I have done it both as a one-dayer and a two-dayer. I think I prefer two days, as it is more leisurely. Camping on the Lunch Counter can be magical at sunset and sunrise as you watch colors and shadows appear or disappear on the snow slopes
Attempted a car 2 car single day trip. Per other trip reports, I advise taking the I5, I84 route vs. FS 23 from Seattle. We had a very late start and picked up our Volcano passes at the Trout Lake ranger station and arrived at a very full trailhead lot at 3 am. The road is in very bumpy and, narrows to one lane with few pullouts for the final 3 miles. Very nice trailhead lot with lots of parking, spots for camping, tents and RV,s and a couple of good pit toilets.
We hit the trail at 6:45 AM - if you are doing a single day push I would advise an earlier start as we encountered significant slushy snow on Pikers Peak. The face was massively sun cupped and stepping on these caused them to most often collapse, making the going up very difficult.
The trail follows an old road, winding through the burnt-out forest. It makes for an eerie, yet very beautiful scene, especially when we descended at sunset. Many wildflowers are in bloom. Upon crossing Morrison creek, the trail winds through lava formations and twisted knarled Mountain Hemlocks. Here the trail is marked with mounds of lava rocks supporting tall wood poles up to Crescent glacier making the path up the ridge easy to follow. Many campsites line the trail, each surrounded with lava rocks for wind and privacy breaks. We encountered a lone mountain goat.
The snow started at 8100 feet persistently. One could follow adjacent rock fields, but those appeared more challenging to traverse. We passed the Lunch Counter and passed many people already making their descent. Some folks climbed at night to see the sunrise. Upon arriving at the snowfield leading to Pikers Peak, we saw two well-established glissade chutes. These looked like bobsled runs. As we made our way up the steep snow, I was envious of all the climbers who had earlier starts, as the snow was soft and slushy, making upward progress really difficult. The snow is massively sun cupped - up to 2 feet deep wells, but they were mostly soft and did not assist in the ascent. Kick stepping was a challenge, and an ice axe and crampons were a must for this time of day.
As we ascended many people were cruising down the glissade chutes. You can descent then entire slops using one of them. We finally made the ridge of Pikers Peak exhausted, at nearly 5 PM, our turn around time. I didn't want to descent in the dark, and making the final push to the summit would have ensured a long day in the dark. Some of my peers here on WTA have made much faster times up! Impressive as I was spent when I finally hit the 11522 ft mark. We opted to take a few pictures from the plateau. The weather could not have been more perfect. Low winds, no clouds, and a beautiful sunset. We took the chutes down and make it to the area above Lunch Counter in about 7 mins, clocking in a max 56 mph!
We made good time down the mountain, fortunately as its a lot of ground to cover, esp in a car2car push. The trail through the burned-out area was exceptionally beautiful at sunset. We took a lot of photos as I have not spent much time in areas affected by fire much. It's amazing to see the foliage that grows in this type of terrain.
I may opt to do this trip again in a 2-day format, taking time to enjoy more of the mountain and the area as its rather beautiful. A full set of photographs geotagged to the trail and location is available in my AllTrails link. Also, check out the video flythrough in the Vimeo link.
Water is in short supply above Morrison creek. Melting snow and some runoff melt are your options. Plan accordingly.
it was a zoo of people up there, but it was still fun to camp and climb at altitude
Its like 2000 vertical feet without any real breaks, it was very fun, really good skiing in the right conditions
Day climb via South Spur. Took our party about 12 hours, partly because the conditions were not conducive to a good time, so we booted all the way down. Clouds and high winds rolled in near the summit, so we had no visibility at the top.
More mock guiding. This time after a front country seminar in land navigation we put it to the test up on Baker. Navigating by paper map and compass with a GPS as secondary instead of primary. This was a test of the white out planning process and the adequacy of my process there. Partner did awesome. This is a great route to dial skills you'll use everywhere else.
Went with a friend and mock guided the entire thing. Working on rounding out my skill set. Focused on personal skill building in the following areas: Tour Plan, Risk Management, Land Navigation, and Leave No Trace. Did it in good style. The route is very straight forward and doesn't require a lot of technical experience. It is a mountain to be respected though. The False summit is SO False.
Good hike with my friends.
the glissade(s) lived up to the term "legendary".
A great day with fellow SPer Guy. With the route almost entirely snow-covered from Lunch Counter up this June 25th, I just couldn't imagine mules being forced up this mountain. As a day hike, you'll know you've been somewhere and the views of various iconic Northwest peaks along the way are glorious.
We made the summit on a cold, cloudy, blustery day (even had some snowfall) but as bonus, we had the summit to ourselves!
Found a camera on the way up sitting on some rocks in the Lunch Counter area. The last photo on it was from Aug 1. If you lost a camera contact me to identify and I'll get it back to you.
Climbed the route in early June, and 3000 feet of glissade chutes was a wonderful way to descend!
Drove out to the trail head via many windy forest roads that had downed trees and fallen rocks to avoid only to find that the Volcano permits can only be purchased at the ranger stations, so we drove back down to the station and go back up to the trail head, slept for about 25 minutes and started the climb.
Not a cloud in the sky, however the wind was howling like crazy at the top. Had a great descent on a snowboard. Great climb.
Great sunset from the Lunch Counter
Nice climb up. A quite painful glissade down though.
My first big climb three years ago when i was just getting into mountaineering. We took three days but should have just descended the second day as winds the second night were heinous.
Spent the night short of Lunch Counter (about 8400'). Left camp at 0400 and then on up to the top. Surprised not that many others started as early as us but at about 0700 everyone came out of Lunch Counter and headed up. It was a good day though.
Easy day climb up, amazing ride down, 6000+ vertical feet in 1.5hrs (with breaks:P)
a fun easy walk up route. good for endurance training
A pretty uneventful climb! Bring some beer!