Echo Rock & Observation Rock (Aug 28, 2007)

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echo_observation_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: helmet, ice axe
Map: USGS Mowich Lake
Area: Mt Rainier NP (Mowich Lk)
Reference: Climbing Washington's Mountains (Smoot)
Stats: approx. 16mi, 5387' gain (round trip)

All the pieces finally fell into place to do a trip with Steve, good weather, great destination, a day off work. Steve first suggested Anvil Rock since he's trying to nab as many LO sites as he can set foot on. But, when he suggested Echo and Observation I jumped at it. I had been eyeing that area for a while!

We met on the north and of town at 6:30am and hit the Mowich Lk TH sometime around 8:30am. Steve suggested doing the approach from Knapsack Pass (trail not maintained) since the approach was a few miles shorter. OK I said...I'm all for a loop trip. Wow...I had no idea what I was in for.

On the way up to Knapsack Pass we saw a group of goats heading uphill. One of them reached the scree at the top of the gully and trundled a rock (I don't think he did it on purpose). The basketball sized rock soared downhill. I watched it bounce and go airborne a few times. Only when it stopped did I keep hiking. We hit the pass and had our first views of Mt Rainier.

We continued on toward the east flanks of Mt Pleasant following a pretty distinct trail which was occasionally marked by cairns. Once the trail round the east ridge we got our first views of Spray Park below. Eventually the unofficial trail meets up with the Wonderland and we hiked that up toward Lee Pt (6599 on the map, there is a benchmark there) and continued on to the east toe of the Flett Glacier below Echo and Observation. We donned crampons on the glacier (no rope) and cut across to the south ridge of Echo.

Echo looked pretty daunting from the glacier. We couldn't figure out who there could possibly be a C2/3 route up to the top. Sure enough though, it just goes. The rock is pretty solid and we followed our noses all the way to the top (no register).

Back at the south saddle on the south ridge we picked up some gear that we had stashed and made for Observation. I suggested heading to our left (to the south of Observation) and off we went. There is a bit of a boot path in lunar landscape of pumice that coats the area. We rounded Observation to the south and then followed a path to the top from the easy west side (register placed by Fay Pullen but it is completely full).

The views of Rainier are incredible from both Echo and Observation! I have to admit that in the fog that enveloped us on our decent of Observation (we did not got back via Flett Glacier) we made a pretty stupid navigational error that lost us considerable time correcting. This meant we got back to Spray Park about 8pm and ended up hiking back to Mowich Lk via headlamp (a 2 hour hike). Ouch!

The views of Rainier are incredible from both Echo and Observation!
Echo Rock / Observation Rock Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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