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Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Pinnacle Peak & The Castle (winter)

Unicorn to The Castle Traverse.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • We had snow most of the entire route.  There was no need for crampons or snowshoes.  Both Unicorn and The Castle were snow free and dry on the climbing routes.

This was done as a Unicorn to The Castle traverse.  We left a car at Reflection lakes for the return shuttle and parked at the Unicorn (snow lake) parking lot. this parking lot was PACKED at 7:30am.  The route up to Unicorn was in good shape and we passed several groups on the way.  At the top of the 2nd steep slope we had to traverse right under the cliffs and up the south side to gain the Unicorn ridge as the normal straight up (and much shorter) option was completely melted out and had a large shrund to step over onto somewhat wet and slippery rock scrambling above it.  

We arrived at the base of Unicorn as the first party but JUST before a 12 party Mazama group and shortly after that several other parties.  Overall by the  time we completed the climb and rappeled off on there were approximately 25+ climbers on, or waiting for the two main routes up.  

After glissading down the upper steep snow slope leading into Unicorn creek drainage we exited left and gained the ridge.  We chose to stay lower and traverse flat rather than follow the  ridge over the sub peak to save elevation gain. This probably is not the ideal route as we were cliffed out halfway across and had to ascend essentially within 200' of the ridge crest anyway.  The remainder to The Castle was a straight forward ridge traverse.  

There were no parties on the Castle and we were able to climb the short 4th/5th class step to the summit ridge and fix a hand line to the true summit for the students to clip into for self belay.  

After rappeling off, rather than exit via the normal summer route (descending to the right and scrambling a short step before heading west and traversing under Pinnacle to the Pinnacle/Plumber saddle) we headed left (north) and descended the slopes directly to the cars at Reflection lakes. this probably saved us an hour as it took us less than 20 minutes to get back to the cars this route.  

Gear needed - ice axe, light rack and rock gear.  if conditions had been cooler (it was upper 80's at Longmire and warm the night before) crampons would have been possibly useful as well.