Pinnacle Peak

June 12, 2018


Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

Pinnacle Peak is the icon of Tatoosh Range near Mt. Rainier. It’s not the tallest in Tatoosh Range but is certainly the most photographed one. The approach is next-to-nothing thank to the roads winding up Mt. Rainier and the ascent is a pleasant 3rd class scramble. The route is south-facing hence dries off early in the spring. Most parties opt to do it when the approach still offers snow travel. The plan among Lily, Alan and myself was to traverse 4 peaks in this area starting from The Castle. Earlier in the day we’d already finished The Castle via its standard route.

Traverse of Castle, Pinnacle, Plummer, Denman. GPX DL

The only problem of an early-season traverse from The Castle to Pinnacle Peak is that south-facing bowl. It was almost entirely covered in snow and the snow was rock hard in the morning that we had to spend a couple minutes donning crampons and ice axes. The traverse was pretty steep too and we certainly didn’t want to afford a slip. I had my aluminum crampons so the few scree patches were annoying. I didn’t want to waste time taking the crampons off so picked some zig-zagging lines and did manage to stay entirely on snow. Once at the base of Pinnacle Peak’s SW Ridge we ditched all snow gears as well as our backpacks.

Me traversing across the south slopes on snow. Photo by Lily Q.

Looking back at Lily and Alan traversing snow

Arriving at the start of Pinnacle’s SW Ridge. Time to ditch some gears

Alan and Lily arriving at the same spot.

The scrambling was nice and easy staircase kind of terrain and I felt like going back to Canadian Rockies. The rocks weren’t the most solid but the ledges are all up-sloping. About 2/3 of the way up the terrain steepens a little bit but again, the ledges and holds are up-sloping making some very enjoyable moves. And then after briefly thrashing through some bush we arrived at the summit.

Alan and myself scrambling up the typical terrain. Photo by Lily Q.

Looking down at Lily and Alan scrambling up.

Lily higher up on the route just before a short stretch of bush

Summit Panorama from Pinnacle Peak. Click to view large size.

Mt. Rainier close-up shot

This is looking over the summit of Plummer Peak – our next objective

Unicorn Peak is the tallest in Tatoosh Range

Cowlitz Chimneys in the eastern Rainier area.

Me on the summit of Pinnacle Peak with Mt. Rainier behind

Another photo of me on the summit of Pinnacle Peak

We didn’t linger too long up there because there’s really not much to do without our backpacks, so down the same route we went. Once picking up the ditched backpacks we plunged to Pinnacle/Plummer col on mostly snow.

Time to down down…

This is that brief stretch of bush. No real ‘whacking though.

Al continuing down on the 3rd class terrain. Photo by Lily Q.

Al and Lily descending the staircases.

Me already focusing on Plummer Peak by now. Photo by Lily Q.

And the day continued with ascents of Plummer Peak and then Denman Peak.