The weather was iffy but I decided to drive up to Rainier NP for two reasons. 1) scouting mission for our Rainier climb via Kautz Glacier at the end of this month, and 2) climb Pinnacle Peak. When I arrived at Paradise, the snow started coming down and wind picked up. Visibility was not very good so I decided to scratch mission #1. Now onto mission #2.
I sat in my car for about 30 minutes at the Pinnacle Peak trailhead, elevation 4900 ft (parking lot of reflection lakes approx. 3 miles downhill from Paradise on Stevens Canyon Rd) waiting for the weather to clear. Drizzle off and on and showed no signs of improvement. What the hell, I drove 2 hours to get here, I mind as well set off rain or shine.
Not knowing what to expect weather wise and not having done this climb before, I decided to be caution and take everything (crampons, rope, harness, wands, gore, ice axe, helmet, map, compass, altimeter, etc.).
Started on snow right from the trailhead at 2:00PM. Following the boot track I quickly made good way. Although rain was coming down a little harder, the hike was pleasant. I was alone in my thoughts and enjoying the solitude. At about 5600 ft, the rain turned to snow and visibility was about 200 ft.
Before I knew it, I was at the Pinnacle saddle and heading towards the base of the summit pinnacle. Now, the fun began. The lower part was easy class 2 and the upper portion turned to class 3 scramble. Near the summit, there was one section where I would consider as class 4 on solid rock (comparable to final section of Little Tahoma or some sections of Shuksan pinnacle). The rock was wet from snow so I had to be extra careful of my hand holds and footing.
Reached the summit in 1hr 15 minutes. I was hoping the weather would clear and see the grand view of Rainier but not today. All I can see around me was white.....
Quick self portraits of myself on the summit and I was off. Not wanting to down climb the wet steep section, I set up a quick rappel using a solid tree. This was the best part of the climb! After few ankle twists on my descent through the rock area and few slips on the soft snow, I was back at my car (ouch! my ankle was little sore for couple of days!).
Overall, I didn't mind the rain or snow. A very short climb (more like a scramble). Very easily done in half day from Seattle. I would definately recommend doing this climb in spring/early summer to add that winter feeling.