Friday, April 21, 2006

Gibraltar Ledges and Ingraham Glacier Direct Route Conditions

Two teams attempted these routes this week.

Tuesday at Camp Muir, two climbers departed in the morning hoping to climb the Ingraham Direct. The pair made it to 13K before turning around. They reported knee deep snow the entire way up the Ingraham Glacier. They also reported several crevasse crossings, most of which went smoothly. They stated that the bridges were in good shape and most were easy to cross. That said, one of the pair did take a crevasse fall at 13K... After a day of kicking steps in deep snow, the pair decided to descend after the crevasse fall.

Gibraltar Ledges was attempted on Wednesday by a soloist (carrying skis). He reported knee deep snow on the Cowlitz Glacier up to the beginning of the ledges. The snow on the Cowlitz was described as powdery, underneath a crust of varying thickness, but "thin" overall.

On the ledges, the climber experienced a lot of soft, sugary snow... Sometimes even waist deep. It took over 2.5 hours to traverse and climb the ledges. After pushing through what you get when you "open a bag of cane sugar," upward progress seemed futile. He turned around at 12,500 feet (about 3/4 of the way up the chute). It took over an hour to descend the ledges, as the footing was still quite challenging.

There is a boot path up the Muir Snowfield. The weather is supposed to be excellent this weekend.

Photo by Mike Gauthier, climber ascending Gib Ledges before the traverse and chute.