ApproachSee the "Getting There" section of the main page for directions to the trailhead.
Route DescriptionTrail is easy for about .2 miles and about 200 feet then launches upwards for probably 3 to 3.5 miles switchbacking up for about 3300 feet to the ridge. You'll reach a promontory about 6050 feet with great views of Rainier. About 6400 feet you will reach more open grassy slopes. The trail then diagonals SE below a talus field to gain the ridge. Countour around the west of one hump on the ridge to a shoulder where the west ridhe of Mt. Aix joins Nelson Ridge. Follow the ridge out east towards the summit.
Two ways to reach the summit:
Option 1-Class 2-the trail will split on the SW flank of the summit pinnacle. Take the left fork up through light grey rock between two black rock ridges. Easy scrambling to the summit.
Option 2-Class 3-4-take the right fork of the trail that contours around the south side of the summit to gain the east ridge at the base of the gendarmes. A faint trail weaves in and out of the gendarmes to a flat spot on the NE side of the summit pinnacle. During late season it appears there are easy trails on the north side of the summit. Early season means you weave back through the gendarmes staying on the north side of you can. If there is solid snow, you can walk it to the summit. If it's soft, you may have to climb and downclimb along the south side of the gendarmes (class 3 and 4) to the base of the summit where there are several rock steps remaining of a long-gone fire lookout. Easiest to descend via Option 1.
Essential GearEarly Season (May and June)-may want axe and crampons or just crampons to make things easier but not totally necessary. Depends on conditions. Most do without from what I can tell though.
Late season-plenty of water, can be a hot choker of a day.