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[TR] Pinnacle Peak- East Ridge 12/18/2004


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Climb: Pinnacle Peak-East Ridge


Date of Climb: 12/18/2004


Trip Report:

After calling Rainier NP Friday and getting the word that the park gate would open at 9am, we elected to leave Seattle at 5:30am hoping that it would open earlier. The drive took us only about two hours, and as we neared the park, the day dawned around the big mountain.


Got to the park, and there was no gate to stop us, no one at the teller's booth...hmmmm. Anyhow we drove on up to Narada Falls and parked. We (3 of us) brought skis for the approach. We lugged these up the crux, which was the boulderfield with light snow cover up to the Stevens Pass road. This was snow covered (barely) and made for an easy ski to Reflection Lakes--we didn't even put skins on.


We decided to leave the skis by the road. The snow conditions were shit for skiing, but not too bad for walking. Still, we thought the best tool all in all would have been snow shoes...next time. We left the road about 10am and broke a trail loosely following an older one up to the col. 11:20am.


We had heard that the north face of Castle gets some ice, but as we approached the col, it did not entice us. There is big potential on the left side of this face (see pic below) however, if the big drip were to come all the way to the snow!


We ended up doing the east ridge of Pinnacle Peak(picture). This climb was a blast on this beautiful and unfathomably warm, sunny day. It entailed some ridge scrambling, one pitch of low fifth class climbing(picture) and then up the snowy ridge some more to a generous summit area. (Rock is kind of loose but not perilously so) We were treated to a view of the big one all day(picture), noting tracks up the Kautz Glacier.


This was a great place to be Saturday. We had a huge snowball fight up on the ridge and took our sweet time getting down. Got down to the road about dark and skied out. Yeehaw!




Gear Notes:

Should have brought snowshoes instead of skis. A light rack is all that's necessary. We slung horns for pro almost entirely.


One other thing to say: what the hell is up with Rainier NP policies?? First of all, they lied about their hours. Maybe these apply only when there is snow to plow, but the hours as they were told to me!?? What the!...they open at 9am and close the Longmire gate at 4:30pm and the park gate at 6pm--ludicrous. How are you supposed to do any event (the Tatoosh being one exception) in that time frame? Tough to bet on your alpine start...






Edited by SmilingWhiteKnuckles
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The only gate on the westside that I know of is the Longmire gate. It typically opens around 8 or 9am, they stop traffic at 4:30pm, and lock it up at 6pm. If you do reach the gate after that, you can call a ranger from the National Park Inn who will open the gate for you, especially if you act humble.

The only time I've ever witnessed the Nisqually gate locked was when it snowed lower than Longmire. So perhaps you were confused.

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If there is no new snow and the roads aren't icy, the Longmire gate may open early. If they say it opens at 9am and it opens early this is probably why. What exactly did they say on the phone?


Also, is the park actually closed or is the gate just closed between 9am and 6pm? The difference being You can still drive in/through the park anywhere a gate is not locked. Gates being locked for reasons based on driving conditions.

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I am confused. I'm confused about why they say one thing on the phone and do another. And I'm also confused about why the park is only "open" between 9 and 6pm.


Its called government. Happens all the time. Even in the the U.S. Forest Service offices.


The road is "open" during those periods so it is a consistent policy. They have pulled many a vehicle off of that road in the winter and they don't want to spend the time for imbeciles who don't know how to drive under winter conditions during darkness.

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I am confused. I'm confused about why they say one thing on the phone and do another. And I'm also confused about why the park is only "open" between 9 and 6pm.


feel fortunate, wait till you get there at 8 for the "9 opening of the gate" only to have to wait till 10-11 or so till they plow 3 inches of snow, then get in line to the top with granny driving 5 mph and of course she is in the lead. Get there around noonish, get back to the car in a few hours around darkish and then drive back to Seattle. madgo_ron.gif


Nice trip report and pics.

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I'm not incredibly familiar with the peaks and routes in the Tatoosh, but perhaps Lane is the peak with at least two long, straight snow couloirs on the north face. Good views of what the peak I'm referring to directly south from the Narada Falls parking lot.


Hard to say what the conditions would be like. I'd say doable as there was snow in them. Underneath the snow, would there be ice? Don't know. The ice on Castle's north face didn't look too bad, but it wasn't exactly fat...

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