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West Ridge

 

Page Type: Route

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 46.74700°N / 121.766°W

Object Title: West Ridge

Route Type: Scramble

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: Class 3-4

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes
 

 

Page By: mandrake

Created/Edited: Jun 20, 2005 / Aug 14, 2012

Object ID: 165564

Hits: 1499 

Page Score: 72.08%  - 2 Votes 

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Approach

From the Nisqually (southwest) entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park, follow the road ~7mi to Longmire. Turn right at the entrance near the Longmire Wilderness Information Center and drive through the housing area for the park employees to cross a narrow one-lane suspension bridge over the Nisqually River. There are two possible trailheads:

1) Look for a trailhead immediately on the left upon crossing the bridge. (Not much parking here.) This is a bit of a shortcut if coming from the ranger enclave.
2) Continue down the road a short distance to locate the official start of the Eagle Peak trail on the left/east side of the road.

Alternately you can park at the Wilderness Information Center and hike in.

Route Description

Follow the well-maintained Eagle Peak trail upwards from Longmire (~2800'). Approximately a half-mile before the Eagle-Chutla saddle (~3mi from the trailhead), the trail opens into a large meadow area and abruptly switchbacks to the left (elevation ~5000'). At this point, continue straight ahead to locate a faint (somewhat overgrown) user trail that makes its way slowly upwards through trees and meadow. The trail eventually bears climber's right, turning southeast and reaches a talus field below the cliffs of Chutla Peak. Continue straight across to pick up the trail again on the far side. The trail is faint in this section and continues on a rising traverse across a steep meadow area to the trees just below the Chutla-Wahpenayo saddle at about 5600'. You are now on Wahpenayo's western ridge.

There is a trail that heads more or less directly up the ridge from the saddle although as of August 2012 there was one minor washout and there was a short overgrown stand of young trees to push through. Another option that may be easier would be to drop down north of the saddle and then head up one of the open gullies on the north side of the ridge and pick up the trail higher up.

If staying on the ridge, the track is relatively obvious above the stand of trees. Continue along, staying north of the ridge and ascending. The trail eventually gives out on what looks to be a small bivy spot on a bench. From here, wind your way upwards. Sticking lower down on the north side of the ridge is a good bet... staying too high may force you to downclimb a bit to get around various obstacles. When in doubt, head up to regain the top of the ridge and you'll pick up the user trail.

The route winds its way tot he top of two easy "false summits" (elevation loss between them is minimal). Drop back down the backside of the first and traverse to reach a short steep eroded step (scrambly class 3-4). Make your way to the second false summit and descent a short distance again through some great gnarled alpine trees and bear right for a final scramble up to the true summit (6231' elevation). Wahpenayo offers a great 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape and Mt. Rainier.

Wahpenayo Peak from Longmire: ~4.5mi one-way, ~3400' gain

Essential Gear

Ice axe, crampons and possibly a rope in the early season if there's snow. Sometimes the ridge doesn't melt out until August.