You have just climbed a major summit the day before but the weather is beautiful and you really are looking for another uncrowded yet nice fulfilling snow-climb on a mountain well photographed yet not well climbed. Your feet ache from Rainier but want to get something small before you leave Washington and Little Si or Tiger Mountain are not exactly in your tastebuds. You want to take a kids for a drive and your significant other is willing to babysit them as you quench your tastebud for a terrific view and a great snowclimbing experience. Or my best example, you have to be at work at 3 pm yet you really want to knock off a 6000 foot mountain with a terrific snowclimb or scramble.
Well the north gully of Yakima Peak is the perfect pick for you. The trailhead for this mountain is literally right off of Highway 410 less than a thousand feet from the true summit of Yakima Peak. This gully is perfect as a spring snow-climb with a nice 40-50 degree rise from the high valley floor to within 100 feet of the summit. The run-out to this gully is relatively safe making it a decent gully to do practice climbs on.
Usually though by July this gully will melt out and by August the gully will become a Class 2+ gully scramble up to the ridge with a small traverse over to the true summit. In fall the bear grass in this area changes into very beautiful colors and the climb up through the fall colors is quiet breathtaking of Rainier and the other mountains in the area.
It should be noted that Chinook Pass is closed in winter and much of spring. The pass can receive up to 600 inches of snow and can sometimes see snow at anytime of the year. For snow-climbs the best time of year to hit the north gully is literally days after Chinook Pass has opened up. You can get that information from the Mount Rainier website. For the snow free scramble August and September are usually good bets for this region.
VIA 410: The trailhead to to Yakima Peak is located on Highway 410 roughly a fifth of a mile east of Chinook Pass. Park on in the parking area on the northern lot towards the ridgeline in the obvious parking area that also has bathroom facilities for guests.
From the visitor parking area you want to head right up the open (or snow-covered field) right up to the top of the ridge-line. This is quick 400 foot rise which can be easily seen from the road. The angle here is maybe 30 degrees top and you will pass right on by the Pacific Crest Trail as you head on up this mountain.
Once on the ridge you want to angle to the left where you will see an obvious gully from you vantage point. From there head straight to the gully. Make your ascent here up the 400 foot gully until the you reach the ridge-line. Depending when you go you will either encounter a 45-50 snow-climb up the gully or you will encounter a Class 2 + scramble heading up this gully. Either way there is a decent run-out below you on the north gully.
Once on the top of the ridge you want to make a quick left and take the route up the last 80-100 feet to the true summit. Once you reach the flat summit you will be able to enjoy the beautiful that come from this terrific mountain. Descend the way you came up.
This will depend on when you go. For the spring snow-climb an ice axe is mandatory and crampons are highly advisable. For the summer scramble just essential hiking gear is required. Though not required, I would strongly advise a climbing helmet for both the snow-climb and the scramble!!
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The best place to get trail conditions on Yakima Peak and the surrounding region.