Thursday, August 04, 2022

Emmons 8/2


Emmons/Winthrop as viewed from Steamboat Prow

The Emmons/Winthrop route still remains navigable. Crevasse bridges, especially above the Coridoor are weakening and separating.  Previous iterations of bootpacks are visible but some exist on bridges that are not currently viable crossings given the warm weather. Use caution and understand that your party may need to route find while climbing or descending.  The general flavor of the route remains similar to the last Emmons post.  Climbers are still traversing to Liberty Saddle, and crevasses are opening wider along the route.

Travel from Schurman to Emmons Flats and accessing the Corridor is relatively straight forward and no ablated glacier ice is visible yet.

No crevasses are visible on the Inter Glacier, although snow-line is slowly creeping uphill towards the lower nunatak and will most likely be disappearing in the next few weeks if the temperatures remain warm.

Looking up towards the Inter Glacier

2021 vs 2022 Glacier Comparison

2022 brought unseasonably late spring weather with a lot of precipitation. It is amazing how different the mountain looks now compared to this time last year. Here are a few photos to compare how the east side of Camp Muir and the Emmons-Withrop route looked in 2021 vs 2022.

Emmons-Wintrop Route August 3rd 2021

Emmons-Winthrop Route August 3rd 2022

East side of Camp Muir August 3rd 2021

East side of Camp Muir August 3rd 2022

It is easy to see that the Emmons-Winthrop and the Disappointment Cleaver routes are holding up well as we get into August! In recent years by early August, the Emmons-Winthrop route has become very indirect, glacier ice has been present, and there has been increased exposure to crevasses. However, this year things are still hanging in there! The Emmons-Winthrop Route has minimal adjuncts, and it is still fairly straight up the mountain. On the Disappointment Cleaver side in past years, even the access onto the DC has become difficult and exposed to rockfall. Crevasse and route-finding problems on the Ingraham Headwall have contributed to long routes with many ladders and adjuncts through, around, and over serac problems. Overall, this year has had great climbing conditions even though the climbing season started a little later in the year than normal. 

Monday, August 01, 2022

Disappointment Cleaver 7/31

The Disappointment Cleaver is still in good shape, however, warm temperatures are impacting snow stability.  Slushy snow isn't as strong as "coral reef" snow!

Descent Track From 7/31

We are still in the midst of long period of high-pressure, resulting in freezing levels hovering between 15,000 - 17,000ft in elevation for nearly the past two weeks. While this has led to some beautiful days in the mountains with great visibility, it also means that the route is changing rapidly and climbing conditions are quite variable.

Traverse onto the Disappointment Cleaver

The Cleaver is still quite snow-covered for the beginning of August, however snow is melting daily and quickly exposing underlying rock. Late morning and afternoon temperatures have led to unsupportive, often shallow snow. This can make the descent more challenging and easier to snag crampons on unseen rocks. 

Be heads up for other parties above and below you, especially when on the Disappointment Cleaver itself. The initial traverse onto the Cleaver as well as bare patches of rock on the cleaver are greatly susceptible to rockfall from other parties above. 

Cracks opening up above the cleaver

Wands crossing off old route around 13,100 feet

There are a number of route changes in the past week that avoid suspect snow bridges. Many of these are marked with wands to deter climbers from getting sucked into older variations. While these route aids are nice when they are present, climbers are encouraged to analyze their decisions when picking the best route. Don’t blindly follow the path most traveled. Consider options to end-run hollow bridges, take a different path, or if it’s not feeling right head back to camp. The mountain will always be here!

Ladder around 13,100 feet

The handline and ladder pictured above was one of two total on the route on 7/31. There is a multitude of "fixed" pickets on the route. If your party chooses to use these, please check each placement. Rangers do not maintain fixed protection on the routes, and with warm temperatures many of these route adjuncts can melt out providing little protection.