Ascent of Unicorn Peak on 2017-06-14

Climber: Daniel Mick

Date:Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Unicorn Peak
    Elevation:6971 ft / 2124 m

Ascent Trip Report

Obvious TH pullout on park road.

A glorious climb that packs so much into such a short outing. As a Spring climb, easily one of my Top 10 favorite climbs.

Two climb teams camped at Cougar Rock group camp and swapped peaks on Tue and Wed. Castle-Pinnacle for us on Tue verged on poor, but we chased the sun to the top and were eventually rewarded with summits. We were concerned we would be weathered out since the previous day saw Unicorn socked-in all day - our peak-swap team turned back because of nasty conditions. We started out with a perfect day. Things suddenly changed at the transition saddle but we persisted and were awarded with a summit despite clouds swirling around us in both West and East basins, though they eventually cleared several hours later.

Snow from the parking lot. Our first track across the meadow was too high and West. But didn't waste much time or effort. Followed well-established snow trail all the way to the summit. The first gully was plenty soft for just boots. The second was also soft enough. The third and final to the saddle was high enough and shaded enough that it started off okay in the established track, but soon got hard and crusty. I took full responsibility for deciding to not don cramp-ons and kicked steps all the way up. Lesson learned: when in doubt, cramp-ons on if there will not be a chance to don them enroute.

The moat at the saddle was not yet established. We had just enough of a snow bridge to traverse shortly left/North, then sharply right/South through the 3rd class scramble. We quickly ascended the final upper slope and were completely wind-free on the summit ridge.

No moat at the summit block. Set ground anchor from the low dead tree. Easy scramble veering right to ledge, then left through obvious crack to top. I set 5 slings and nuts. Some on the team found this slightly difficult. I would rate my path a 5.4, though if I chose the same crack others rate it 5.0? It took 1 hour 45 minutes for the whole team to summit and rappel. Not bad for 4 new BCEP grad climbers, and 1 experienced assistant!

Plunge-stepped back to "moat" and down to saddle transition. Glissaded all the way back to Snow Lake, though a couple are super steep - stay in control! Slow hike out due to weary team member.

1/1 ACCESS - National Park parking lot
2/2 REMOTENESS (Popularity, Sight/Sound) - crazy busy in Summer, but mid-week Spring we were the only parties in the whole range
1/1 CONDITION - wide obvious trail and tons of beta
3/3 VARIETY (Flora and Fauna, Geological, Terrain) - a little bit of everything!
3/3 VIEWS - towering Rainier and sweeping vistas
TOTAL 10/10
(does not include difficulty since hikers may prefer opposite extremes)

Ultimate OR & WA Lists: CoHP, CoPP, Top e100, Top p100
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3346 ft / 1019 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3346 ft / 1019 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.4 mi / 8.8 km
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Rock Climb, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Ski Poles
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2886 ft / 879 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2426 ft / 739 m; Extra: 460 ft / 140m
    Loss on way in:460 ft / 140 m
    Distance:2.7 mi / 4.4 km
    Route:Snow Lake
    Start Trailhead:Snow Lake TH  4545 ft / 1385 m
    Time:4 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2886 ft / 879 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2426 ft / 739 m; Extra: 460 ft / 140m
    Gain on way out:460 ft / 140 m
    Distance:2.7 mi / 4.4 km
    End Trailhead:4545 ft / 1385 m
    Time:2 Hours 15 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Daniel Mick
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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