Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Emmons Winthrop July 18, 2017

Mt Rainier's crater as seen from Register Rock

Bottom Line: The Emmons Winthrop has quickly progressed to late-season conditions. Large crevasses have continued to open on the route and snow surface conditions are firm and rough. Cautious climbing and keeping to a time plan are highly advised.

The long and hot summer days have left their mark on Mt Rainier and the Emmons Winthrop route is no exception. Several large crevasses have opened quickly at all elevations.

The glacier from Camp Curtis to Camp Schurman is becoming pock marked with rock fall from Steamboat Prow. Do not linger in this area. We are also still observing many parties travelling unroped in this area. The route crosses several snow bridges and the hazard here should not be under estimated.

We have also observed a lot of unroped travel between Schurman and Emmons Flats. This area is currently breaking up with large 'cathedral-ceiling' type crevasses. Those can appear to be thin at the glacier surface but open into large caverns below. Please travel on a rope team in this area.

The Corridor is climbing fine but the bulk of the traffic has been concentrated in a large trough that can be difficult to climb when frozen. Above the Corridor there are several large crevasses that must be crossed on ever thinning bridges. The 12,400' crevasse that has been discussed in previous posts is still bridged by a small plug of ice and snow but when (not if) that falls out the route will require a major change. The path over this obstacle has been shifted nearly every day so do not assume that the existence of footprints indicates a safe passage. Consider belaying your teammates. It might take extra time but it may also prevent a crevasse fall from becoming a major injury.

Above 12,500' to the summit the sastrugi from early season has melted into a firm and rough surface. Climbing out of the trail is very difficult and skiing down safely is not truly possible. This was, unfortunately, made clear July 17th when a skier fell to his death on the route.

Please climb safely, know your limits and don't be afraid to make the conservative call to turn around early if things aren't working in your favor.