Governors Ridge is the serrated, multi-summited ridge north of Barrier 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
Traversing from Trail to Pass Climbing Nasty Gully Gully to Pass TOPO! Software Image.
From Enumclaw drive SR-410, past the Crystal Mountain Resort, and into the White River Entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park. At 2 miles from the park entrance and 1 mile beyond Shaw Creek, find the Owyhigh Lakes trailhead, elevation 3700 feet.
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
Rainier from Governors Topping Out
There is no red tape on this trip at all. Since the trailhead is on SR-410, there is no entrance fee to the park, nor is there any parking pass required at the trailhead. There are no permits required on the trail.
Looking down from summit Governors Needle
Camping is possible at sites along the Owyhigh Lakes Trail at some established sites with water from Shaw Creek. This seems preferable to Owhyhigh Lakes, as I did not see any good camping areas at the lakes themselves, and the lakes are bug-infested and don't seem too clean.
For 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