Governors and Barrier Peaks 

This was yet another trip to the area east of Mount Rainier. The weather looked about as good here as it did anywhere, possibly even a bit better. The reality was that things stayed dry despite the sometime heavy cloud cover. I had approached this area earlier this year by two other approaches: Cayuse Pass to the N. Spire of Governors Peak and Owyhigh Lakes Trail from highway 123 to ski the modest SE slope of Tamanos Mountain. 

The most striking features in the immediate area of Owyhigh Lakes is Governors Ridge. Governors Ridge is a little over a mile long with the first summit of significance, Barrier Peak anchoring the south end. At the north end is The Barrier (6566'). Most intriguing is Governors Needle, possibly unclimbed but it seems unlikely (the needle is briefly discussed but there is no climbing information in the Cascade Alpine Guide). 

I approached from White River Road via the Owyhigh Lakes Trail which reaches Owyhigh Lake in 3.5 miles. The trail is gentle gaining only 1600 feet in that 3.5 miles. Significant snow existed above 5000 feet and there were a few trees across the trail.

Governors Needle and Barrier Peak from Owyhigh Lakes

I reached the lakes in a little over an hour. From here I continued SE via moderate slopes toward the obvious 6200' notch north of Barrier Peak. There appeared to be a cornice at the notch but what remained of it was easily negociated. At the notch I traversed NE on the moderate slope below Governors Needle to climb a major gully system (several variants seem possible). The gully was still snow covered in most places. The rock appears to be loose and I was happy there was snow. I continued up the broadening gully, angling right to gain the ridge crest.    

Barrier Peak and Governors Needle from the route to Governors Peak

Once on the ridge crest, easy scrambling led to the summit where there is a summit register with very few entries yet is still in need of paper.

A Closer Look at Governors Needle from Governors Peak


Tamanos Peak and Owyhigh Lakes from Governors Peak

I descended the ridge and back into the gully where I decided to at least try to reach the notch just north of Governors Needle. After about 200 feet of 45 degree snow, safe progress was hampered by a sketchy moat only a short distance below the notch. From what I saw, the rock does appear to have friable tendencies, as suggested in the guide. I descended and headed back to the notch north of Barrier and started up the ridge toward that summit. 

The ridge was corniced on the right (west) until I reached a minor notch. Here there was a bit of scrambling then a traverse on a slab of snow that had slid from above and into the moat, above this the ridge was broad but steeper than I had expected (to about 45 degrees). This lasted 100-200 feet before the angle eased and the summit hump was reached. I descended perhaps 200 feet on the east shoulder then down moderate snow slopes back to Owyhigh Lakes and down the trail to my car.  A little over six hours round trip.

Governors Peak from Barrier Peak


Mount Rainier Finally makes an Appearance

Cascade Climbers Guide, Volume 1, 2nd Edition; Fred Beckey; Pages 132-133
USGS, Chinook Pass, Wash; 7.5 minute quadrangle; 1987