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Everything posted by scottk

  1. Climb: Mt. Rainier-Kautz Glacier Date of Climb: 7/28/2006 Trip Report: TomB, TonyM, and I headed up to try our hand on the Kautz this past weekend. Headed out Friday morning from Paradise to Glacier Vista and down to the Nisqually. Options to access the Wilson included the Fan, straight across the Nisqually towards the left side of the Wilson, and up the right side of the Nisqually towards the right side of the Wilson. We thought we could see a route towards the right side of the Wilson and headed out that way. Another team of two chose to head directly towards the left side of the Wilson. As we climbed higher it became apparent that our route was becoming increasingly more broken up and would ultimately put us directly beneath rock bands and seracs. It's always tough to give up hard fought altitude, but eventually we retreated and followed the other team of two up the left route to the Wilson (they won the route finding prize for the day). Here's a picture of the general route we both took: This approach is generally pretty straight-forward, with the exception of a short section of moderately steep, dirty ice to access the Wilson. Much preferred to the nasty fan. The rest of the trip up to Turtle Rock was uneventful and straight-forward. There was another 3-person team already at Turtle Rock and we were eventually joined by the previously mentioned 2-person team. Running water and good tent platforms made for good camping, although the wind was blowing hard. A ranger trotted by during the early evening, returning around 8:00. He indicated the rappel station was at 10,700 (not!). Given our intention of climbing over to the DC, we packed up everything (not!) and headed out at 2:00. Next, we had to overcome a few challenges. First, after about an hour of climbing, we came to the realization that the rope was still in camp. After much cursing and self flagellation, Tony the ironman volunteered to go get it. Tom and I shivered in the wind for 45 minutes until he returned. Our next challenge occurred when we started looking for the rappel station at 10,700. Up to 10,800, down to 10,600 and way over to the west we went looking for something that looked like the pictures we had seen. No luck. Back up we went. Eventually, around 11,000, we could see the team of three hanging out above us at a spot that looked like the rappel spot. And so it was. They were turning around at that point due to the high winds. There was an old rope down the route but it was knotted to assist people that were climbing up. We used our own rope to rappel down and then quickly crossed the gully below the ice fall. Much preferred to climbing down the gully and a lot more fun. The first ice ramp was about 35 degrees with lots of ice penitentes, cracks, and other features that provided good footholds. This was fun and relaxing. Then we crossed the lower-angle snow slope to the second ice ramp. This ramp was much more intimidating. We didn’t measure the slope, but I’m guessing it averaged about 45-50 degrees with short moves that were steeper. Everyone else gractiously allowed me to lead. Full disclosure here, given that I don’t have much experience ice climbing, the first pitch was slow and somewhat scary. We had a 60 meter rope and 5 screws. I put a screw in every 30 ft or so, but I knew that I didn’t want to fall 60 ft. Although I was using 2 ice tools, the ice was brittle and plates of ice would fly off with every swing. One of the plates (a big one) glanced off Tony’s pack and smacked Tom in the thigh. He thought it was broken at first, but fortunately it was only a bad bruise. I found that the crampons seemed to grip well even with about ½ inch of penetration. With encouragement from below I began to move more confidently and eventually reached a good belay spot. I belayed off two equalized screws. Tony and Tom, with one tool and one axe each, moved faster than I did. The second pitch was easier, with less angle and more features to work with. I led again while Tony belayed me up the pitch. I set screws every 50 feet or so on the second pitch. The sun was actually hitting the ice at this point and it became more plastic and reliable. This pitch was actually fun. We simul-climbed for a short bit. When I reached the top of the steep stuff I set up another belay station. Here’s a few photos from the second belay station: From here we reached the upper section of the Kautz, leaving ice behind and starting the long slog to the top. We chose to head right, crossing over the rocky ridge to the Nisqually and finding a boot track that showed us the way through the crevasses. I’m not sure why but we were all whipped at this point. This was my 5th time up Rainier, I’m in better condition than ever, and I still was complete toast on this trip. I’m not sure if it was the heavier pack or the front pointing up the ice ramps, but it was the same for Tom and Tony. Never-the-less, we made it to the top at 4:00 pm (embarrassing long summit day) and had the summit completely to ourselves. We had originally considered camping at the summit but the high winds, negative weather forecast, and developing cloud cover made that option un-attractive. So down the DC we headed, following the trough all the way to Camp Muir by 7:00. A very relaxing trip down that made us glad we had decided to carry over. Due to the weather forecast, Camp Muir was half deserted, a big surprise for the end of July. We had a very comfortable evening and a great sleep. The next morning we awoke, refreshed and in good spirits. The wind was blowing hard, there were clouds above us on the summit, and clouds below us, with a dusting of snow to freshen up the dirty snow surface created by 3-4 weeks of hot sunny weather. The walk down was quick (2 hours) and there was ice on the rocks at Pebble Creek. The Kautz may not be the toughest route on the mountain, but it was the perfect challenge for the three of us. The route is still in great shape for anyone that likes moderate ice climbing Gear Notes: 5 ice screws (6 would have been better for me), 2 ice tools for the lead, tool and axe for others, 60 meter rope, rappel/belay device Approach Notes: head straight up the left side of the Nisqually to the bottom of the Wilson
  2. New Hikers for Glaciers, Please Weigh In

