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Trip Report    

Winter Scramble - Preacher Mountain

Small group broke a lot of trail and worked our navigation skills to find our way on a beautiful March day.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • It would be a great help to anyone doing this scramble in winter to have hiked up the Rainy Creek Trail and have some idea of where it goes.  There are clues like cut logs, but when obscured by snow, be ready to ask "if I were a trail, where would I be.."  Stay near the creek and you will be okay.

    After climbing up a few steep open sections adjacent to Rainy Creek, you will begin crossing tributary creeks around 2600ft.  After crossing two or three of these, turn up the hill (SW) wherever it goes.  There are many braided streams, down trees and navigational challenges until you come to 3000ft.  The forest flattens a bit and opens up.  This is an old hemlock forest, many of these trees are giants.

    The valley wants you to continue southwesterly toward the ridge leading to The Pulpit.  It is smarter to cross a stream or two around 3100ft and go directly south into gradually steepening terrain to 3600ft.  From there head to Rainy Lake, rising where possible to 3700 where you should find a small rock band.  Scramble up 100ft. and you will be able to side-hill at 3800 to Rainy Lake.  

    Once at Rainy Lake, this is a straight-forward, follow-the-ridge scramble.  At 4800 it really begins to open up as you skirt more open slopes above Rainy Lake.  At 5200 come to a flat area with a pond on the map, continue south through this area and hit the next ridge at 5420, it will be steep for a bit.  Pick a good line and enjoy a great final summit push. Watch for certain cornicing along summit ridge.

Trip Date: March 24, 2018

Our strong group of four took 12 hours to complete this scramble.  4-12 inches of fresh low-density snow covered a rain crust.  Side-hilling in snowshoes on this slippery, difficult to break crust certainly added time.  We spent around 11 hours moving.  This could have easily been a longer day had I not been up the bottom portion of the route before (The Pulpit).  We still made a couple of mistakes finding Rainy Lake.  

This would be a five-star scramble if not for the portion from trailhead to 3000ft.  I rate it 4/5.  From Rainy Lake it is a beautiful alpine scramble in the snow.  We saw no one else all day.