Trip Guides

Washington State Hiking and Mountaineering Challenges

March 7, 2019

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for challenges. A list of peaks to bag? I’m in! A list of hikes to complete? When do I start? I love the accountability of a challenge and the feeling of accomplishment when you can mark it as complete.

If you’re bored of the same old hikes or looking to complete a grand challenge, check out the following 9 Washington State peak lists to get some fun motivation for the upcoming year. Many Washington State peakbagging lists are very alpine oriented and require a mix of mountaineering and scrambling skills, but there are several challenges that are great for hikers. Not up for peaks? There are alpine lake lists too!

If you join the Mountaineers or are already a member, they offer patches and pins for the following lists marked with an asterisk (*). Check out your nearest Mountaineers chapter for more information.

On the summit of Miller Peak in the Teanaway in 2012 with my

On the summit of Miller Peak in the Teanaway in 2014 with my best adventure buddy Jake Dog. We participated in a fun peakbagging challenge in the Cle Elum Ranger District that took us to a lot of peaks we wouldn’t normally have visited.

Peakbagging Lists

Everett Lookout Peaks*
These high lookout peaks are located north of I-90 all the way to the Canadian border (one in the Olympics) and make for a fine hiking challenge with some amazing views! The Mountaineers maintain several of the lookouts in this challenge and a pin for completing 12 of the destinations is offered by the Everett branch of the Mountaineers.

Olympia Lookout Hiking Peaks*
This list is sponsored by the Olympia chapter of the Mountaineers and hiking 12 of the 20 destinations on the list qualify you for their award. Most hikes are scattered around the Olympic Peninsula, Mount Rainier and the South Cascades with Heybrook Ridge being north around Stevens Pass.

Tahoma Peaks*
If you love the Mount Rainier area, this 32-peak challenge is the one for you! Earning the Mountaineers pin is somewhat complex though, as you must climb at least 3 peaks in any of the 4 groups for the first pin, then 3 peaks in all 8 groups for the second. All summits are in the southern foothills of Mount Rainier, considered slightly more experienced, and can involve a bit of alpine scrambling.

The Teanaway Twenty*
The Teanaway is located east of Cle Elum and is a fantastic area for exploration. Trails criss cross everywhere and weather is notoriously sunny in spring and fall, making it a great shoulder season destination. The Teanaway Twenty is comprised of two lists: the first ten and second ten. Complete one or both! Some peaks may require some light scrambling.

Harvey Manning Peak Challenge
This lesser known challenge on the I-90 corridor is a great one for anyone living in the Seattle or surrounding area and pays homage to the great Harvey Manning, a well known conservationist, hiking advocate and guidebook writer. It requires a bit of light scrambling, but is a fantastic next step for seasoned hikers.

Mountaineering Peak Lists

Want to go bigger and have scrambling and/or mountaineering and alpine experience? Check out the following four challenges.

Snoqualmie Peaks*
This 20 peak list is broken into two sets of 10 and the Mountaineers Seattle branch offers pins for completion of both. All destinations are in the Snoqualmie Pass area and require solid scrambling skills.

Alpine Lakes Home Court 100
A list of 100 with at least 500′ of prominence mostly located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness between I-90 and US2. This one will keep you busy for a while and contains a good mix of hiking and advanced scrambling skills. I think most experienced hikers could complete this list without having big mountaineering skills. Even I’m surprised at how many of these I’ve knocked off over the years.

Baker’s Dozen*
The Bellingham branch of the Mountaineers sponsors this challenge, which is reserved for serious mountaineers only. All peaks are near Mount Baker and completing any 13 on this list will earn you an award. Most summits require crossing glaciers or steep snowfields, substantial bushwhacking, and expert skills. Know your ability before signing up for this one!

Bulger List
Pretty much considered the ultimate Washington State challenge, the Bulgers were a very informal group of climbers who set out to climb the 100 highest peaks in Washington State. This list has achieved a certain legitimacy among Cascade climbers and is a typical way to knock off the Washington Top 100. The list was first completed in 1980 and in late 2014 a 27-yr old woman, Linsey Warren, became the youngest person to complete the list. At the time she was only the 49th person to fully complete the challenge. Most people take several years to finish the list.

Last year I attended a presentation at Second Ascent by Minnesota-native turned PNW local Tim Halder about his experience completing the Bulger List. It was such a fun and entertaining evening and his pictures and stories were simply incredible.  What an amazing challenge!

So there you have it. If you’re looking for some new challenges this season, pick a list and go for it and drop me a line to let me know you’re doing it, I love hearing about list completions. If peaks aren’t your thing, check out the following alpine lakes lists.

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