Trip Report    

Intermediate Snowshoe - Pinnacle Peak & The Castle

We beat the atmospheric river which arrived, perfectly timed, just as we returned to the cars, and found a successful trip in considerable Avy conditions too.

  • Snow and ice on road
  • While chains were required on vehicles without AWD, we all had AWD vehicles and found the driving easy enough.

I was nervous about this trip, seeing considerable Avy conditions above 5500’ for Friday, noting 14” of precip on the mountain since Monday but only with 3-4” of new actual accumulation to the snowpack.  Additionally, the gate above Longmire had been closed since Monday, and with our group being the first to arrive at Narada on Friday, we effectively made our own tracks all day, seeing only one other group when we were just about back to the cars in the afternoon.  Overall, to cut to the chase, we had a great small team that worked well together, pausing often to discuss conditions and navigation, and while we were distinctly in the clouds for the final few hundred feet of climbing, the quality of adventure, solitude, and teamwork all combined to make it a super fun day.  

Beginning from Narada, we followed the marked/ wanded route to intersect the road.  We elected to follow the road around Inspiration Point on the way to Reflection Lakes.  Here, we saw a few old rollerballs, but generally stable snow conditions.  After pausing for a snack at Reflection, we began the true part of the climb to Castle Bump, gaining 1400’ in the next bit.  The way up is generally in safe Avy terrain, with the exception of crossing the gully.  We came to the gully perhaps a bit high in retrospect, 5520’, and took it across one at a time.  It went.


Shortly above the gully, we arrived at “snack ledge”, where we paused before the final 600’ of climbing.  We steered well to the east of the Castle, just below the band of trees.  Here, the slope above merged with the gray clouds, turning it into a black and white kind of day.


Shortly we were at the top, ready for summit selfies and lunch!  

After lunch, we headed back down, enjoying plunge stepping.  Interestingly, when we returned to the gully, in the couple of intervening hours, there had been a bunch of snow being shed from trees, which then served to make some notably good sized rollerballs.  One of our group submitted an observation to NWAC about this.


From here, the way went easily back to the Reflection Lakes.  For the return leg, we elected to go over Inspiration Saddle.  For the first time on our trip, we encountered some snowshoe tracks made by someone else, although never encountered the people who made them.  The temps were rising, and we did get rained on for the last few minutes, and did note that the snow was getting much heavier.  Back at the cars, we quickly packed up and headed down the road, finishing our trip with a visit to Whittakers Bunkhouse for some coffee and ice cream.