Thursday, August 10, 2017

Emmons-Winthrop Route -- August 10

Emmons-Winthrop route. August 10, 2017.

Summary: Prolonged warm temperatures have led to rapid changes in the Emmons-Winthrop Glacier route.

The Glacier Basin Trail is snow-free until the base of the Inter Glacier around 7000’. The Inter remains fully snow covered with no skeletal glacial ice exposed. Multiple bootpacks and glissade tracks lead past a handful of crevasses en route to Camp Curtis. As always, give these cracks a wide berth and roping up is recommended.

Upper Inter & Emmons Glaciers from Mount Ruth.

From Camp Schurman, the route is in late season conditions. Access to Emmons Flats is criss-crossed with crevasses running in nearly every direction—many of which have thin, cathedral-roof ceilings over very deep and dark chasms. Although many folks camp and travel unroped in this area during the early season, travel currently requires a full suite of glacier travel skills and experience doing complex glacier navigation. Camping at Emmons Flats is not recommended in its current condition.
Camp Schurman and Emmons Flats. August 10, 2017.

The numerous crevasses that we have been tracking all season above the Corridor have begun to open in earnest. Although there is a pronounced bootpack up this stretch (from 11,800’ to 13,000’), it often leads to dead-end crevasse crossings spanning 40 feet or more! Any teams attempting this route in it’s dwindling days should expect to do all of their own navigation above Camp Schurman. Warm temperatures and thin snowbridges have also led to multiple over-head crevasse falls in recent weeks. Conservative route selection and diligence managing rope tension can help reduce the depth and severity of crevasse falls.

Overall, the Emmons-Winthrop has seen better days. Although it is still passable, most climbers will find it more enjoyable next season.