Thursday, August 31, 2017

Emmons Glacier and Inter Glacier Approach 8/31/17

Late season conditions seem to be the name of the game both above and below camp Schurman as September looms near. Of the few parties attempting to climb the Emmons-Winthrop week, only one was able to navigate to the summit and back. Even then, the team that topped out took nearly 15 hours round trip. All remaining teams turned around before the bergschrund due to loosing their way and not finding a viable route through/around large crevasses.

The route out of camp, up the Corridor and towards the Alpine Meadows continues much the same as it has, albeit with a few more open crevasses to navigate. It appears that the large, traversing crack at 12,400ft. which has held up all season, has finally opened up and is no longer passable. This is forcing climbers to head straight up the mountain around 12,100ft. At this point, the bootpack disappears and footing becomes a bit difficult due to penitentes, sun cups and sastrugi on the surface. Many parties that pushed up, into unfamiliar terrain, neglected to take a tracklog with their GPS and lost their way on the descent. Because of this, at least three teams got off route and had to ascend back up the mountain 1,500-2,000 ft. to get back on track.

This is no longer the time of year to head up the mountain without strong route finding abilities in complex glaciated terrain and a solid grasp up gps/tracklog functions. Without a bootpack, climbers are largely on their own. That being said, one party was able to find their way to the top of the mountain and back so climbers that have the necessary skill sets may still yet find success via the Emmons.

In other news, the Inter Glacier has been effected by snow just the same as the upper mountain and many moderately sized crevasses are continuing to open up along the approach to Camp Schurman. Climbers need to keep their wits as they ascent to the top of the prow and give these features a wide birth. The final climb into camp on the lower Emmons is also heavily crevassed at this point and teams need to rope up between Camp Curtis and Camp Schurman while on the glaciar.

Climbing rangers will be staffing Camp Schurman over the course of the next two weeks to work on some hut improvement projects for the fall. If you find yourself in camp, be sure to say hello and drop off any of that fresh fruit that you know they love!

- Safe Climbing!