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scottgg

[TR] Mt. Rainier and Tatoosh - DC and Tatoosh Traverse 8/13/2007

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Trip: Mt. Rainier and Tatoosh - DC and Tatoosh Traverse

 

Date: 8/13/2007

 

Trip Report:

I am a goal oriented dude, and I think it comes from my dad. You see, my brother and I spent the last several months psyching him up to climb Rainier with us this summer, and he has spent the last several months preparing his body for the challenge. He added mileage and hills to his usual running routine, and further honed his body with massive quantities of pushups and squats. Pa was physically ready, but once the date was set, he worried about those pesky crevasses that tend to come out later in the season. His solution: invite several of his friend along, in the hopes that more people on the rope would mean less of a chance of getting intimate with a crevasse.

 

Mt Rainier

 

This past Saturday dawned clear, and we joined the hordes for the trudge up to Camp Muir. The weather was forecasted to deteriorate on Sunday, and sure enough, we awoke to high winds and an apparent cloud cap around 13,000’. Started hiking around 1:30am, and made it to the crater rim at 9:10am. I was super proud of my dad, as he kept a super attitude throughout.

 

rainier_summit_with_dad_012.jpg

 

Miscellaneous thoughts for those thinking of doing this route anytime soon:

 

-Expect your Muir-Summit-Muir time to be about 2 hours longer than it would be in June/July (very circuitous).

-I really liked the route, as it avoided the DC proper, and weaved around some awesome seracs and crevasses (generally without being threatened by them). The scenery is much more interesting now than earlier in the year.

- The “steep” step around 11,700’ is only about 40 degrees and 20 feet tall (nice buckets kicked in). Nothing to get excited about.

- Rainier gets snow even in August (probably snowed a few inches while we were up there).

rainier_summit_with_dad_013.jpg

 

Tatoosh Traverse

 

This summer my theme has been getting lots of mileage in on moderate terrain, and linking easier peaks together. The Tatoosh Traverse seemed to follow in this vein and my good friend Kelly Smith though an attempt on this mini-range sounded swell! Coincidently, his only free day in the foreseeable future was Monday, which was great because I’d be all acclimated from our Rainier climb the day before. So Monday morning saw me driving back into the park I’d left eight hours before. We caught a few hours of sleep at Longmire, and started up the Eagle Peak trail just after 6:00am. We reached Eagle’s cool summit at 7:20am, and could hardly believe our good fortune: several miles of high alpine country stretched off in the distance, with Rainier on our left, and Mt.’s Adams, Hood, and St. Helens looking on from the south.

rainier_summit_with_dad_007.jpg

 

The area is so beautiful, with gorgeous wildflowers, rocky peaks, and lots of wildlife. Each peak had an interesting scrambling route, and the route finding was generally very manageable. This was our first time in the area, so we were please to only loose a half hour or so to wrong turns. After Eagle, we climbed Chulta, Wahpenayo, Lane (which we thought was the coolest peak thus far), Denman, Plummer, Pinnacle, and Castle, which we reached just after 1:00pm. It was then time for a decision…

 

You see, Kelly’s friend (who shall remain nameless), had earlier agreed to start hiking from the Snow Lake Trailhead, and meet us around Pinnacle Peak. We had yet to see him, and we were both worried that something horrible may have happened. So do we backtrack to the Pinnacle Peak Trail, thus minimizing the distance we’d have to walk/hitchhike back to Longmire, or keep going in the hopes that we would run into him, then finish up the last three peaks of the Traverse (Unicorn, Boundary, and Stevens)? We decided to keep hiking towards the final three peaks….

 

We still had not run into our tardy friend by the time we reached the basin below Unicorn, so we sat down for about an hour and hollered, and looked, and waited, and hollered some more, but no sign of our ride. No problem, we’ll just have to come back and do the traverse again, and get those final three peaks (which I’ve heard are very cool). Kelly told me our ride may even be waiting for us in the parking lot: sweet! But it was not to be, so we started walking west on Stevens Canyon road toward Longmire, 15 miles away. Our spirits were high, and Kelly even estimated we could make it back to the car in an hour and a half, as most of the road is downhill. Thankfully, we never got to figure out how running 15 miles would feel after such a long hike, as a super cool couple picked us up near the Pinnacle Peak Trailhead! Back to the car at 5:00, burger’s in Elbe shortly thereafter. :chebit:

 

Miscellanous thoughts:

Big thanks to Cluck (Scott) for giving me great beta/times for this traverse!

