With gimpilator, his friend Kevin and my brother Josh. The trail was in decent condition and flagged in key points below Rainy Lake. Solid snow about 3,000. It was the most gain I've done in months-had me cramping near the top. Had to avoid 12' cornices on summit ridge. Bluebird day. Quoted some psalms, proverbs and Luke while enjoying views. Sloshed, plunged and glissaded as needed. Managed to get down in time for Chipotle.
10 hours and 43 minutes round trip.
After 4 previous tries, I finally summited Preacher. Ok, the first attempt I was bushwhacking up the north/east side of Rainy Creek, oblivious to the trail on the other side of the Creek. Two other attempts were mid-winter jaunts and not real efforts. The 4th attempt was a real effort, but I turned back at the upper lake because of avy danger.
But today was a success. 4.75 hours to the summit, 3 hours down. It's a long push. Pretty solid snow at about 3000 to 3200, but much of the traverse at the 3800 level, going east to Rainy Lake was snow-free (but the trail was long lost). Navigationally, the most difficult issue is the traverse east over to Rainy Lake. The most pleasant section is from the upper lake to the summit. The new Snoqualmie River trail makes finding the Rainy Creek trail a non-issue: turn uphill on the track a hundred meters after the River Trail crosses a bridge over Rainy Creek.
Noticed other tracks on the upper mtn...perhaps it was Willhite party from 10 days previous.
The stats don't tell the whole story on this one. It may be about 5,000 feet of elevation gain, but it feels like a lot more due to the poor condition of the Rainy Lake Trail and brush-beating above it. Easiest climbing is up high once on the final approach, but by then, the approach will have taken its toll. It was very snowy and we couldn't find any register, but I cannot believe that this is climbed all that often.
Ok, I found the Rainy Creek trail this time. The trail is in good shape and provides pretty quick access to Rainy Lake. Recent wash-out and trail relocation of the Middle Fork Trail can make finding the start to the Rainy Lake Trail somewhat problematic. Currently, when coming down the Middle Fork Trail, the middle fork no longer crosses Rainy Creek when it first encounters the creek. Instead the Middle Fork Trail stays on the west side of the creek, sandwiched between Rainy Creek and the Middle Fork. The Middle Fork Trail does not cross Rainy Creek until close to the confluence with the Snoqualmie. But the start to the Rainy Creek trail is back where the Middle Fork Trail first encounters Rainy Creek. For the first 1/4 mile or more the Rainy Creek trail stays within 20 feet of Rainy Creek, on it's south side, so it's easy to find where ever you cross Rainy Creek.
Oblivious to the trail on the south/west side of Rainy Creek, I tried to ascend on the north/east side of Rainy Creek. There is some faint and infrequent travel wear on this side, but it's basically off-trail travel. Interestingly, there was a logging road on this side, up to the 1800 foot level, but very little trace of the road remains. The road is just as bushy/grown over as the surronding forest and is only revealed by "grading" countours at points and some old steel cable remnents. The travel is off-trail, but the bush is kept down by the fairly mature trees. It's not too bad, but there is a lot of micronavigation and clambering over downfalls.