Monday, June 13, 2022

Avalanche Activity on the Emmons-Winthrop Route

Recent snow and wind has caused a significant avalanche cycle on the Emmons-Winthrop Route. This activity confirms that the upper mountain is retaining its winter character. Large crowns are visible from miles away, and the resultant slides are somewhere in the D3 size range. One slide put debris well below the elevation of Camp Schurman on the Winthrop Glacier. 

Photo taken from Camp Schurman on 6/11. Avalanche crowns are highlighted in red. 

Trying to forecast for snow stability in terrain as big and remote as the upper mountain of Mount Rainier is extremely difficult - due to hard-to-measure variables and loads of uncertainty. Traditionally climbers wait until warm spring temperatures stabilize the snow to avoid exposure to avalanches. Spring has yet to happen on Mount Rainier and the uncertainty of the winter snowpack remains. 

Photo taken 6/13 from Camp Schurman. Avalanche Crowns highlighted in red. 

Those attempting to climb Rainier in the near future will need to come prepared to do their own snow stability assessments and be open to the idea of turning around if conditions aren't right. Those who are looking for a more traditional summer ascent of the mountain will have to continue to wait for warmer temperatures. When spring does finally arrive and the snow stabilizes, we could have some amazing conditions for climbing and skiing Mount Rainier.