    Plastic mountaineering boots are great for walking on glaciers with crampons. The best reason is that something like the Koflach Degre's will minimize the blisters on your heels. You can also rent them for a fraction of the cost (REI or Marmot Mountain).
  3. The picture is a bit misleading, my foot is actually on a hummock of ice in front of the rope. It was actually cold enough that day that descending the Kautz in the evening would have probably been ok, assuming a rappel down the ice chutes. We had no issues with falling rock or ice on the way up (other than chunks knocked off by ice tools) and everything was frozen coming down the DC. Never-the-less, we were very glad to zip down the DC to Muir.
  4. We're heading up on Friday with plans to summit on Saturday. Did you take the Fan on the approach or head up the Nisqually to access the Turtle snowfield? If we see your gear we'll make sure it's well pinned down.
  5. I haven't done Lib Ridge, so I can't compare, but here's my experience on Adams Glacier in 2004. First of all, we did it in mid-July with perfect snow conditions for cramponing. Most of the climb feels like ~40-45 degrees. There was a ~300 ft section of ~50 degrees where we used 2 tools and protection. Lots of cool navigation through jumbled seracs and crevasses. There was a steep and small snow bridge on the climber's left side across what appears to be the last big crevasse. Another week and that bridge probably was gone, making it necessary to do some vertical ice climbing to get past that crevasse. North ridge is a nice low-key way to descend and it brings you out very close to the base of the Adams Glacier.
  6. My baseline training consists of 40 minutes on the stairmaster 3-4 days per week plus a climb/hike with 3K-5K of vertical about once every 2 weeks. This baseline seems to keep me in good enough cardio shape to do pretty much anything, although I become stronger during climbing season (April through July) just because of the climbing. The one issue I have with the stairmaster is lack of focus on the quads. Running is the best training for climbing, but my 45 year old knees just can't take it. I know people that have a lot of success with biking, it's just difficult to keep up in the winter given short days and rainy weather.
  7. Diameter of Prusik when used with 8.1 mm rope?

    Prussik might work just as well as a Tibloc in a tie-off situation. However, in my experience, Tiblocs work better than prussik knots when you're climbing out. When climbing up a snowy crevasse wall the prussiks tend to ice up and you have to untie and retie everytime you want to move the knot up.
  8. New News and Deals Newsletter

    I just signed up. When do I win my new tent? Seriously, I suggest you advertise the tent give-away on the home page and/or other pages. I suspect not many people check out the cc.news board.
  9. The less respected dangers of climbing

