Trip: Mt. Rainier - Ingraham Direct - Ingraham Direct Trip Date: 03/18/2019 Trip Report:
Muir Departure: 0715
Top of Cadaver Gap: 0900
Bergschrund crossing: 1100
Takobed in the winter – an objective since first touching foot on the summit three years ago. Last year, attempts were called off due to lack of ski ability; however, after having my first season of skiing, plus this winter season, confidence levels were enough to give this a shot.
Departing from Yakima, WA, you can see glimpses of the Eastern routes and even the summit from some houses in town, so the stoke was extra high – naturally. Car camping at Paradise, we awoke around 0030, opting to have an extra hour for travel above Muir – will come handy later on. Leaving the cars by 0200, under a near full moon travel was smooth until we hit Pan Face/ Point. Immediately equipping ski crampons was necessary for the face – then, we opted to boot the three-small terraces up to the Point. Guided by moonlight we cruised up the Muir Snowfield seeking an uphill path on the breakable & slippery crust.
Peeking into the public hut, we were the only folks at all of Muir it seemed at 0600, although someone did leave a bag of jerky – cheers. Getting a full hour break in was the plan, enough time for snackage, drinkage and rope time. My friend chose to ditch his skis at Muir, based on a broken/ finagled binding and less time on skis this season thus I decided to carry my skis up to the summit for easier rope/ glacier travel. Marginal-minimal rock activity and decent snow conditions lead us up to the top of Cadaver Gap as we sought a more alternative route. The top inch of crust, shin-deep powder and layer adjustments landed us at the top around 0900 still plenty of time to plug away to.
Stepping onto Ingraham Flats, there was immediately a huge bergschrund to our right with covered shooting cracks fracturing outward. To the far looker’s right somewhat left of The Icebox, there was a boot-pack & skin-track coming from Cathedral Gap. Looking over to the cleaver, their path continued however we chose to follow a boot-pack hugging Gibraltar Rock – mistake. Navigating minor three-foot splitters, my friend stepped onto a solid-looking bridge and fell in about knee height before crawling forward. Walking a few feet further left, the bridge was much firmer. Just one of three sketchier crossings. Soon after we took our first proper break since Muir, scoping out the rest of the Ingraham. A few hundred feet higher the path mounted a bergschrund with no other immediate option around. Initially, we thought we could borrow steps about 10m left of the primary step, but hollow snow proved too sketchy. Making a deadman picket (in case he fell off and into the schrund), I belayed my friend as he made a high left step and pulled himself up by plunging his axe and kneeing into the snow.
Note: the schrund appeared to be full at least at this point of entry but remained untrustworthy.
After mounting the bergschrund, travel became much easier, crevasse crossing became more benign, a perfect time to put the head down and chug away at the elevation. Snow conditions remained consistent as earlier and wind conditions were quite dismal compared to the 20mph forecast. Nothing to report up to the summit.
Reaching the crater rim around 1355, our initial route did not seem feasible as a huge moat had formed but was simply surpassed traveling 30m to climber’s left. Tagging the windy and cold summit, we immediately began descending but hastily got off trail and found ourselves exposed above massive gapers to skier’s left of Lil’ T so throwing crampons back on we ascended 30m or so and were back on track. Skiing conditions were mainly survival skiing: firm snow mixed with ice and wind runnels left edges and whippet useless. More precise turning was essential, especially between 13k’ and 12k’ where it changed to 3-inch crust on 6-inches of powder.
Navigating down the bergschrund was quite easy, we chucked gear down and slid/hopped down off the overhanging portion. Roping up again, descended few hundred feet to the flats, where I threw skis back on and my friend ran back to Muir. Snow conditions from here until Paradise were awful – refrozen sloppy snow now crustier than the crab itself. Once at Muir we repacked out bags, stuffed face with all the food left in our bags and began the slog down being pushed by massive winds.
Crevasse Kit, Skis, Ski Crampons, Whippet Approach Notes: