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ScaredSilly

[TR] Mt. Rainier - Sunset Ridge 05/25/2018

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Posted (edited)

Trip: Mt. Rainier - Sunset Ridge

Trip Date: 05/25/2018

Trip Report:

Geezers on the Go or Fading into Sunset Ridge.

Having done routes from Carbon River, White River, and Paradise I have always wanted to do a west side route. Two of my partners from many years joined in on the fun. The average age was 62 with a combined over 120 years in the hills. We did the usual hike from the West Side Road via the no longer maintained Tahoma Creek trail. From the along Emerald Ridge which we never saw cause we ascend into the clouds we gained the terminus of the Tahoma and crossed it somewhere. Eventually we broke out of the clouds and camped below Puyallup Cleaver at around 6800 feet. In the morning we gained the cleaver and followed it to around 8500 at which point we bailed left and crossed until the South Mowich. We roped up but the crossing was very straight forward and we headed up initial lower slope to 9500 feet.

At this point there is a bergshrund across the whole of the lower apron/ridge. We crossed more to the left. Again straight forward but sloppy snow. We bivied at the bergshrund. The next morning hoping to have an overnight freeze which did not occurred we launched upwards. The climbing was at around 45 degrees. The higher up the firmer the snow got. We pretty much side stepped the vast majority of the route. We stayed mostly to the climbers left and found several places to rest. Including one great spot with 60-70 foot high conglomerate walls just waiting to pitch bowling ball sized rocks down.

From here a few hundred feet more of climbing and we gained the ridge proper and had great views of Sunset Amphitheater. Until this point we had climbed roped or unroped sans any gear. Once on the ridge proper we followed it until we need to down climb around a short 30 foot section of bare rock (by passed via snow). This lead to the finial pinnacle which forces one out on to the Mowich Face. Here again the climbing was straight forward we stayed more climbers right (two pitches), traversed left (~one pitch), then gained the ridge (~one pitch). Overall 45-55 degree climbing with pickets. My one partner did most all of the leading, my excuse for not contributing was being tired having climbed S. Sister a few days before. Our other partner is just a geezer.

After that we traversed the ridge to Liberty Cap which was good fun cause we could see where in the past we had topped on either the Central or North Mowich headwalls, Ptarmigan (including an infamous bivy), Liberty and Curtis Ridge. So it was a bit of nostalgia for all.  Especially for me since Sunset Ridge was my 10th different route on the hill and exactly 35 years to the weekend since my first attempt on Rainier.

Overall conditions were a bit soft at the mid elevations. The approach was manageable even in the clouds. Route finding was straigtforward. On the other hand, we slept warm - including the last night less than 100 feet below Columbia Cap. I'll add some photos soon.

Oh, being from out of the area we stayed at Gateway Inn and Cabins which is right before the Park entrance before and after our climb. The folks are very accommodating so I'll give them a plug.

Gear Notes:
3 Pickets and 3 screws (the later not used). Two tools 60cm axe and 50 cm hammer.

Approach Notes:
West Side Road via Tahoma Creek

Edited by ScaredSilly
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Congrats on your 35th rainier- anniversary and a new line!  Looking forward to fotos!

 

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This is route has been on my list for a while!  Do you think it will still be pretty straightforward for a few more weeks?

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I think the route will be fine for a while. The approach is very straight forward (probably more so if not in the clouds). The bergshrund at the base had several crossings on the left side. So I would not hesitate to say you would be in fine shape for 2-3 more weeks. 

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Wow, nice work, gentlemen!  Very inspiring.  I'm glad to see other routes getting tracks other than the usual suspects.  When my wife and I met you on Liberty Cap, we definitely felt way less hardcore after climbing Liberty Ridge and heard you just came up Sunset!

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