Pinnacle Peak & The Castle (winter)

Castle-Pinnacle Saddle is a strenuous, 6 mile snowshoe or ski trip with 1,400 feet of elevation gain in the Tatoosh Range of Mount Rainier National Park. The route leads up past Reflection Lake and goes through a wide open bowl to the saddle between the two peaks. For climbers it's on to a winter ascent of Pinnacle Peak or The Castle.

getting there

From the Nisqually Entrance of Mount Rainier National Park, drive the plowed road past Longmire  to the Narada Falls  parking lot which is kept plowed each winter.

In winter, ALL drivers in the park are required to carry snow chains or equivalent traction devices—this includes those with a 4-wheel or  all-wheel drive vehicle. Those without a 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle may be required to install them at Longmire or beyond.

approach & ascent

castle-pinnacle saddle (6,100 ft)

Snowshoe up to gain the road to Reflection Lakes and traverse on it to the base of Pinnacle Peak. Ascend the ridge directly north of Pinnacle Peak before dodging left (east) into the basin between Pinnacle and The Castle. Gain the Pinnacle-Castle saddle. Skiers enjoy some yo-yo skiing in the basin before returning to your cars. It's 6 miles rounf trip and 1,400 feet of elevation gain.

pinnacle peak/south route (6,562 ft)

From the Narada Falls parking lot, follow the Paradise Road to Reflection Lake. Find the Pinnacle trailhead, and ascend to the Pinnacle-Plummer saddle. Watch for avalanche conditions while passing under the west face of Pinnacle. From the saddle, turn east and ascend steep snow slopes to the ascent gully. From the top of the gully, ascend through trees to the summit. Depending on conditions, one or two roped pitches gain the summit. Descend by rappelling the gully. Bring pickets for the snow slopes and maybe one or two small cams for the gully. An ice tool can be helpful. Crampons and snowshoes or skis may be required. It's 6.0 miles round trip and 2,200 feet of elevation gain.

the castle/East Ridge (6,440 ft)

 

ski route

See the "Resources" tab below for a map, elevation profile, and trip segments for the best ski route.

  • Difficulty: Moderate, M1 Mountain 1 Ski
  • Length: 6.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,400 ft
  • 6,100 ft
  • Land Manager: Mount Rainier National Park
    Mount Rainier Wilderness
  • Parking Permit Required: National Park Entrance Fee
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
Map
  • USGS Mt Rainier East
  • Green Trails Mt Rainier East No. 270
  • Green Trails Mount Rainier Wonderland No. 269SX
Activities

Upcoming Activities

Basic Alpine Climb - The Castle/East Ridge

Climbing Trip
Overnight alpine rock climb in Rainier's Tatoosh Range. Prioritized for Kitsap climbers and friends but
Difficulty: Moderate
Sat, Jan 29, 2022 - Sun, Jan 30, 2022
Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
1 participant 2 leaders
Registration closed Dec 9
Kitsap Branch

Backcountry Touring Field Trip 2 - Pinnacle Peak & The Castle (winter)

Backcountry Skiing Field trip: Backcountry Touring Course
Field trip #2 - Day tour and intermediate travel skills. Location subject to change.
Difficulty: Moderate, M1 Mountain 1 Ski
Sat, Feb 19, 2022
No Prerequisites
0 participants 1 instructor
Registration closes Feb 17
Tacoma Branch

Basic Alpine Climb - The Castle/East Ridge

Climbing Trip
Early season short Rock climb
Difficulty: Moderate
Sat, Feb 26, 2022
Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
7 participants
Registration opens Feb 14
Seattle Branch

Field Trip #3 - Pinnacle Peak & The Castle (winter)

Backcountry Skiing Field trip: Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Course
Third field trip for the Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Course
Difficulty: Moderate, M1 Mountain 1 Ski
Sat, Mar 19, 2022
No Prerequisites
0 participants 1 instructor
Registration closes Feb 19
Everett Branch

Backcountry Ski/Snowboard - Pinnacle Peak & The Castle (winter)

Backcountry Skiing Trip
This is a ski conditioner primarily for Kari and Nick's SIG. Registration will open to
Difficulty: Moderate, M1 Mountain 1 Ski
Sun, Mar 20, 2022
Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
3 participants 0 leaders
Registration closes Mar 18
Foothills Branch

Trip 3 - Pinnacle Peak & The Castle (winter)

Backcountry Skiing Field trip: Introduction to Backcountry Ski/Snowboard Mini-series
We will ski the north and south slopes between Foss Peak and Castle Peak.
Difficulty: Moderate, M1 Mountain 1 Ski
Sat, Apr 16, 2022
No Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
1 participant 1 instructor
Registration closes Apr 14
Olympia Branch

Alpine Scrambling Course - Kitsap - Field Trip 3 - Pinnacle Peak & The Castle (winter)

Scrambling Field trip: Alpine Scrambling Course
FT#3 Steep Snow Travel. we will take the skills we learned during FT#2 and apply
Difficulty: Moderate, M1 Mountain 1 Ski
Sat, Apr 30, 2022
Prerequisites
8 participants 0 instructors
Registration closes Apr 28
Kitsap Branch
Trip Reports
Titles

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Castle-Pinnacle Saddle
  • Pinnacle Peak/South Route
  • The Castle/East Ridge
Resources
Name/Description
Topo Map

A topo map of the winter route to Castle-Pinnacle Saddle by Darryl Olson created in CalTopo Feb 2020.

Elevation Profile

A elevation profile for the winter route to Castle-Pinnacle Saddle by Darryl Olson Feb 2020.

Trip Segments

An Excel spreadsheet of trip segments with direction, distance, etc. for the winter route to Castle Pinnacle Saddle by Darryl Olson Feb 2020.

Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.