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[TR] Unicorn Peak- Tatoosh - Standard 7/21/2013

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Trip: Unicorn Peak- Tatoosh - Standard


Date: 7/21/2013


Trip Report:

Unicorn Peak- Tatoosh

Danika, Ilia, David and I took a summer trip down to Mount Rainier National Park and climbed Unicorn peak in the Tatoosh last weekend. This was my first trip back in the mountains after spending a month abroad for work and it was nice to stretch my legs. Two years ago, Danika, Meredith and I were turned around from this peak in early spring by a long road walk, ski boot issues and bad avy conditions. This trip featured none of the above, though it threw in its own challenges. I had expected a summer trip to this area to be following a trail to the summit block, but this was actually a fun alpine climb with just enough spice to make it a really great trip.



Hiking past Snow Lake


Having hiked the road from Narada to Reflection Lakes several times this year already, it was pretty nice to drive all the way to the trailhead. An hour of trail hiking had us passing by Snow Lake (I wonder how many “Snow Lakes” there are in this state?) and switching from easy trail to much less amusing boulder fields and then hard snow in the gully leading to the upper basin.



Hooray boulder fields…..



Much cursing ensued as we worked our way over sliding rocks and hard rotten snow, but we crossed into the upper basin without incident. This was our turn around spot from our previous attempt and we got a good view of our folly in attempting during that climb to traverse to Castle for a better ski descent. Following a navigation discussion which almost led us up and around the wrong subsummit, we ascended the correct second gully and crossed circumnavigated to the South side of Unicorn with great views of Rainier, Adams, St Helens and Hood.




Love the view




More choss climbing and loose rock dodging (I can see why this is a good spring climb) got us to the summit block and our reward for hauling several pounds of rope and rack. I lead the 5.6 “Classic Route” which reminded me that I still have rock skills despite several months of not using them between snow and traveling. Sadly, the rock pitch was over fast and we hit the summit a leisurely 4 hours from the car.


Rock climbing






On the summit with great views.


Poor souls trekking to Muir


The long but fast way down


I havent seen Paradise this melted out in a long time




The descent was more eventful that I usually like. Choss surfing was fun at times, while dodging falling rock was certainly not. I also had a large snow bridge fail below me during the descent down the lower gully, which lead to a 4-5 foot drop onto some rocks. Fortunately I was unharmed but be careful on snow this time of year. Round trip 8 hours car to car, during which we were never particularly rushing.

Great trip and a lot more alpine fun that I had expected.


Ilia Choss surfing



Debris from the collapsed snow bridge



Gear Notes:

If anyone finds a black diamond z fold trekking pole up there, please let me know.


I only have a 60 m rope, but a shorter would probably do just fine. Light rack. BD cams 0.5-2 and a set of nuts.

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