Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The skiers are taking over!

New snow and warm temperatures this final weekend in June brought out the most skiers I have ever seen on Rainier. The DC, Emmons, Winthrop, and Fuhrer Finger were all skied. The ski conditions were great for the most part. The snow was firm but somewhat punchy down to 13,000 feet. Conditions improved as the snow softened and became less wind- affected. There was good corn skiing from about 11,500' to about 10,000'. The snow became heavy and wet below that altitude. Above is a photo of one of those skiers descending the Cleaver. Although the skiing can be fabulous, be realistic about conditions and your ability, and be sure to be "on your game", as exposure to cliffs below can severely impact your outing in the event of an uncontrolled slip!

Conditions and weather have combined this week to give us stable weather and great climbing. Climbers summitted via the Disappointment Cleaver, Ingraham Direct, Fuhrer Finger, Kautz Glacier, Tahoma Glacier, Liberty Ridge, Winthrop Glacier, and the Emmons Glacier. Of course, the warm weather has its downside: rock fall and ice fall have increased exponentially, and a few routes have started to melt out... notably Gibralter Ledges, which had seen quite a few ascents this year.
--Adrienne Sherred - Photo by Andy Anderson

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Little new to report...

Updated conditions are posted, but other than hearing "we made the summit via ?X?X? route," most things seem to be straightforward.

I've been getting a number of climbing reports, with most climbers commenting on the weather conditions they experienced. Although we appreciate this, it is even more useful for prospective climbers to receive comments on snow/ice conditions and crevasse situations, since these don't generally change quite as fast as the weather! For the most part, it seems that many of the standard routes are in fine climbing shape. As always, weather and conditioning are key factors in whether you summit or not.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mt Rainier Route Conditions - June

The weather turned nice last weekend and climbers wasted no time in snatching up this opportunity. Routes that melted out earlier this spring are back in shape and looking great! Climbers had successful ascents on:

Liberty Ridge, Ingraham Direct, Disappointment Cleaver, Emmons Glacier,
Kautz Glacier, Fuhrer Finger, Gibraltar Ledges and Gib Chute to name a few.

The climbing conditions are great. In the colder part of the day the snow is firm and supportive making for excellent cramponing. By mid- morning it has been soft enough to make the trip down a little less jarring. From everything I saw up there this weekend and from all the reports that we heard most of the routes are very straight forward and direct. Obviously there are a few route finding challenges, but that's what makes it fun, right?

Skiers were making us all jealous up there as well. I saw quite a few people taking advantage of the softer mid-morning and early afternoon snow. Several intrepid skiers and boarders made turns down the Ingraham. Those big sweeping turns sure are fun but that speed has the downside of letting things like crevasses and ice cliffs sneak up on you really fast. So remember to scout out your ski routes before you start ripping down the hill. A great way to do this is to climb up what you plan to ski down.

~ Andy Anderson and Mike Gauthier

Paradise Construction and Parking

Here is a quick note on trail access. Due to the construction the normal access to the Paradise trail is blocked off. The best place to start your hike to Muir or anywhere else on this side of the Mountain is from the west end of the parking lot at the Jackson Visitor Center on the Dead Horse Creek Trail. It links up with the normal Skyline trail in about 1 mile and will save the hassle of walking around the construction fencing.

As a reminder, if you plan to depart from Paradise while climbing this summer, arrive before 9 a.m. The Paradise construction project has displaced most of the overnight parking. Once the Paradise picnic area melts out, ALL overnight parking should take place there. Immediate parking spaces at Paradise will be very limited. If you show up late, you could end up parking along the Paradise Valley Road. Depending on how far, you may need to take the shuttle.

This image of a climber on the Nisqually Cleaver is by Erik Jacobson

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Fewer climbers?

As noted earlier, there has been a downward trend in the number of climbers attempting Mt Rainier's summit. From October 1st, 2005 to June 1st 2006, there were 871 registered climbers (and that included RMI stats.) During the same period the preceding year, there were 945, and that DID NOT include RMI stats.

There has also been an increase in reservations. Be advised that most of the Friday and Saturday night reservations have been taken for this season. If you want to climb a primary route, try climbing between Sunday and Wednesday.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Skiing Mount Rainier

There is nothing totally new about skiing Mt. Rainier. Sure, it's not done that often, but people do ski and ride it... However, skiing the Wilson Headwall is something special. The recent snowfall is settling nicely in some areas. Climbers-turned-skiers (or are they skiers-turned-climbers?) are making their moves on Rainier's slopes. Ski, board, and snowpack reports are welcome!

As for the internet... this blogger site has its down days... But that's ok, because it's easier to express frustration at an internet site, than say, well... we'll just move on...

A few "climbing instigators" have been sending GREAT route conditions information. I've been trying to dump most of it directly into the blog. But as the amount of information grows, I wonder if it would be easier to have a bullentin board?

Please send me your thoughts? I'm very pleased that you are willing to share their experiences! Everyone REALLY appreciates it!

Image by Sky Sjue, just before he drops down the Wilson Headwall...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Camp Muir and Paradise

The mountain theme last weekend was snow... and lots of it. Here is an image of Little Tahoma taken by Joe Puryear on Saturday at Camp Muir when the weather cleared. The photo below, however, better represents the weather conditions.

A few teams took a stab at the Disappointment Cleaver, but all turned back over avalanche concerns. The lower portion of the cleaver has a history avalanche, and there were plenty of unique layers in the snowpack to draw some concern from both guides and climbing rangers. Over the past few weeks, the mountain has received at least a two feet of new snow. In many places, there is more due to wind transport. Joe will post some route images and conditions tomorrow.

One quick tip: the Muir Snowfield is in EXCELLENT shape for skiing/boarding, especially now that the wet weather has backed off for a few days.


This weekend, some climbers experienced a few issues regarding construction at Paradise. Most of the upper parking lot is fenced off, which greatly limits the number of parking spaces. On Saturday and Sunday, the parking lots filled REALLY early. We strongly suggest that you arrive early if you want to find parking close the Jackson Visitor Center.

When the Paradise Picnic area melts out, all people planning to park overnight will need to park there. We'll provide more information on the Paradise situation when we have some maps and more to share. Stay tuned...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Liberty Ridge and Blogger...

The "Blogger" software is giving me grief today... I'll do an update when possible, but it seems that site has been down most of the morning...

I was able to slip in some info on Liberty Ridge. The image is from Chris Nunzir, his team was on the route for a number days during a storm, but did get one nice sunrise.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Mt Rainier Route Photos

The heavy snowfall from last week slowed a number of teams, many have not made the summit. Since we're lite on route conditions, I'll share these recent climbing route photos. Here is the Nisqually Cleaver taken on May 30th.

There are a number of climbers at Camp Muir this weekend, none have reported successful ascents. One Seattle party spent 15 hours pushing the route in from Camp Schurman, while another team summited on Liberty Ridge Thursday/Friday. The "Liberty" team took quite a bit of extra time and had to spend at least one night on top... They radioed from Camp Schurman on Saturday to report that one member had 7 digits with frostbite! We remind climbers not to underestimate how physically difficult it is to climb Liberty Ridge.

Photo by Mike Gauthier