Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Howard Peak & Tolmie Peak

A straightforward fall scramble turned into a surprise snow scramble due an early fall storm

  • Snow and ice on road
  • 3 inches of snow fell over the previous 24 hours.  Fortunately our two Subarus made it to the trailhead without issue.    There was fresh snow along the entire trail up to Tolmie Lookout.  There was snow along the ridge to Tolmie Peak that required the use of microspikes, ice axe, and helmet.  After the summit of Tolmie, we descended down to catch the ridge over the Howard.  Plenty of snow along the meadows of heather.  Our microspikes were less useful as the snow just balled up on it.  From Tolmie Lookout back to the car, the snow had been packed down by other hikers, but the conditions for the descent were manageable. 

We did not expect to have so much snow so early in the fall.  We started off with about 3 inches on the trailhead.  Fortunately, other hikers had already been up ahead of us, so our trip to Tolmie Lookout was pretty straightforward.  At the top of Tolmie Lookout, we looked to the east and saw quite a bit of snow along the entire ridge to Tolmie Peak.  However, all 7 of us felt comfortable of traversing the ridge to the summit.  We used microspikes, ice axe, and of course our helmets to make a relatively easy crossing over to Tolmie Peak.  We took our time since there is some exposure in places.  We returned to Tolmie Lookout, had a quick snack, and continued our adventure to Howard Peak.  We descended the heather filled slopes (covered in snow) down to the ridge between Tolmie and Howard and then ascended up the broad summit of Howard itself.  We had about 3 inches of snow along the entire way.   One person did go to the rock east of Howard, but since the views of Rainier that we had earlier in the day had disappeared as clouds had moved it, the rest of us just stayed back and enjoyed our lunch.  We then returned the way we came and then descended back to the car. 

The track is here: