Ascent of Second Burroughs Mountain on 2016-08-01

Climber: Joseph Esparza

Date:Monday, August 1, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Second Burroughs Mountain
    Elevation:7402 ft / 2256 m

Ascent Trip Report

On this great planet of our's, there are some places which the Creator has deigned to be particularly visually stunning, brilliantly exquisite, and frighteningly beautiful; and then there is Mount Rainier National Park. It shares a league of natural majesty, pure sublimity, and unfettered glory with few others. Magnificent in every meaning of the word, the national park, and its 14,411' namesake summit are the crown of the Pacific Northwest, and ultimately a bright glittering jewel in the larger crown of the world's natural wonders.

While attaining the summit of Mount Rainier requires technical skills I, and the average hiker does not posses, a visit to the park is a worthy addition to any nature lover's life list. Many smaller, non-technical peaks jut up against the ice-clad giant, the tallest of which is Burroughs Mountain, or as locally called "Third Burroughs". The culmination of a series of smaller peaks also names Burrough's, principally First and Second, Burrough's Mountain proper, at 7,828', is just over half the height of Mount Rainier, yet the summit and its beholden views make it an admirable endeavor in itself. There is no trek I have done to date that even nears the unique spires of nobility found in this simple trip.
Category: Strenuous
Miles: 9.5
Elevation Gain: 2,500'
Location: Mount Rainier National Park, Mount Rainier Wilderness
Directions: HERE
Season: July-September

The Trail: From the Sunrise Visitor Center, follow the signs up the Sourdough Ridge Trail towards Frozen Lake. The route gains elevation quickly as it ascends from the parking lot through lush meadows dotted by sub-alpine fir, and ringed by rocky peaks immediately above. Be sure to where sungasses on this trip, as the glaciers on the mountain reflects an enormous amount of the sun's rays.
Keep a sharp lookout for Mountain Goats feeding on the grasses and mosses alongside the trail. Following signage to Frozen Lake, the route passes by some excellent viewpoints extending over one hundred miles into North Cascades National Park, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker and Vancouver, Canada. Ahead looms the ice-clad, colossus eminence, Mount Rainier, sheathed by the largest glacier in the contiguous United States, the Emmons Glacier. Highest in the Northwest, Cascades, and the state of Washington, the superlatives of grandeur continue to nearly no end. Taking in such a view requires an appropriate moment of pause. Upon arriving at the Frozen Lake saddle, now completely above tree-line a mile and a half from the trailhead, follow the signage towards Burrough's Mountain. As the trail ascends, there is a crampon-ice axe warning sign, both of which may be needed in early season. Burrough's Mountain is actually a large ridge hosting three separate peaks, First Burrough's Mountain, the more scenic Second Burrough's Mountain, and finally the highest of the three 7,828' "Third" or simply "Burrough's Mountain". This trip ascends all three.
On First Burrough's there is a trail split, which may be used to complete this hike as a loop trip on the return. From here, the trail descends about 100', before ascending 300' through some snow and ice to the summit of Second Burrough's Mountain. On the top, there is a uncommon stone bench, which offers a fantastic view of the Emmons Glacier, the steep arete of Little Tahoma, and of course 14,411' Mount Rainer itself. It is here that the ordinary hiker will stop, however the finest part of the trip is yet to come. Directly across you is Third Burrough's Mountain, however reaching it requires descending about 500', and then gaining over 800' on a steep climber's path through snow-fields; and of course regaining that on the return.

From the saddle between Second and Third Burrough's, the use-trail climb's abruptly upon south-face of the mountain before passing 300' through some permanent ice-fields. Hiking poles are strongly recommended. Once up top of Thrid Burrough's, the panorama is simply dazzling. The entire northern and eastern sections of the park are visible as is the Seattle-Tacoma metro-area, and of course, the glacial moraines, massive glaciers, and crowning all Mount Rainier itself. After enjoying the vistas on summit, return the way you came, with all of its returning gain.

Hiked 8/9/2016. Pierce County, WA
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles

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