Sunday, June 19, 2016

Come Prepared and in the Know...

The weather over the past week here at Mt. Rainier has been more indicative of what we would see in early spring than mid June.  We recently received a substantial amount of new snow at elevations above 8000'.  What this means is the snow pack on the upper mountain is different than what folks normally see in June.  Large drifted pockets of unconsolidated snow create hazardous and tiring conditions for traveling.  We highly encourage climbers to have knowledge of avalanche assessment, as well as dialed partner rescue skills using a transceiver, probe and shovel.

Heavily traveled routes such as the DC and the Emmons are no different than any other routes on the mountain in regards to weather and avalanche hazard.  Just because other climbing parties are ascending with you does not make the route safe.  Use your sense of general mountain awareness and don't climb blindly into hazardous terrain.  If you have a feeling that avalanche danger is higher than what you're comfortable with, or that weather might be moving in sooner than you had thought, we encourage you to descend.  Mt. Rainier will be here for quite a while, and it's not worth risking your life if conditions aren't optimal.

Lastly, when you do climb, think about throwing in a large puffy, rescue tarp, shovel (in addition to a tranceiver and a probe), stove and extra food into your pack.  If the weather turns south and you end up having to spend the night out on the upper mountain, you're chances of survival are largely increased.  Consider laying a track of your ascent on your GPS, so if the weather moves in and visibility decreases, you'll have a detailed descent route to find your way back to camp.

Even though we're moving out of this most recent storm cycle, keep in mind that with the upcoming warm days, avalanche danger will spike prior to snow pack consolidation, and there most likely won't be splitter high pressure like we're used to seeing.

Come prepared so you can come back again!