Northeast Slope from Rawah #3

Northeast Slope from Rawah #3

Page Type: Route
Lat/Lon: 40.67660°N / 105.96678°W
Route Type: Mountaineering
Season: Summer, Fall
Time Required: One to two days
Difficulty: Relatively easy-class 2
Grade: II


This route starts by leaving the Rawah Trail #961, in the area north and east of Rawah Lake #3, traveling west, then SSW toward the summit. Due to the length of the approach hikes from the nearest trailheads, this route is best done as part of a multi-day trip. Numerous camping possibilities are available in the vicinity of the Rawah Lakes, which are southeast and northeast of the peak.

Though there’s no trail to follow, the open areas above #3 offer a relatively straight forward, class 2 hike to the 12,473 ft summit. The steepest part of the climb is from the head of the cirque to the eastern shoulder of the peak.


Trail junction

Southern Approach-
From the West Branch TH follow the West Branch Trail until it intersects the Rawah Trail at 3.7 miles. Turn right on the Rawah Trail, following it for 4.7 miles, up and over Grassy Pass to it's junction with Rawah Creek.

As you descend from Grassy Pass, Rawah Lake #3 comes into view and with it, the bowl above which holds the northeastern route to the summit.

A mile below the pass is a signed junction with the Sandbar Lakes Trail.
Take the left fork at the junction, staying on the Rawah Trail. As the trail nears Rawah Creek, cross-country routes into the cirque above the lake become visible.

Northern Approach-
From the Rawah TH follow the Rawah Trail until just before it crosses Rawah Creek, just above Rawah #2 at 8.75 miles. Hike SW from the ford, passing north of #3.

Route Description

Ascent & descent routes
Descending from the summit
Lower Route, above
N Rawah Routes

From the above mentioned point on the Rawah Tr., just east and slightly north of Rawah #3, head west, staying north of Rawah Lake #3 to avoid cliffing-out on the lake’s west side. Once you get above the lake on the north side, stay right to skirt the willows through a fairly flat section. You can cut through the willows where they narrow, aiming for a slight, rocky rise just east of the western most tarn, passing north of that rise and south of the tarn to the head of the cirque.

From the tarn, head up the steep slope in a WSWerly direction to the approximate point where the 11,800 ft bench meets the north slope of the peak. From this point, head south up the north facing slope. Work your way up the slope switchbacking east and west until you reach the broad, east shoulder of the peak at 12,000 ft. Continue west up the steep, rocky slope to a broad, grassy expanse at 12,400 before reaching the rockpile at the 12,473 ft summit.

Distances/Elevation Gain & Loss

From the West Branch TH
Approx. 9.6 miles
+4,243 ft, -400 ft

From the Rawah TH
Approx. 10.25 miles
+4,283 ft, -280

Our Route up was a bit different-Started at Rawah #1, passed south of Little Rainbow, climbed above the lake and drifted southward. Continued south climbing then descending from the 12,000 ft ridge to the 11,800 ft flat bench below. From the southern end of the bench we worked our way up the steep slope to the eastern shoulder of the peak. Scrambled up the last rockpile to the summit. When it was all said and done, we decided that our descent route was a better, more direct way to climb the peak than the route we took up.

Essential Gear

Backpacking gear for base camp with lots of DEET for mid-summer conditions.
Good hiking boots
Ice axe for early season
Crampons might come in handy in the early season when overnight temps are dropping below freezing.