OverviewBarrier Peak in Mt. Rainier National Park. From the approach to Owyhigh Lakes, all of the peaks appear jagged and technical. Fortunately for scramblers, the highest summit on Governors Ridge happens to be a Class 3 scramble. Owing to a climbing description in Peggy Goldman's Book 75 Scrambles in Washington, this peak probably sees some climbing activity, but in all probability, you will have it to yourself. It offers some really fun scrambling with great views of Mt. Rainier to the west and Mt. Adams and the Goat Rocks to the south. But be forewarned: BRING A HELMET! You will be climbing up one of the nastiest gullies full of loose rock that you will encounter anywhere.
This climb can also easily be combined with a scramble of nearby (and technically easier) Barrier Peak.
Hike the Owyhigh Lakes trail due south up the Shaw Creek valley. After hiking 4.5 miles, you will be above Owyhigh Lakes to your east. Continue south beyond the last of the lakes (about 1/2 mile more) and turn due east, heading towards a saddle between Governors Ridge and Barrier Peak. There is no easy route through the forest, and you will need to brushbeat a bit, but not for long, as you will soon break out of the forest and into open scree and heather slopes. Head up the saddle and drop to the other side. If climbing only Barrier Peak, traverse right (south) and climb along the ridge towards Barrier Peak. If climbing Governors Ridge, traverse left (north) past three butresses and find a 400-foot gully traversing steeply northwest towards the summit. Be careful in this gully. To call it nasty would be an understatement. Be sure to bring a helmet. At the top of the gully, climb through dwarf trees and grassy slopes, past some of the lower summits, to the highest summit directly in front of you.
Roundtrip Distance: 11 miles
Elevation Gain: About 2900 feet
Difficulty: Loose Class 3 scrambling
External LinksFor information including road closures and camping restrictions, you can contact Mount Rainier National Park at: Mt. Rainier National Park
Another great site is this excellent Mt. Rainier climbing blog, which gives up-to-date snowpack and road conditions on Mt. Rainier and the all of the roads: Mt. Rainier Climbing Page