Thursday, February 02, 2006

Feb 2nd conditions

General Information:

There is over 180 inches of snow on the ground at Paradise (5,420 feet.) Since December 21st, it has rained or snow almost every day and Paradise has received over 500 inches of snow for the year (which begins on July 1st.) A series of winter storms has dominated the region and is still depositing a great deal of precipitation on the mountain.

There have no reported successful ascents on the upper mountain. All backcountry travelers should expect, and prepare for, fierce and adverse weather and climbing conditions. Conditions may include high winds, heavy precipitation, low visibility, avalanche, difficult route finding and sub freezing temperatures.

General Climbing Conditions:

At this time, we have no new or current information about the climbing routes or the Muir Snowfield. One team attempted to reach Camp Muir on 1-9-05, but snow caved instead on the Muir Snowfield. The weather was so fierce, the team abandoned their gear and navigated through whiteout and heavy snowfall back to Paradise. Another four person team had a similar experience on Jan 15th and 16th; they too were forced to make an emergency sno
wcave (but were able to retrieve their gear.) There was brief clearing on January 23rd and 24th. During that time, a team did stay at Camp Muir and reported that the public shelter was quite accessible.

Muir Snowfield: The trail is 100% snow covered and there is no established boot path due to a significant of snow and rain.

Gibraltar Chute: A team summited via this route on December 17th. A significant amount of ice-debris from the Nisqually Ice Cliff had to be crossed in order to reach the Chute; otherwise, the approach was straightforward. Excellent climbing conditions were found in the Chute itself - firm/icy snow with good crampon-ing allowed for quick progress. Ice coverage in the hourglass near 11,800 feet was thin. The ascent was direct from top of the Gibraltar Rock to the summit was direct. The team descended Gibraltar Ledges and found them to be mostly melted.

On Dec 11th, teams of climbers attempted both the Gibraltar Ledges and Ingraham Direct. Neither summited; both were turned back due to late morning starts, icy conditions, and broken mountaineering terrain that slowed the ascent. At that time, there was a fair amount of snow below 7,000 feet however the upper mountain looked surprisingly thin. As an example, many of the rocks along the Cowlitz Cleaver, Cadaver and Cathedral Gaps are still exposed (this is not the case now.) Both teams reported a fall into thinly veiled crevasses and each party felt they could have made the summit if they had left earlier and allowed more time for circuitous route finding.

At this time, we have no reports for the Disappointment Cleaver route.