Trip: Rainier - Emmons Glacier (Ski Descent)
Not going to go into a lot of detail here - I skied the Emmons Glacier Route on Tuesday for my first ski descent of Rainier and also my first solo summit of Rainier.
Spent the prior night at Schurman with a 30-deg bag and 9-oz bivvy sack. Overnight low on my watch thermo read 23-degF. Up at 5AM, left camp on skis/skins about 6AM with 2L water, some clothes, shovel, stove and food. Switched to boot crampons at 11k because it was too steep/icy for me to skin, even with ski crampons. Only a couple of minor crevasse issues in the 12-13k range. Summitted at 11AM and relaxed on the summit for about an hour, melting some additional water and hoping the snow conditions would soften.
Started the ski descent at Noon. Conditions were firm up high - I think the freezing level was supposed to be around 13,000'. Frozen sastrugi made difficult ski conditions down to around 12k. Some of the best conditions on the upper mountain occured in a small gully between seracs/ice ridge that I had ascended, which was sheltered and therefore not wind-affected. Below 12k snow conditions improved and below 11k really nice spring corn was had.
I arrived at Camp Schurman at 1PM. Packed up/melted more water until I ran out of fuel and skied the Interglacier from 2-3PM. I was happy to find that my legs were still feeling good and carrying my full pack didn't hinder the skiing pleasure on the Interglacier at all! Snow was good until about 7k at which point it got sloppy. Took off my skis at Glacier Basin and hoofed it down the makeshift trail back to the car at 4PM.
All in all a great trip, although snow conditions could have been better up high (higher freezing level or later descent?). Proud to have completed my first solo/ski on Rainier!
Pictures can be viewed here: Photos
Carried 2 ice screws and some makeshift etriers for self rescue in case of crevasse fall - not sure if that is the best method... otherwise, didn't take too much gear really.
Trail is bare below about 5,500' - new trail under construction but for now follow the makeshift trail developed after the flood.