Big thanks to the cool Mountaineer’s couple for taking pity on us and taking us down to Longmire!

Big thanks to Mark Bunker for getting me hooked on moving fast in the hills!

This traverse is very cool, and highly recommended! I will be back to finish this thing!

 

 

Edited by scottgg

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Nice work, amigos.

A couple of tips from someone who's been out on the traverse a lot:

 

It's a bit easier if you start from Unicorn and head toward Eagle. The general trend is at least downhill.

Although I've done the traverse from Unicorn to Eagle, bagging all of the peaks on the way (about 10 hours), I've done Stevens but once. Getting up to Unicorn is merely the approach and from there it is a long ways east to summit Stevens. It took me and pope something like half a day to get back there and return. I suppose if you were to technically do a complete traverse, you'd have to add Stevens and Boundary and it would make for a very long day indeed. (Plus there are is a spur and a major feature off of Wahpaneyo, though unnamed, which are perhaps also legitimate summits....plus a sub-peak off of Unicorn [to the right of the Unicorn saddle] which is likewise unnamed but we call it "West Unicorn".)

 

To get back from Unicorn or Pinnacle Peak to Longmire, find the Wonderland trail near Reflection Lakes and head on down towards Narada Falls and beyond. It's only about six miles back to Longmire and it is a fun run or hike and sure beats hiking the long, long road.

 

cheers,

 

:brew:

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(Plus there are is a spur and a major feature off of Wahpaneyo, though unnamed, which are perhaps also legitimate summits....

 

Chutla.

 

plus a sub-peak off of Unicorn [to the right of the Unicorn saddle] which is likewise unnamed but we call it "West Unicorn".)

 

Foss Peak.

 

 

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So I am interested in doing the entire traverse myself. I have done the Pinnacle->Lane->Plummer->Denman->Eagle->Chutla->Whapaneyo trip many times, and have been up Foss and Boundary and Unicorn a few times on separatate trips. I was up Stevens once some years ago. Never been up Castle.

 

My questions:

 

Should I bother with Stevens? Is that just a black hole for time?

 

I assume Unicorn can be scrambled. I have climbed it, but people were scrambling past us.

 

Is there a scramble route up Castle? That's the only one I haven't been up before. I may go check that one out in a couple of weeks. I have a couple of free days - I'll play around on it, find the route I like, and make note of it.

 

Then I'll link the whole thing together next July. Start with Boundary then either hitch a ride back from Longmire when I'm done, or just walk the Wonderland Trail from Longmire to Louise Lake and walk the road from there to the Unicorn/Boundary TH...

 

 

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(Plus there are is a spur and a major feature off of Wahpaneyo, though unnamed, which are perhaps also legitimate summits....

 

Chutla.

 

No sir. I'm not talkin' 'bout Chutla. See the picture below for the southward running spur which runs far left out of the picture.

Also, note the nice-lookin' crag ("separate peak") that sits between Wahpenayo and Lane. I've never climbed it but it's possibly technical.

 

Wahpaneyo_plus.jpg

 

plus a sub-peak off of Unicorn [to the right of the Unicorn saddle] which is likewise unnamed but we call it "West Unicorn".)

 

Foss Peak.

 

No sir. The peak to which I refer is the one pictured below in a photo I modified from Orygun Jim. Foss Peak is well along the ridge between these Unicorns and Castle.

 

West_Unicorn.jpg

 

 

 

 

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I am a little old school I guess, I actually liked you and your dad part of your trip report. my two sons and I have made Rainier summit once this year and I hope they drag me me along again soon, I cant think of any activity that compares to climbing with my sons.

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Ah - that... Did you bother to do Foss?

 

Foss? Absolutely, it's an easy cruise on the ridge-line after dropping down from the Unicorn area...it probably saves you some annoyance from side-stepping the heather over to Castle. There are a couple of ephemeral trails that can be found in the area that will make travel easier.

 

Should I bother with Stevens? Is that just a black hole for time?

 

Stevens is WAY out there...as I may have mentioned in a post above, getting to Unicorn is just the approach and from there you need to descend and then traverse quite a ways. To add it to a one-day traverse you'd need to start very early. I've done the traditional traverse in one day twice, bagging the summits of Unicorn, W. Unicorn, Foss, Castle, Pinnacle, Plummer, Denman, Lane, Wahpenayo, Chutla and Eagle. Once, I started from Paradise and it took me about 12 hours and the other time I started from the Bench/Snow Lake trailhead and it took me 10 1/2 hours...tagging all the summits, and running, if not fast-hiking, much of the time. Adding Stevens (and Boundary) to the show would require probably another three or four hours.

