The Three Summits of Fremont
Heading off the Mount Fremont Trail is not encouraged by the Park Service. Though it is legal to do so, most park rangers frown upon it because often it will encourage many others, who are likely much less experienced to follow in your track. Once you leave the well organized trail one can enter some very wild terrain in a hurry. If you do want to duplicate this trip I would recommend bringing a helmet to identify yourself as knowledgeable scrambler and not a lost tourist or day-hiker. Go off trail when there is no one looking! If another follows you up and doesn't seem to know about what they are facing feel free to tell about what they are about to be doing.
For a long time I had wondered if going up to the summit of Mount Fremont was a legal issue or not. One time I was thinking about going up to the summit of Mount Fremont and some tourist told me that going up to the true summit of Mount Fremont would result in fines and possible jail time. I quickly lost interest in that peak after that and just excepted the lookout and the views that the lookout had. Something did not feel write about what the guy was saying but the last thing I ever want to do is get myself in a whole bunch of legal trouble just because I climbed a mountain. During the next summer I had no desire to go back there because I was more worried about climbing Mount Rainier and other mountains of similar scale. But this year with my two job situation and the very limited time I have to get out I regrew an interest for this mountain again.
Coming back from Skyscraper I got another good look at Mount Fremont and the desire to get up that mountain became much larger again. Luckily on the way back I saw a ranger on the trail and discussed the legality of climbing Mount Fremont. He told me that though the peak is legal to climb the park rangers like to discourage it because of the fact that it could cause damage to the ecosystem from overuse and encourage tourist and day-hikers with little experience to attempt the true summit and get themselves in a whole lot of trouble. He also recommended when to go and head for the true summit so that I will not be influencing others to do so. I took down the information and decided to make plans for a trip out there.
Jordan and I were both getting mountain hungry and will all of the new information we had we decided to head out for Mount Fremont. I was tired from yet another rough morning at work and just wanted to get some fresh air. It was a beautiful sunny day in Seattle but by the time we hit Sunrise at 6400 feet it was both cloudy and very cool. Sunrise is very beautiful when it is sunny but when it is foggy Sunrise is just not the same kind of place.
As soon as we got to the trailhead we headed on up to the true summit of Fremont. The clouds was be in and out from time to time but by the time we got to Mount Fremont the fog on the peak. We made ourselves quickly up the well maintained park service trail. These trail were in good condition and even with some of the sections being covered with snow, the trail were in great for making fast time on. Quickly Jordan and I made our way up the trail and stayed on it until our turnoff to the true summit.
Summit #1: The Middle and True Summit
We found ourselves on the backside of the summit area and the trail was not busy at all. From there we just took a short but steep off-trail hike/scramble up to the true summit. Luckily there was no one around of and we both had our proper gear so that there would not be much confusion between us and the common tourist day-hikers that usually heading for the lookout. Once we made the summit we decided to take it easy and enjoy the summit all to ourselves.
The view from the top was foggy but we did get glimpses of nearby mountains in the region. I saw another peak off in the distant that was labeled as Mount Fremont though the mountain did look shorter. Jordan and I decided to head over that way to take a look at the mountain.
Summit #2: The Southern Marked summit and its scramble
As we walked along the awesome ridge we struck by the beauty of this place. Soon we were at the col between the two peaks and decided to get a closer and see what we were dealing with. Once on a viewpoint, we realized that this peak was going to require some Class 2 and Class 3 scrambling. It was time to get the helmet on and go for it.
We headed for the south side decided to to a safe side traverse past the first smaller sub-peak. We actually positioned ourselves in a moat in order to safely travel to our destination. From there we went up a Class 2 scree gully all the to the ridge between the two peak areas. From there we maneuvered ourselves right to the summit rocks. Jordan took lead here. The final summit rock was quiet lose here but the exposure on this scramble remained moderate. At first I was skeptical to do the scramble but after Jordan found a good route, I went for it.
Views on the summit were still cloudy but we did see the north summit from this point which actually looked close to the height of the middle. This peak clearly looked much lower than the other two though on a sunny day this summit probably provides better views. The peak though is much more impressive though and as well worth the extra effort. We though were now running out of time and want to get to that northern summit as soon as possible.
Summit #3 The Northern Cairned Summit
Jordan and I took our time on the scramble but then speed up as soon as was fog was still thick but we wanted to make 100% sure we got the true summit of Mount Fremont so after getting off the scramble we made quick tracks to the northern summit. We headed down and picked up the trail and quickly we were standing at the foot of the northern summit area. We quickly hiked up to the top of the northern summit where we were greeted with cairns and a site we had not scene all day; Mount Rainier.
Mount Rainier was sticking out right over the fog and for a very short time we were actually above the clouds. For the very short time we were there Mount Rainier was beautiful and the peak really stood out to us. But we could not be there for long because we were quickly running out of daylight. So unfortunately we had to head back. We decided to skip the lookout because that area looked like it was still covered in clouds plus we both had to rush back.
Heading Down and Conclusion
We raced down the mountain to beat total nightfall. On our way down though we did have one last view of the mountains with the final evening sun on them. It was one of the prettiest site I have seen in a long time. We stopped and took some impressive pictures along the way. With the trails in Mount Rainier National Park being in good working order we made our way quickly back to Sunrise. In actuality we made it back about 10 minutes before we would have had to put on our headlamps. That being said it was yet another great day in the mountains. I am very glad that I finally was able to finish these mountain and show the true Mount Fremont and the beautiful peaks it has.
I want to they my counterpart Jordan for coming on this hike and many others this summer. He really help finding a great route on the scramble. This day was a great one on a peak not many really ever get to see the true summit of. Can't wait until the next adventure though.