Sunday, April 22, 2007

Summit, Camp Muir, Guiding, Bureaucracy

Two separate teams reached the summit of Mount Rainier last week! Such a feat wouldn't normally make blog headlines but with the park closed, it's fun to hear about anyone who gets anywhere near Columbia Crest. The details? Two men ascended the Emmons Glacier, and a RMI guided team climbed the Disappointment Cleaver. There are more photos and descriptions of the Glacier Basin Trail too (and it's not "that" bad).

Helicopters ferried loads to and from Camp Muir last Friday. The primary push is to support the new mountaineering guided concessions as they prepare for the summer. Those familiar with Camp Muir will note a change in who operates out of what buildings. The client shelter (eastern 2/3 of the big rectangle building in the lower right photo) will house RMI. The Gombu (west 1/3 of the same building, different entrance) will be shared by AAI and IMG on alternating nights. The NPS will move out of the Butler Shelter and into the Cook Shack (rock hut in the lower left). RMI will gain use of the Butler Shelter as a storage and cooking facility. All three of the guide services will have access to an independent weatherport on the Cowlitz Glacier.

There are a lot of changes with regard to guided operations on the mountain. Here are a few key elements:
  • Along the Camp Muir corridor, RMI can lead 24 clients and guides per night. AAI and IMG are allowed 12. This is an overall reduction of 11 "guided related climbers" per night when compared to previous years.
  • On the Emmons Glacier, each guide service can lead one trip per week, for a total of 120 clients and guides per year. There is no commercial guiding allowed on Friday and Saturday night.
  • The same is true for the Kautz Glacier route, only each guide service is limited to 80 clients and guides total per year.
  • There is NO commercial guiding from Success Cleaver west and north to Ptarmigan Ridge.
  • Independent climbers will note a reduced number of guides and clients on the Muir routes during the summer. They will note a mid week increase of clients and guides on the Emmons Glacier route. Almost all of the western half of the mountain is closed to commercial activity, so there's plenty of room to stretch out.

On a completely unrelated note, you can download an electronic version of the Climbing Registration Card. If you want to save a little time in the ranger station, fill the Climbing Registration Card out completely ahead of time and bring it with you when you come to register.