Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Coleman Pinnacle

Five brave scramblers survived weekend crowds and a challenging tree problem for a successful summit of Coleman Pinnacle.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Trail was largely snow free with a few icy spots. A small amount of snow on the approach ridge and a few inches of snow on the saddle posed no issues, although we did don microspikes for this section. The pinnacle itself had only traces of snow.

Our group of 5 met at Artist Point at 8:30am on a sunny Saturday. Although the parking lot is fairly large, it was nearly full when we arrived. There is a privy here, but a much better choice is to stop at the Glacier Public Service Center to use their clean, well-stocked restrooms with running water and no lines.

After a brief pre-trip meeting, we escaped the parking lot frenzy by heading west on the Chain Lakes trail, connecting to the Ptarmigan Ridge trail after ~1 mile. The trail is quite rocky in places and there were some short icy sections, however we made quick work of the trail section arriving at Coleman Pinnacle’s south ridge in about 2 hours. The scenery was stunning, with close views of Baker and Shuksan and vivid fall colors.

We were relieved to see just light traces of snow on the Pinnacle, which could have been challenging to climb with a thin layer of snow covering the rock. Leaving the trail, we ascended the south ridge and traversed the saddle towards the pinnacle.

On the saddle approaching the pinnacle:


The crux of the climb was completely unexpected: a tight stretch of trees, aka “the tree problem”, that we had to fight through to reach the pinnacle. The usual route bypasses these trees by dropping down the slope climber’s left, but a thin layer of snow covered the rocks with bad consequences for a slip, making the usual route treacherous in the current conditions.

Undaunted by the challenge, our group mustered on, using various methods to negotiate the tree problem: canopy walking, limbo, shape shifting. Several choice words were heard. However, once through, we thanked the trees for keeping us safe.

Photos of scramblers negotiating the tree problem:

tree problem2.HEIC

tree problem1.HEIC

The Pinnacle looks daunting on the approach, but readily doable once you are at the base of the rock. The rock is solid, and none of the moves are difficult, although there is a bit of exposure. One of our newer scramblers was a bit nervous, so we employed the “experience sandwich” (term coined by Glory). In an experience sandwich, the new scrambler climbs between two more experienced scramblers, feeling supported on both sides and able to follow the leader’s moves. This worked very well, with everyone making it to the top. We lounged on the summit for a good long time, soaking in the views and reveling in our accomplishment.


The descent and return to the trailhead was uneventful, after a second round of the tree problem. Overall this was a fantastic scramble, with a terrific team, fun rock, great scenery, and perfect weather. As a bonus, we got one scrambler her graduation scramble.

Thanks to Glory and Mela for sharing their photos.