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Van Trump Park

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by Grant on 1/23/22 2:45pm

Finally got a chance to explore Van Trump Park on a blue bird day. We approached van trump up via the summer route/comet falls, which was a mistake. Steep side-hill skinning over the creek with one or two no fall zones. Some sections were dust on crust and we ended up booting the steepest bits. Creek crossing on the upper van trump creek near comet falls was casual, but snow bridges may not last with additional warming. The forest was snowfall crude, but soft which was a relief. Getting up onto the Van Trump basin was spectacular. Very interesting scenery with the steep rocky ridge to our northeast, pyramid peak to the west, and endless bowls and glaciers. The snow started softening and we got some just beginning to turn to corn dropping at 7,500ft at 2pm. The sun and approach worked us, so we did not go much higher (although it would be great). Instead of taking our approach back down, we talked to the only other group up there about their alternative ascent. It seemed much easier, so we backtracked their up route and crossed the upper van trump creek to get to the east side of it, did a brief very steep (no fall zone) side hill above the creek to get to a flatter plateau which we traveled on before dropping a chute down a bit northeast of the Christine Falls bridge.

You may find some general gpx lines on caltopo that pretty much follows the Van Trump Creek Basin. I would not follow them, like we did initially! It will be steep, crappy, and slow.

Has anyone started climbing on the west side of the Christine Falls bridge? Like they say in the Volken Guide.

Felt worked on the approach and sun and would love to go back to get higher. The lighter skis also got chattery on the runnels and tree fall. However, beautiful day, beautiful area, on an adventurey ski, remote from others.

CalTopo GPX: https://caltopo.com/m/5D94E

Skinning up


Fresh corn turns




Pyramid peak and runnels




Thanks for the report and photos; rekindled lots of old memories!  I agree about the hazards of the Comet Falls trail in winter; this is the most dangerous forest trail on this side of the mountain, IMO, with a long list of past SARs and still a few 'never founds'

I don't have the Volken Guide, but old guidebooks used to show a route to upper Rampart Ridge starting on the south side of lower Van Trump Ck, near the Comet Falls trailhead. With a deep base to cover the brush & large down trees, one can gain the ridge just below treeline in half a dozen big switchbacks between the Rampart cliffs and the gorge below Comet Falls.  I recall the final giant drift below the ridge top being a pain to surmount.  It's necessary to traverse, then drop across the creek above Comet Falls to continue into Van Trump Park, which makes this an inconvenient descent route. I remember doing this route from Longmire on a closed day long ago.  The last trees below Mildred Point would make a nice campsite, but following the Rampart Ridge Trail from Longmire would probably be easier.

In the 70's, the park experimented with not plowing the Comet Falls trailhead, but found that people just shoveled their own spot or took over the roadside viewpoints just up the road.  The large Glacier Bridge parking area was left unplowed in those days to discourage attempts to reach the Nisqually Ice Cave, considerd an attractive nuisance.  I think Glacier Bridge is still not approved for overnight parking.

Your photo captioned 'Runnels' shows the crossover (upper left skyline) from the Dream Bowl route:


Glad you enjoyed the trip report Gary! And thank you for the info. I'll have to try your directions next time we are up there. It seems similar to the guide book and hopefully avoids steep side hilling? It is such a cool area and feels very remote compared to the popularity of Muir. We originally planned to camp up there to get higher, but glad we didnt because we would have had to wait a long time for the snow to soften!

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2022-01-23 22:45:02