Observation Rock/North Face


Intermediate Alpine Climb - Observation Rock/North Face

Observation Rock/N Face

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Sat, Sep 27, 2014
  • Seattle Climbing
  • Climbing
  • Intermediate Alpine
  • Adults
  • Intermediate Ice Climb
  • Mileage: 13.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 3,600 ft
7:00 AM at Mowich Lake TH
NOTE: Difficulty can vary greatly as conditions change. Trip leaders are asked to use judgement in awarding Intermediate Ice credit in conditions where it is unwaranted. Students should understand that achieving the summit does not gaurantee credit. Characterizing a route on a given day as "challenging enough" is obviously subjective. See page 63 of the 2008 Intermediate Climbs guide for guidance on the nature of Intemediate Ice climbs. 8,364’, Grade II, Class 2, Intermediate Ice

Reference & Data • • • •

  • Jurisdiction: Mt. Rainier National Park
  • Ranger Station: Carbon River Ranger Station / 360-825-2211
  • Equipment: 2nd tool, pickets, ice screws, and crampons.
  • Beckey: Cascade Alpine Guide I, 3rd Edition, p. 131
  • USGS Maps: Mowich Lake
  • Other Map: Mount Rainier National Park
  • Time Elevation gain/loss Mileage
    • Seattle to TH 3 hrs +4,980’ 88
    • TH to Climb 3-4 hrs +2,500’
    • On Climb 2-3 hrs +800’
    • Summit to TH 4-6 hrs -3,200 (+ 300’ gain)

    Approach • • • • • • • • • • •

    Take SR 167 south from Renton/I 405 to the Auburn exit. Exit east on SR 18 for one mile, and exit to Auburn. Turn left at the light and continue on SR 164 to Enumclaw. Drive Hwy. 410 from Enumclaw to Buckley. From Buckley take SR 165, eventually crossing the Carbon River bridge and to a road junction with the right, uphill fork signed for Mowich Lake. Take this fork all the way to the lake. Follow the Spray Park trail heading south from the lake. Shortly there will be a junction with the Wonderland trail. Continue south, then east on the trail, up into Spray Park. Near the high point on the trail at ca. 6,400’ a cairn marks a climber’s path which takes off north toward Observation Rock. This path becomes indistinct around 7,200’ in moraines. From here there are numerous ways to approach the N Face of Observation Rock by contouring SW. Some parties aim for the small lake at 6,583’ to ascend snow; this can reportedly avoid some tedious scree.

    Climbing Route • • • • • • •

    Ascends the steep finger of the Flett Glacier, aiming SW for Observation Rock’s summit. There is enough ice for 4-5 pitches, steepening to about 50 degrees near the top. The first pitch is usually simul-climbed; then parties can swing leads to the top of the glacier. There is plenty of room for 2- 3 parties to climb at once, with some variation in steepness and snow cover from left to right. From the top of the glacier, unrope and scramble to the crumbly summit for fine views of Rainier’s north side.

    Descent • • • • • • • • • • •

    The best descent is to scramble down to the south and east of Observation Rock. Descending to the west puts one back on the crevassed Flett Glacier which may prove impassable late in the season. Then follow the climbers’ trail back to Spray Park and then the main trail back to Mowich Lake.

    Comments • • • • • • • • •

    This climb is a rarity: a one-day ice climb. Must be done on or after July 1 for Intermediate Ice credit.

Observation Rock/North Face

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials
Trip Reports