Trip: Mount Rainier - Emmons/Winthrop varriant

Date: 8/25/2014

Trip Report:
Mount Rainier, 3 days with night on summit.

I have had a dream of not just climbing to the summit of Mount Rainier, but to spend the night on/near the summit, allowing time to experience and explore a few of the summit features. I have had a number of 14,000 foot climbs with minutes spent at the top, but enjoyed climbs more when I had the time to linger.

On Monday August 25th the adventure began when Russ Hall, along with Travis Nelson, picked me up at SeaTac airport. We drove over to the White River Ranger station to register the climb, and started up the mountain at 2:00PM. Under sunny skies, we made our way up the White River basin, climbed up the icy inter-glacier and made camp Curtis, set up camp and enjoyed the scenery over supper.

Travis, Russ, Allan

Note the large crevasse that encircles the summit from southeast around to the north side, as well as the large crevasses visible from the White River Basin.

Tuesday morning we packed up and had a leisurely climb to camp Schurman, where we lunched and discussed whether to proceed up to Emmons flats, or stay where there was melt water and toilet. We decided to explore a bit, so Russ and I climbed up to Emmons flats, and then about 500 feet higher, hoping to find a camp-able site to allow a head start in the morning. Unfortunately, the route directly above was blocked by a large crevasse. We descended and scouted a suitable place to cross left, up onto the crevassed slope of the corridor. Spent the remainder of the day getting beta from a group that had attempted the summit that day. Nice evening with continued clear skies, and good stargazing.

Note: Route shown is not precise, as many crevasses are not visible from this angle.

Wednesday morning we awoke early for an alpine start from Camp Schruman. Headed on up the Emmons, navigating through the crevassed lower corridor by headlamp and alpen glow. Under clear skies, we watched the sunrise and the breathtaking landscape unfold. Significant crevasses necessitated climbing back and forth up the Emmons Glacier, and to the right of the usual corridor route. Took a moment to inspect and photograph a large crevasse between the Emmons Withrop glaciers.

(rotate picture)

At mid day snack break, we discussed if we felt that we could reach the summit, as significant detours around crevasses, as well as sketchy snow bridge crossings, had delayed our progress. We all agreed to press on up, and crossed up and over crevasse onto the upper Winthrop glacier, about even with the tops of Russel Cliffs, above gaping crevasses. Above us loomed the large corniced crevasse that blocked the direct route to the summit.

Large Overhanging Crevasse

Boot-packing our way, we continued up and around the north side, and we were able to get past the large crevasse and climbed directly up the northwest side of the summit crater rim, between Liberty Cap and the summit. Achieved the summit a bit after 3:00.

Allan on summit

After a breezy rest and good round of pictures, we headed down into the summit crater to set up camp. Expanded and improved the existing tent pad and boiled up some supper, then had a bit of rest.

Near sundown, we all headed back up to the summit for more pictures and leisurely watched the sunset. Then back down for a good nights rest. A bit breezy up top, but not bad by our tents.

Sunset from Top of Mount Rainier

Last rays of Sunset, Mount Rainier

Awoke with the sunrise, and witnessed the climbers coming up the DC route and crossing the crater for the summit. Packed up camp and headed back to the north crater rim. With significantly stronger winds (~45mph) and frequent stronger gusts (~60mph) whipping across the north slopes, Russ recommended we descend the DC, and we all agreed that sounded like better footing.

The DC route traversed over onto the upper Emmons glacier, allowing a good view east, then back toward the clever. The route was well packed, allowing for sure footing and sightseeing. Descended the rock and scree of the clever, as the snow option was out. Hustled on down the mountain, and at Camp Muir, Russ ran on ahead to retrieve his truck from the White River parking lot. Travis and I had a more leisurely trip down the snowfield and the blooming meadows of Paradise.

Met up at the visitors center, the headed to Whittaker's for burgers and pizza, then back to Seattle.

All agreed that we had a great climb, good weather, and a good time. Travis and I both think that 2 nights on the summit would allow for more summit activities, including time to explore the ice caves. Maybe next year! A bit earlier in the season would allow for more direct climbing route.