    Glad to hear you're ok. The close calls are always the best stories…. It's a good reminder for us all that there's less margin for error when you're by yourself. I had a similar reminder this winter after falling in a tree well. It was the result of skiing too fast on steep terrain at the end of a hard day of skiing (when these “should have known better” incidents always seem to occur). I fell about 30 feet from this tree and was sliding towards it at a very high rate of speed. I remember thinking, “This is going to hurt”. Fortunately, the branches absorbed the impact and I was virtually unhurt. However, I ended up pinned between the branches and the snow in a prone position about 4 ft below the snow surface. Although I was skiing with a partner (out of sight behind me at the time), he skied past me without noticing. It took about 10 minutes of Houdini-like twisting to remove my skis, rotate my body, and dig steps to climb out. (OK, Houdini would have been out of that tree well in about 15 seconds.) Let just say, it was a slow, careful ski the rest of the way.
  10. What kind of conditions for 0 degree bag

    I've always used a 10-15 degree bag and found it the right balance between weight and comfort. Most nights at 10K on Rainier I end up sleeping with the bag unzipped, even when the temperature outside the tent is around 10 degrees. The bivy and down jacket can be added on for those really cold nights.
  11. How much gear to take to the summit of Rainier

    June can be beautiful or you could get hammered by a storm. Just keep an eye on the weather. We were pinned down for about 6 hours at 13,600 one year by a June storm that blew in very quickly. Lists are fine, but make sure you're focused on the potential hazards and why you're bringing stuff. On Rainier, you should be prepared to spend the night. Key items for spending the night include shovel (one for every person), down jacket or light sleeping bag, insulating pad, and probably a small stove/fuel for making water. It's not a bad idea to practice digging a snow cave so you know how much work it is. Practicing crevasse rescue is well advised (including self rescue), and that will inform you regarding what you need. We've had one person pop through a wind crust into a crevasse. He was able to prussik out just fine and we were prepared for hauling him out if necessary. So in the end it was a confidence builder but it does emphasize the importance of being prepared... If you have a GPS, use lithium batteries (much better in the cold and lighter!) and bring extras. On that storm in June it was about 10 degrees and I went through 4 sets of regular alkaline batteries in my GPS. Let's just say the data gaps were an issue. Good luck and have a great trip.
  12. What's the most stupid thing you ever did?

    Climbing Emmons route on Rainier with no shovels. Weather was clear when we started but quickly turned to snowing and blowing on the way down. We had to hunker down at 13,600 and were faced with the prospect of having to spend the night. After 4 hours of pathetic scraping with ice axes in an attempt to build a snow cave for three people, the weather cleared and we were able to make our way down. It would have been a challanging night without a snow cave. Always bring a shovel...
  13. [TR] Mt Rainier- Liberty Ridge 4/28/2006

    Contratulations to both Sky and Casey for this incredible acomplishment. Am I correct in assuming that this is the first ski of Liberty Ridge? It has been inspiring to watch Sky and others push back the frontiers of ski mountaineering in the Washington Cascades during the last few years. And thank you for sharing the experience with us through your stories and pictures.
  14. [TR] Mt. Hood- South Side 4/23/2006

    We summited on Sunday with special congratulations going to TomB's 13 year old son who completed his first Cascade summit in fine style. Everything that kjack says is true: windy, good climbing, bad sking (particularily below 10,000 ft). Because the south side of the summit (including the area above and below the hogsback) was somewhat sheltered from the wind, the skiing was actually tolerable above 10,000 ft and very hard below 10,000 ft. Also, I wanted to mention that the standard route is currently heading up the couloir just left of the normal Pearly Gates. Not sure why it's different this year, but we thought it was actually a bit easier than the normal route. Any info from other climbers on the difference this year?
  15. Climb: Mt. Hood-Leuthold Couloir Date of Climb: 3/5/2005 Trip Report: TomB, SteveR, NickC, TonyM and I climbed Leuthold Couloir on Saturday. We left at 4:00 AM from Timberline on a calm, balmy morning and made good time up the ski area and across to Illumination Rock. We roped up and headed across Reid Glacier. It was a tough slog across the glacier and up the lower part of the couloir due to soft snow and difficult post holing. Fortunately, another party of 2 was kind enough to set some steps up the couloir. The ice chunks were raining down, mostly small and harmless but with the occasional large chunk. A large book-sized rock almost wiped out Tom at one point. As we reached the narrow part of the couloir we started to encounter hard water ice and put in a couple of screws for protection. We stopped protecting and just moved as fast as possible once we turned the corner into the tight part of the couloir. This part of the climb was mostly ice or thin snow on ice. The ice chunks were raining down but nothing very hazardous. Once we were past the tight part it was just a long slog up the rest of the couloir. The weather started to change at this point, some high clouds and increasing wind. We traversed the ridge (fun and spectacular) and reached the summit shortly before 2:00. We headed down the Pearly Gates through gathering clouds. Nick carried his skis the entire climb but didn’t put them on until below the Hogsback due to difficult snow conditions. The weather started to clear once we reached the 8,500 foot level. We reached the parking lot about 5:00, a total of 13 hours for the entire climb. All in all, a varied climb with a great combination of challenge and scenery. The post-holing was hard work and slowed our progress significantly. It was nice to escape the crowds on the south side and experience a remoter part of the mountain. Gear Notes: Ice axe Most of us used a single ice tool for security on the ice Ice screws (used) Pickets (not used)
  16. Photos of climate change from BBC site

    It's been a few decades since I took paleoclimatology, but the best theory at the time was that changes in the earth/sun orbit changes the amount of solar radiation, which changes the amount of photosynthesis, which changes absorbtion of CO2. The first proponant of the theory was Milankovic and his theory has been validated by John Imbrie and others. See the link below: http://www.copernicus.org/EGU/egs/milankovic.htm
  17. Climb: Mt. Adams-Adams Glacier, North Ridge, Diamond Snowfield Date of Climb: 6/27/2004 Trip Report: Nick, Tony and I hiked up to camp near the lake at 7,500 feet on Friday. The weather was beautiful. On Saturday, we had a leisurely morning with the general intention of hiking the North Ridge. Tony was set on skiing the diamond snowfield on the West side of the North Ridge and I was looking for a substantial but not exhausting ski that would leave me with enough energy to climb the Adam’s Glacier route the next day. JohnR and I had flown the north side of Adams taking pictures the week before and it looked like the traditional route into the diamond (i.e., the bowl above and south of the diamond) was in good shape. However, upon arrival it appeared that the bowl had lost a lot of snow and it didn’t appear to be in great shape anymore. I decided I would head up the North Ridge with Tony and Nick to look for some skiing. The climb up the north ridge was tiring and by 10,600 I decided it was time to start heading down. We could now see that the entrance to the diamond from the bowl had melted considerably and would involve traversing about 300 feet of steep scree. However, Tony had spotted what looked to be a ledge that left the ridge about 10,500 and extended over to the top of the diamond so I decided to give it a shot. Tony and Nick continued up the ridge towards the summit and we communicated with hand held radios. The down climb from the ridge to the ledge was fine. However, the ledge ended with an overhanging cliff and a 15 foot drop into very steep snow at the top of the diamond. It was not a jump that suited me. At the time I noticed a gap behind the rock spire at the top of the diamond but didn’t think it was promising enough to take a look. I thought there might be another entrance down lower so I continued to climb down. The cliffs just seemed to get higher and higher with no way to reach the snowfield. I then thought I could enter the snowfield that is skier’s right of the diamond but was also not able to find a safe entrance. (A climbing group did manage to enter that snowfield from the ridge on Sunday.) Tragically, I ended up carrying my skies down to about 8,000 feet before finding some snow to ski. Meanwhile, Tony and Nick were able to summit and start back down. Tony knew about my travails but he was determined to find a way onto the snowfield. His opinion of the overhanging cliff at the end of the ledge was similar to mine, so he decided to investigate the gap behind the rock spire at the top of the snowfield. Low and behold, he was able to down climb about 50 feet to a gully and pick his way along a patch of snow into the very top of the diamond. His description of the ski can be found at Turns-All-Year. Needless to say, it was very depressing to sit in camp and watch this tiny black speck carve out a long beautiful sting of turns down the diamond. Tony returned camp about 5:00 and Nick finished the North Ridge down climb about 7:00. The ski had cut about 2 hours off the descent! John and Steve arrived into camp about 6:00. By this time, the clouds on the mountain had begun to thicken and we were growing more concerned about weather for the next day’s climb. John, Steve and I woke at 1:30 on Sunday morning to fog and no stars. We continued to prepare, hoping that we would break out of the clouds as we climbed. At 1:40, stars began to appear and by 2:00, the night was perfectly clear. Our excitement grew. We departed camp about 2:30 and headed for the base of Adam’s Glacier. Due to the darkness of the night, we ended up having to pick our way through some crevassed sections in the flats before starting up the steeper part of the glacier. There was one team way ahead of us and two other teams that passed us as we rested at the base of the steeps. A fourth team was below. It was a beautiful night with Styrofoam snow and a light wind. We started out on about 40 degree slopes before reaching a large serac that we had determined from below could be passed to either the right or the left. The six-person Mountaineers team decided to go left so we went right. This part of the climb was closer to 50 degrees and we decided it would be nice to pull out the ice tools and protect with pickets. About 300-400 feet of protected climbing brought us to a flatter area that allowed for a rest, food, and water. The 6-person Mountaineers team was moving slowly up the other side while another 3-person Mountaineers team headed off to do the North Side of the Northwest Ridge. We continued up the 40-degree slope, now back to ice axes and no protection. About 500 feet up John had a poorly attached pole fall off his pack and roll down the hill. Fortunately, the pole rolled right to the leader of the Mountaineers team who grabbed it. She must have handed it off to another 2-person team that was moving faster because they were the ones that delivered it back to John about 1,000 feet higher. We now reached a crevasse below the bergschrund that had looked impassable from the air but had not been visible from below. It was indeed impassable and we ended up heading way to the left, weaving between huge walls of ice and across interesting snow bridges before finding what appears to be the last remaining path of snow bridges across the bergschrund. Negotiating through this section was one of the highlights of the trip. We reached the relatively flat section above all the crevasses and in front of the huge serac at the top with a massive ice cave at the bottom. This was a good spot for a rest, food, and water. We chatted a bit with a couple other teams, including a fifth team that had started much later than the rest of us and made great time without ropes or protection. The rest of the climb was a cakewalk as we headed left around the large serac at the top and made the long trek across the summit cap to the top. It took us a total of 9 hours to reach the top, but it seemed much shorter. The variety and challenge on the Adams route helped to make the time fly. The combination of challenge, scenery, teamwork, weather, and snow conditions made for a truly memorable climb. We headed down the North ridge at about noon. At 10,500 we left the ridge and traversed across the west side of the ridge towards the diamond snowfield. We found the gap that Tony had described from the day before and were able to find our way to the top of the diamond snowfield. I choose to glissade while John and Steve plunged stepped down the approximately 30 degree slope. It was a quick but careful glissade down the softened snow. It’s too steep to glissade except under soft snow conditions, requiring a carefully calibrated heel sink and a lot of weight on the ice axe to keep under control. Skis would have been perfect. Never the less, it was a great finish to a great climb. We arrived back to our lake camp at about 3:30, packed up and left for the car at 4:45. I skied down to about 6,000 feet, with a few carries across snow free patches. We arrived back to the cars in about 2-2.5 hours. All in all, an excellent weekend. It’s hard to tell how much longer the bridges across the Adam’s Glacier bergschrund will hold up, but surely not for more than a few weeks. Gear Notes: We used pickets for protection and ice tools. Given the excellant conditions, protection probably not critical, but I'd want the tools for sure.
  18. Pandora, Good to meet you and CascadeClimber. Thanks for leading the way on Sunday.