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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Second Mother Mountain

Solitude and beautiful basins in the NW corner of Mt Rainier Park, along with an all-woman party, made for a successful scramble of Second Mother.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

For our trip, we generally followed the directions in 100 Peaks, using the Gordy Smith variant given lack of snow on the vast majority of the route.  Heading up to Castle Saddle from Mowich was slightly moist in the morning, and we worked to follow elk trails as able.  From the saddle, we headed down scree, dirt and grass, getting a bit off route in the trees above a band of cliffs, but eventually made our way to the 5100' lake.  We took the upper way around the lake, following easy snow, then rising up to around 5400', to follow benches and basins, up and down, up and down, with grass, trees, and lots of talus, to eventually arrive at the tarn directly below the summit of Second Mother.  The attached photo is taken just before descending to the tarn, as we were spotting the route up to the notch, which turned out easier than it might appear.  From the notch, it took a bit of effort to locate the spot to begin the described traverse, but we eventually found the 4-5 foot step, followed by heather slopes and a tight squeeze between trees.  From the summit, the view of Rainier and the remaining NW corner of the Park was superb.  For the descent, the chute back through the trees was tight, and we pulled out a handline for descending the step.  The remainder of the return trip was straightforward, and even from Castle saddle, it was easier to follow elk and bear trails on the descent.  We saw LOTS of scat, and called out for bear when entering meadows from trees, just to be sure.  We did see two separate small groups of goats in the afternoon light.

Overall, we found the route to involve lots of macro and micro navigation, challenging but in the end, always do-able.   While other parties have done this route faster, we were slowed by less snow, route-finding details, and enjoyable breaks and photography.  Our women-only party was supportive and encouraging and we had lots of good conversation to turn the challenges into a very enjoyable trip.