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Washington State
Mountaineering


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The state of Washington is graced by majestic mountain ranges, including the Cascades, the Olympics and the Coast Range.  The volcanoes of the Cascades have always been popular mountains to climb, as they offer colossal vistas of the beautiful northwest landscape, are often close to metropolitan communites, and usually have at least one relatively easy route to the top.  In addition, although the highest peak in the Cascades, Mt. Rainier, tops out at "only" just over 14,410 feet, and many of the major volcanoes measure barely 10,000 feet, the surrounding valleys are just barely at sea level, making the mountain tower over the surrounding areas.  The vertical gains are equivalent to most of the major peaks worldwide, as the starting elevation for most peaks varies from 2,700 feet for Mt. St. Helens (winter ascents) to 6,000 feet (Mt. Adams), making most of the elevation gains from 5,000 to 9,000 feet.  To compare, Mt. Everest rises "only" 11,000 feet from base camp, while Pikes Peak, the greatest elevation gain of any Colorado "14er" rises only 4,200 feet from the trailhead.  In the cascades, even the lowly Mt. St. Helens (8,365 feet) rises 5,665 feet from it's Marble Mountain trailhead.

The Olympic Mountains lie in the far northwest corner of Washington state, taking more rainfall than anywhere in the continental U.S.  Here, in Olympic National Park, exists the only temperate rain forest in the lower 48.  The jagged peaks of the Olympics paint a majestic backdrop for the state's major metropolitan area, Seattle, and the surrounding communities.  Here, Mt. Olympus is king, rising 7,945 feet high, with the demanding summit climb including a grueling 18-mile approach hike through the Hoh Rain Forest, followed by a 8-mile summit attempt, for a round-trip total of 52 miles, gaining 7,345 feet from the trailhead elevation of 600 feet, 6,500 of it in the final eleven miles of the ascent. 

For more information on Mountaineering in Washington State, visit the Mountaineers climbing organization or Climbing Washington, a website dedicated to the subject. 

To read about our summits of peaks in Washington State, click on the links at left.  Each site includes a trip report, a photo gallery, and information about the route climbed, with links to other relevant information on the climb.


 

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