Golden Horn and Tower Mountain via Rainy Pass and PCT / 黃金角

  • Reading time:4 mins read

Golden Horn and Tower Mountain are just off the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) north of Rainy Pass. The former is famous for its horn-like summit. At the same time, the latter is the highest point in the area.

Golden Horn and Tower Mountain on exit
Golden Horn and Tower Mountain on exit

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Golden Horn and Tower Mountain at a Glance

Golden Slam = Tower Mountain + Golden Horn
黃金滿貫
= 塔山+黃金角

Access: Pacific Crest Trail North @ Rainy Pass
Round Trip: TBD

Elevation Range: 4880′-8444′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

Hiking the PCT

This week, the yellow pup and I went climbing near Rainy Pass. The trip offered the most relaxing hike to a campsite this year via the excellent PCT. Also, Snowy Lakes between the two peaks have since become one of my favorite camp spots.

All except the last half mile was on a trail. En route to Cutthroat Pass, I talked to a group of PCT workers. Meanwhile, they tried fighting off the swarms of mosquitoes. We then went on our way after a brief chat.

PCT workers
PCT workers

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Cutthroat Pass

Once at the pass, the impact of the recent wildfires was evident. But the visibility to the neighboring valleys was weak. So we couldn’t see much past them either.

Groups of trail runners also made great use of the excellent weather. So they ran their way up to the pass from Cutthroat Lake. I have no idea that this was a hotbed for trail running.

PCT workers
PCT workers

See more trip photos here.

En Route to Granite Pass

The “wow” moment came when the path turned northwest. Right around the trail bend, the colossal figure of Tower Mountain came in view suddenly. Then it took me a moment to understand what I saw.

But I first mistook Tower Mountain for Golden Horn because dense smoke had enveloped the latter. Later we took the trail by a small cairn and went north uphill. But we passed a few hikers before that.

The "wow" moment
The “wow” moment

See more trip photos here.

Tower Mountain Climb

Soon, we reached lower Snowy Lake. But after hearing loud noises from the upper lake, I decided to find a camp spot by the bottom pool. That way, we were closer to Tower Mountain as well.

After setting up the tent, we set off to Tower Mountain. The cool part was seeing my second cave this season before we entered the west gully. My first find was on Bonanza Peak.

Tower Mountain from camp
Tower Mountain from camp

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Tower Mountain Summit Views

We walked past the cave and then went into the rock gully. But I was glad that nothing came down as we continued through the standard route. Soon, we made it up to the top and stayed an hour to enjoy the scenery.

The mountain had lived up to its name with the seven-foot summit cairn. The first ascent party built it back in 1913. By now, the smoke had cleared up quite a bit. So Golden Horn on the other end of the ridge was now visible.

Summit dogs on Tower Mountain
Summit dogs on Tower Mountain

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Golden Horn Climb

The plenty of daylight allowed us to climb Golden Horn today. But the pup and I stopped back at camp first. The route was visible and virtually brush-free as well. But we spent more time going up the sketchy scree gully.

We reached the bottom of the summit tower an hour before sunset. The pup stayed on the platform while I climbed up to the top with a class 4 move. I had brought my rope to rappel off the summit later.

Rock piles
Rock piles

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Golden Horn Summit Views

At twenty feet below was a tired pup. But he’d look up and check on me every few minutes. The beautiful golden hour colors begged me to stay and savor the last light. But coming off the top safely before dark was more critical.

Soon, we made it back down to camp before darkness fell. It seemed like most campers had returned to their tents, if not already asleep.

Good night
Good night

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Outro

The next morning, we awoke to a clear sky with a tint of haze. Then I chatted with four campers from Whidbey Island. They had planned to climb Golden Horn. But then stayed put and enjoyed the scenery. Meanwhile, the pup enjoyed his time in the water.

On the way out, we met our first llamas near Cutthroat Pass. Then we passed the same group of workers as we hiked down the PCT.

Till next time
Till next time

See more trip photos here.

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