Like the previous post stated, it's fully summer. Still. The sun has been out consistently during normal daylight hours and the stars have been seen most of the other time. The cloudy marine layer that covered the Puget Sound area most mornings never even made it close to the park boundary. Summertime and the living is easy!
Saturday Morning, Camp Schurman
The scene up here on Rainier the past couple of weeks has been really busy with climbers making many successful ascents of many routes. The Emmons and the DC are still both in great shape. The Emmons is currently the more direct route of the two, offering stellar glacier climbing from Schurman to the summit. Many people have also been climbing the Kautz, encountering moderate and fun conditions in the ice chutes and moderate glacier travel above. We've even gotten a few reports in from climbers who have made recent ascents of the Tahoma, Sunset Ridge, Ptarmigan Ridge and Mowich Face. The approaches on these more remote west side routes are a bit long and involve more encounters with scree and talus this time of year, but the climbing conditions above 9,000' remain great.
Sunset Ridge, photo by Paul Cook
The past couple of weeks we have seen what appears to be an increase in the number of climbing parties having mishaps and/or full on accidents. We as the climbing rangers just want to remind everyone to stay vigilant, know and respect their abilities, stay aware of current conditions, and be ready and prepared to deal with whatever emergency may arise on your own. Help is definitely out there for people if it is needed, but that help might be a long way off which means self rescue is always required to some level.
Optimal route condition and great weather systems are starting to line up with one another. Longer trail approaches on the West Side of the mountain are melting out which facilitates access to some rarely climbed gems. The freezing level has been hovering between 12,000 feet to 14,000 feet making for comfortable climbs. Mid-July has historically been the busiest time up high on the mountain - and for good reason.
Crevasses are starting to open wider, and as the summer wears on, the routes that navigate along glaciers become more circuitous. Longer summit climbs aren't necessarily the worst thing, but they can put climbers crossing bridges and overhangs during the warmest part of the day.
Notable events in the last week include a posse of "mono-skiers" on the Muir Snowfield, the opening of the new Carbon River Ranger Station in the often overlooked northwestern part of the park, and black bears starting to make their way into the alpine meadows. Come on up and enjoy prime-time at the park!
Lots of sun and blue sky up here on Rainier are adding to our celebration of America's 237th year of existence. The forecast for the holiday weekend looks great, and conditions should be great for summit bids. We are expecting a very busy weekend so climbers should show up early at the ranger station to improve chances of getting their preferred camping spot. The popular camps such as Muir, Schurman and Ingraham Flats will be busy places. Climbers are encouraged to have a backup plan since there are many places on Rainier that will not be crowded at all. Looking for moderate routes? Try the Tahoma, the Kautz, the Success Cleaver or Couloirs, or the Wilson Headwall just to suggest just a few. Skiing conditions still seem to be holding strong but some booting is required from most trailheads these days. Check out recent route reports from the DC, The Tahoma Glacier and Ptarmigan Ridge among others.
On this fourth of July remember that you have the freedom to bring celebration items such as watermelon, spareribs, and refreshing drinks into your national park. You even have the freedom to share your goodies with rangers or other people you meet. You do not have the freedom to bring fireworks, explosives, or share your edible goodies with any non-human species such as foxes or marmots.
Come on out and enjoy the natural wonders this country has to offer.