Friday, July 28, 2017

Edmunds Headwall/ Mowich Face Route Conditions

Ptarmigan Ridge, Mowich Face, and the route taken up the Edmunds Headwall
On July 25th, two Climbing Rangers set out on a patrol from Mowich Lake toward the Edmunds Headwall.  The routes on this side of the mountain require a long approach and a high degree of self-sufficiency given their remoteness. Rangers were able to establish a bivy at 9,600 ft in between the North Mowich and Edmunds glaciers near the base of the Edmunds Headwall.  The bergschrund is not passable anymore, but rangers found a way climber's left near a twin gendarme that allowed access to the face.  The bergschrund under the central Mowich face appeared to have a similar bypass through a rock band on climber's left.

The Central Mowich Face from the Edmunds Headwall
 Once on the headwall, rangers found moderately firm neve conditions that allowed for efficient movement.  The entire face is covered in penitente from Sunset Ridge to Ptarmigan ridge.  This textured snow provided ample footholds and nearly eliminated the need for front-pointing.

Ranger Hicks surveying the route
After completing the steepest climbing, and arriving at 13,000 ft atop of the headwall, rangers traveled along upper Sunset Ridge towards Liberty Cap.  Here, they waded through 3 foot tall penitente that made travel arduous.  With ice axes wielded like machetes, they spent considerable time finishing this stretch of the route.

Penitente below Liberty Cap
Climbs on the Mowich Face are exposed to rockfall. Climbing in the morning before the sun hits the face can help mitigate rockfall potential, but this will not eliminate the hazard.  Climb with a helmet and bring ample rescue gear.  Always be prepared for an extra night out on the mountain, and don't be afraid to turn back if climbing conditions are not ideal.  Have fun and enjoy the mountain!    -691