Scramble up Black Peak's South Ridge

Rate this Adventure Washington Rainy Lake Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    7 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    4700 Feet

Easy Parking
Forest
Lake

A scramble up an iconic and intimidating peak in the rugged North Cascades. 

Starting at Rainy Pass trailhead, you'll proceed to skirt high above Lake Ann on a marvelously maintained trail. Without realizing you're about to arrive at a pass, you'll come to Heather Pass, where you'll need to take a right. Continuing straight is also a popular hike, especially during peak larch season, where a large loop can be made by combining Lake Ann with Rainy Lake.

Continuing on from Heather Pass the trail will deteriorate somewhat and you'll have to scramble over boulder fields at times. Cairns are usually present in sufficient number to make the route finding mellow. A good map and compass, along with requisite skills, allow you to proceed with confidence here.

The first lake you'll come to is Lewis Lake, where great camping spots can be found if you have chosen to do this trip as an overnight. Continuing on is a sizable climb to gain Wing Lake. This highest lake offers stunning views of the epic east face of Black Peak.

From here you should eyeball your route to gain the col below the south ridge. It's fairly obvious from the lake, but some good landmarks scouted here will help you along your way. Once at the col, it's a scramble up to the top. There is tremendous exposure at times, but if taken carefully, the climbing never exceeds class 3. Keep in mind that whatever you climb, you'll need to downclimb, so be conservative! 

Pack List

Pack list depends on how you whether you'll be camping or day tripping, and the season during which you're visiting.

Images are taken from a late fall single day trip where we took very little - bare minimum layers, food and water. Those coming in the summer may prefer to bring overnight gear to spend the night at Wing Lake. 

There is also a classic rock climb along the NE ridge which would require technical gear, as well as rope and climbing skills.

However you choose to tackle Black Peak, have fun and be safe!

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Erik Turner

Skiier, climber, photographer... addicted to being outside! Feel free to get in touch to mull over PNW adventure plans!

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