 

I assume Unicorn can be scrambled. I have climbed it, but people were scrambling past us.

 

Regarding Unicorn: There's a little gully and scramble, Class 3 or 4, on the south side of Unicorn (just around the corner from the west facing short vertical face that is often climbed) that can get you up to the top. If you're the nervous sort, a 50 ft. 8 or 9 mm rope and a sling might make you feel more comfortable coming back down the same way you came up.

 

Is there a scramble route up Castle? That's the only one I haven't been up before. I may go check that one out in a couple of weeks. I have a couple of free days - I'll play around on it, find the route I like, and make note of it.

 

If you're coming from Unicorn and Foss, you'll encounter the Castle as you come down the ridge. If you go straight up along the ridgecrest, you can more or less scramble up the east face of Castle on it's right side. A short dihedral leads to a broad ledge and then there is about 15 feet of vertical climbing (5.4? or easier) leading to Castle's summit ridge, which can be followed on easy ledges to its true summit perhaps 50 feet away to the west. If you're careful, you can follow bushy ledges down the northwest side of Castle to the Pinnacle/Castle saddle. From there, you can climb the short east ridge of Pinnacle...spooky, kind of loose, class 4+, or traverse over to Pinnacle's easy-to-scramble south face.

 

Check out this web-site with some GREAT photos...especially note the distance of Stevens from Unicorn!

 

Tatoosh Traverse

 

Have fun. I LOVE the Tatoosh Range!

 

- Raindawg, self-annointed King of the Tatoosh Range.

 

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THANKS for the info. Like I said, I've done the route from Pinnacle to Eagle many times (Reflection Lakes to Leavenworth), and done all but Castle a few times besides, and I've been wanting to do this for some time. Sounds like a great trip - I'll be doing this next summer!

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Miscellanous thoughts:

Big thanks to Cluck (Scott) for giving me great beta/times for this traverse!

 

Nice work. Sounds like you were making great time. How were the conditions? Did you get to walk on any snow or was it dry? Since we did it in the Fall, it was all dirt/talus/heather for us.

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No snow to walk on, but the plant life was fairly wet from the previous days rain. I would also advise climbing Foss, as an alternative to the long side-hilling between Castle and Unicorn.

Looking back, I can see several instances where we could have saved time, and I'm looking forward to trying this this again!

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Knowing how to get off Wahpenayo is key, as we probably lost about 30 minutes trying to figure it out. Lots of other, minor route finding issues that will be much easier to deal with next time.

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Ah. I've done Reflection Lake -> Pinnacle -> Whapaneyo -> Leavenworth a few times, so I have that down, and most of the other peaks separately, except Castle. The only thing I'm thinking about is Foss -> Castle, but that doesn't look too bad, a ridge run, actually, and Castle itself. I think I'll do it next July...

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If anyone knows is the traverse in good shape this time of year, and is there any water sources or a good place to camp within the traverse. would like to do the whole traverse over two days. any suggestions on where to leave cars

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Ah. I've done Reflection Lake -> Pinnacle -> Whapaneyo -> Leavenworth a few times, so I have that down, and most of the other peaks separately, except Castle.

 

Wow, I hear that Wapaneyo to Leavenworth leg is pretty intense...

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If anyone knows is the traverse in good shape this time of year, and is there any water sources or a good place to camp within the traverse. would like to do the whole traverse over two days. any suggestions on where to leave cars

 

The Traverse should be in fine shape this time of year, though you'll need to suffer through some boulder hopping in the Unicorn basin. There should be meltwater from the Unicorn Glacier available. There's also a small lake/mudhole between Foss & Castle and then Cliff Lake between Lane & Wahpenayo. Not a whole lot of flat terrain for camping but the flats between Foss & Castle (by the mud-hole) would be OK. I'm doing the traverse (including Stevens) this weekend and can post beta when I return. The only question remaining in my mind is whether or not there will be enough snow between Unicorn and Stevens to warrant crampons? I hate the idea of hauling those things around for 2 days only to use them for 15 minutes.

 

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RE: 'West Unicorn' - I've heard this referred to as Mt. Gesswick. Not sure if that's accurate or not and I've personally never considered it part of the traverse. I have always been interested in climbing it though. How have others done it? Just ascend the exposed heather/snow slopes from Unicorn saddle?

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