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Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Unicorn Peak/South Side

Great early-season climb.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Trail melted out until near Snow Lake, then snow.  Boulder field mostly melted out--faint trail on climbers left.  Main snow gully on up in excellent shape--recent snow from Tuesday and Friday did not seem to accumulate so the existing snow is very solid.  Moat below final rock scramble to ridge described in other reports this year is still a problem and looks like it will get worse rather than better.

This is my 4th time climbing Unicorn in the last 5 years and it's always fun.  Short with a pleasant approach and no garbage miles--everything is enjoyable.  We had a full panoply of PNW weather with rain, snow, wind, and even some sun and occasional partial views of Rainier.

Snow conditions were excellent.  Snow was just soft enough to kick steps but we also wore crampons going up which helped a bit.  We took them off for the final steep section to the moat so we could transition to rock, but the snow there was soft enough for good steps.

I was surprised at the moat since there I don't recall any such trouble my last 3 trips including last year which had very low snow.  It was a bit dicey to get onto the rock from the snow, and the rock was wet and any fall would end up in the moat.  We almost turned around but rope leads Shelley and Clint found a relatively safe route going left and then right back to the final scramble, set up a rope at the rappel anchor at top (which I also don't recall from previous years), and everyone prusiked or was belayed up.  We all rappelled down as well.

Weather was bad when we got to the summit so we skipped doing the rock horn.  It remained unstable the rest of the day, and there were some big downpours on the drive back that I'm glad we missed in the mountains.  Excellent glissades on the way down.  We started a little after 8 and finished a little after 2 for about 6 hours.