Mt. Rainier - Ptarmigan RidgeDate:
On June 26, Pete Hirst, Eric Wehrly and I climbed and skied a variation of the Ptarmigan Ridge route on Mt. Rainier.
We approached via the Mowich Lake road the day before, there were some navigation difficulties due to variable snow cover and thick marine clouds.
The lower portion of the route held variable crusty snow and led to a traverse of a mixed ice/snow shelf. We traversed the shelf to an very exposed ice step, (Pete thought it was alpine ice 3+). We free soloed the step to gain Liberty Cap glacier, and made haste to clear a zone that posed a hazard of serac fall. We roped up and weaved our way up the heavily broken glacier, crossing several dicey snow bridges, one of which we belayed, protecting with a ski anchor. High and mid level clouds had rolled in and blocked the sun (the day had been forecasted to be sunny), we topped out on liberty cap chilled and worked.
Ski conditions on the upper portion of the route were as to be expected for the raindawg -- variable ice/powder/crusts, the highlight being a section of steep powder midway down the tongue of the Liberty Cap glacier.
On the way up Pete had installed a v-thread at the top of the ice step, and we backed it up with a screw then rapped the ice step. After traversing the mixed ice/snow shelf - we clicked into ski is. I had some doubt that the steep lower slope would not soften since the clouds had blocked the sun and FR levels were only forecasted to hover around 10k... But the lower slope was good enough, definitely on the firm side for the top half, then softening nicely lower down.
We were stoked, but a little dehydrated, and drank like fish when we found a seep on our way back to camp.
E MONEY back in the hood.
Emoney ready to rap, Pete starting traverse