Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Way too long, lots of climbing

All is good on Mount Rainier these days (despite my inability to update this blog!) Climbers have been scaling up and down the mountain by a variety of different routes over the past two weeks. One of the most impressive ascents was by a team of climbers who pushed their way up Ptarmigan Ridge after a long march.

The May 5th opening went by without issue. Yeah, the parking lot filled and U.S. Rep Norm Dicks and U.S Rep Dave Reichart showed up to help swing the gate (TNT). But most folks seemed more focused on getting to the mountain... which brings us to the important topic at hand, what's been going on above 6K on Mt Rainier?

Recently, there has been a lot of skiing, boarding and climbing. Here is a pretty awesome shot by Rainier ski-fan Sky Sjue... These images are from his recent descent down the Fuhrer Thumb with climbing/ski partner Christophe. I think, btw, that this is a first ski descent of the Fuhrer Thumb. I bet Lowell Skoog will be interested. Anyway, the Fuhrer's Thumb is the "climber's left" variation on the Fuhrer Finger route, OR "climber's right" of the Wilson Headwall, i.e. STEEP!

There is quite a bit of snow to carve between 5K-10K for the skier/boarder. Keep in mind that the recent weather has been great which means that the snow is melting fast! More than snowmelt, however, make sure you consider the avalanche conditions if you're headed out into the backcountry. You should personally check the snow conditions and snowpack before jumping into anything hairy. There have been numerous reports of slide activity between 5K-11K on 30-45 degree slopes. Of course, bring your avalanche equipment (beacon, shovel, probe, etc) and reliable partners.

Not to be outdone, the climbers have been having a great time on Mt. Rainier too. Our Updated Route Conditions page is getting filled with all sorts of cool reports... So far, folks have successfully ascended Liberty Ridge, the Ingraham Glacier, Gibralter Ledges, Emmons Glacier, the Tahoma Glacier (more on those two later) and a few other lines to boot. As stated, we have a FANTASTIC report about Ptarmigan Ridge!