Hunting for Unicorns

Last weeks climb to Unicorn Peak, the tallest in the Tatoosh range at 6,971ft, was a huge success.  Honestly there isn’t a lot to tell because it was a rather uneventful climb… uneventful in the sense of no accidents, disasters, near misses… It is strange that I think of a climb as uneventful if nothing goes bad.  Really it was full of exciting and memorable moments.  The hike up to Snow Lake and Bench Lake is fairly easy and short and every time you turn around Rainier is looming up behind you.  The weather for our climb was perfect, blue skies, sun shine, a little breeze, it was stunning.  Once you get to snow lake you leave the trail and head up the first gully, which can sometimes have pretty sketchy avalanche conditions because of the slopes above but avalanche danger was low while we were out there.  It was a warm day though so the chance of wet avalanches was a possibility and we saw some evidence of them later in the day.  After the first gully you cross a bowl and head up a second gully to the saddle where you then turn towards Unicorn and traverse the ridge up to the summit block.  Once at the summit block you have a couple of options.  There are a few 5.6 climbs or you can head around to the other side for a class four scramble.  Our lead instructor led one of the 5.6 routes and the rest of us received a top rope belay.  It was only my second time climbing in mountaineering boots but I found it easier than the last time we did it.  The whole group was up on the summit in no time!  We then rappelled back down, headed down the mountain and took every opportunity to glissade the gullies we had come up.  Overall it was an incredible climb with amazing conditions and spectacular views of Rainier, Goat Rocks, Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, Mt Hood, and myriad other peaks and valleys.  I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Tonight we are heading back up to Rainier to stay for the weekend.  Tomorrow we have crevasse rescue up on the Nisqually Glacier at 8,000ft and on Sunday we are climbing Castle and Pinnacle Peak in the Tatoosh Range.  Yes, they are actually putting us in a crevasse.  Yes, I am terrified.  Expect an update next Friday!

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As Edward Abbey said, "An indoor life is the next best thing to a premature burial."

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