|Little Tahoma from the Corridor on 8/5|
The Emmons-Winthrop route is beginning to change as warm weather wilts away the snow bridges spanning crevasses climbers have been crossing since May. The trail/trough is still well defined from Camp Schurman all the way to the summit. However, in a few places that trail is not the easiest way to the top. Rangers at Schurman explored new route options on Saturday. Some variations were purely to make the cramponing easier, and other variations cross crevasses in better spots.
Climbing on this side of the mountain puts more responsibility on the climber as there are no wands, ladders, or other work done on the route by guide services. It's up to you to make route finding decisions on the climb when the old trail is no longer the best route.
The track below shows the trail (red) and some new variations taken by climbing rangers on 8/5/17 (blue). Right out of Camp Schurman, climbers can avoid almost all the large crevasses at the Emmons Flatts by kicking out climbers right (rejoining the trail at about 9,850 ft.)
|Red: old trail from June still being followed. Blue: variations taken by rangers on 8/5 (bold contour lines 200 ft apart)|
If leaving the trail here, ascend until you reach about 12,300 ft in elevation, then traverse hard right (neither gaining nor loosing elevation) about 200 yards until you reach the main trail. You will intersect the main trail right where it crosses the big crevasse at 12, 300 ft. On this variation, you will have to negotiate some smaller penitente once you leave the trough. Pay careful attention on the way up if you plan on taking this variation on the descent as well.
|Looking uphill at the variation from 11,900 ft to 12,300 ft. Switchback straight up, then traverse hard right at 12,300 ft|
|Ranger Hasebe descending the plug at 12,300 ft|
Key Points: The well worn trail out of Camp Schurman is still a viable climbing route. Better variations do exist, but they require more decision making. Jumping over large crevasses is dangerous, and you should find a different way across if you think you need to jump. Start early to avoid being in the hot sun for many hours. Climb safely, make conservative decisions, and have fun. -691