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Climbing
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Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade IV
Elevation Gain
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Distance
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
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Mount Rainier National Park provides some of the most spectacular sights in the Pacific Northwest. Among these sights is the jagged-topped Tatoosh Mountain Range that erupts out of the shadow of Mount Rainier. Unicorn Peak, the tallest peak in the Tatoosh Range, towers over the alpine lakes below providing picturesque scenes of seasonal creeks, basalt cliffs and knife-edged ridge lines while offering breathtaking views of Mount Rainier throughout the climb. In the winter months climbers must ascend steep snowfields above Snow Lake, while the summer months present tedious scree fields that keep the challenging spirit of this climb alive. A technical single-pitch rock climb brings the adventurous climber up the east face to the 6,917-foot summit overlooking the entire Tatoosh Range.

Early in the season the trail should only be attempted in the company of an experienced alpine climber as snow and avalanche conditions may produce hazardous conditions. The snow covered trail can be challenging to follow, but the dramatic terrain makes navigation by map and compass a breeze. The rock pitch at the top presents opportunities for the beginner traditional climber to place protection up the 5.6 east route with a fun rappel down the overhung south face.

Note: Two backcountry campsites flank Snow Lake, and both require a permit. One site is first-come, first-served, and the other can be reserved in advanced by calling the Longmire Wilderness Information Center (360.569.6650).  The park offers countless opportunities for one and multi-day hikes and climbs. While the Tatoosh range offers more of an alpine climbing experience, there are many nearby trails for the less technical thrill-seekers as well.  For more information contact Mount Rainier National Park (360.569.2211).

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Mt. Rainier National Park Entry Fee

Pros

Views of Mount Rainier and Goat Rocks. Fun fifth-class climb and rappel at summit block. Low use.

Cons

Technical skills and gear required. Trail hard to follow in snowy conditions. Cliff hazard and avalanche potential.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

4,574.00 ft (1,394.16 m)

Net Elevation Gain

2,400.00 ft (731.52 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Rock climbing
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Location

Field Guide + Map

Comments

08/20/2016
Great weekend trip traversing from Unicorn Peak to Castle/Pinnacle. In all, (6) summits along OP contributor Josh Lupkin's 'Tatoosh Playground' route. Starting at Pinnacle Peak trailhead, we hiked into a backcountry site in the saddle between The Castle and Foss Peak. Dropped our gear, and headed over and up Unicorn Peak, down the ridge to Boundary Peak, and back to Foss Peak to watch the sunset. Great views of Mt Rainier in the moonlight that night under a starry sky... missed the Perseid Meteor shower by a week though! Next day we had a quick jaunt from our camp up to the summit of The Castle, then on to Pinnacle Peak, and finished with a lazy walk up Plummer Peak. A great stretch of hiking and climbing in less than two days... a perfect weekend getaway!
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