Trip Report    

Winter Scramble - Osborne Mountain

A surprisingly delightful outing. Osborne Mountain probably isn't in the top 5 winter scramble objectives in the Nisqually area of Rainier, but it also shouldn't be at the bottom of your list.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

A group of 8 scramblers met at the entrance to Big Creek Campground at 8 AM on Saturday, January 29, 2022. The entrance to the campground is gated and we parked on the side of  Skate Creek Road. For most of the winter, this should be accessible to all vehicles (excluding periods of heavy snow).

We departed the trailhead at 8:22 AM. There was hard packed snow on the ground so we put on microspikes almost immediately. The snow all but disappeared until around 3,400', where it was patchy and easily navigated with microspikes. The snow disappeared again as we started the switchbacks up to the ridge, and we didn't get continuous snow cover until around 4,200' on the ridge. Despite the occasional posthole, microspikes were fine for this section up until the summit. We brought but did not use snowshoes, ice axes, and helmets. We also didn't observe any areas of the route that would be prone to significant avalanche danger, making it a potentially good destination when there is considerable avalanche danger above treeline. 

The ridge walk was prettier than I'd expected, with peekaboo views of Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams to the south of us and periodic views of Rainier and the surrounding peaks to the north. I'd recommend wandering the ridge a bit to get the best views on both sides. Watch out for cornices on the north.

We all summited at around noon and enjoyed a leisurely 45 minutes complete with summit cookies on a big open spot on the ridge just to the east of the summit before getting cold enough to want to start walking again. We were back to the cars just after 3 PM. My GPS put this trip at 8.54 miles and 3,238' of elevation gain.