay, and I talked about hiking up this the same day we did Fallacy Peak, last March 13, 2005, but opted to save it for later. The three of us met up again October 30, 2005, and were joined by Martin and Sofy for a gray and drizzly drive to Sultan and on up to Spada Lake to the Boulder Creek trailhead (1650').


The trail conversation was so entertaining to me that the two-hour hike (4 miles/2050-foot gain) to 3706' Boulder Lake seemed much shorter. At the lake, Paul announced that he wanted to go to the prominence-defining Noah's Saddle for our peak to take altimeter and GPS readings that might confirm, or at least lend support to this being a 400-foot prominence peak. I told the group that while I was a peak bagger, I was not a “saddle bagger,” so while they headed for the saddle, Sofy and I made a beeline NE for the Errant summit.


The initial couple hundred yards above the lake were a bit brushy with snow-draped huckleberry soaking arms and legs. Then as the forest opened up, a bit of sun did come out, which was not to our advantage as it warmed the snow-laden boughs overhead making the rest of the trip to the top seem like we were in a cluster-bomb raid, as snow clumps plummeted from the sky crashing to the ground all around us. Luckily Sofy and I took only one glancing hit.


Taking the hypotenuse route to the 4680+? top put Sofy and me here ahead of the saddle baggers.  The snow was maybe 6-8-inches deep. 3.25 hours up from car. Even though the views in most directions were blocked by trees, it was clear that this SE point was lower than the summit a quarter-mile to the NW. About 10 minutes later the others joined us, and Fay pulled out her clinometer to confirm that the NW peak was one-degree above us from our SE point.  Geometrists, please do the math.  After a quick bite (Sofy thanking Paul for sharing his jerky) and a few group photos, we slid our way over to the highest point.

Erranteers, Fay Pullen, Paul Klenke, Martin Shetter, Sofy (lower left) 10/30/05

Bold Peak, Bushwhack Peak, and Fallacy Peak behind


The higher NW top is a rocky knob that offered 360-degree views to a wintry scene. Fortunately the cloud deck was high enough to get some good shots. Of the 14 or 15-named and >400-foot-prominence summits on the USGS Mount Stickney quad, only 3 have official names on the map (Red, Stickney, and Prospect). In addition to "Frostbite Peak," which was looking particularly nippy, one of the most spectacular peaks from here was right across Elk Creek from us, "Red Neck," the yet unclimbed (and mislabeled) 5550-foot north peak of Red Mountain.

"Red Neck" (5530 point, 5550 is behind) from Errant


All of our instruments corroborated our eyeball estimation that the NW summit is the highest point of this landform, and the saddle baggers put their figures together to conclude that this summit of Errant Peak was about 450 feet above its prominence-defining saddle. We are also staking a strawman claim to a first ascent of this peak, more out of ignorance than bliss. Agreed, the 6+ inches of snow made for some added uncertainty, but we're winking at that for now. Will Errant later have yet another meaning?


We made our slippery way back down to the trail, arriving back at the car in less than 2 hours down, 6 hours after we left.