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Loco Raindrops

Rainier- Kautz vs Emmons route

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Posted (edited)

So, after picking the bean I have decided I want to get the most I can out of my trip to Rainier from a learning perspective for the time I have to do it. I've decided to deep6 the basic 5 day route thru RMI and instead am going with either their Kautz or Emmons seminar. 

So, here is my question. 

Of these 2 routes what would be your choice and why?

(Doesnt have to be one is easier than the other) 

This fatboy can motor. 

I believe I will get more from the whole thing by opting for one of these 2 choices. 

They have a Muir option as well but I know this is the most travelled and most likely to run into a jam(especially late July/early August) so leaning towards the other 2 routes. 

Also a goal down the road is Denali so...

Im also a tent kinda dude. 

Thanks in advance.

Edited by Loco Raindrops

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If you are going to spend a bunch of time on the mountain, I'd prefer the Emmons. I'm not a big fan of objective hazard, which the Kautz has in spades.  The Emmons is the safest on the mountain by a long shot.

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21 minutes ago, JasonG said:

If you are going to spend a bunch of time on the mountain, I'd prefer the Emmons. I'm not a big fan of objective hazard, which the Kautz has in spades.  The Emmons is the safest on the mountain by a long shot.

Yeah I heard Kautz can be sketchy. 

I could also do this seminar on the Muir route as well. 

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3 minutes ago, Loco Raindrops said:

I could also do this seminar on the Muir route as well. 

The DC isn't real safe from an objective standpoint either.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, JasonG said:

The DC isn't real safe from an objective standpoint either.

Yeah, I suppose to a degree the objective possibilities are present regardless of what route ya do. 

I always was of the the approach that the mountain is going to do what it wants when it wants so Im willing to roll the dice because in my mond while you may minimize one potential others can alqays arise out of nowhere.

Thats part of it right?

Im trying to figure out when would be the better time to go.

Beginning of season or in September. 

Hoping some of you all can help me out and give me some sort of idea what I am looking at as far as the different times of year goes so I can make a logical choice. 

I believe June is the other time they run this program. 

May do the Muir Seminar. 

https://www.rmiguides.com/mt-rainier/camp-muir-seminar

Edited by Loco Raindrops

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1 hour ago, Loco Raindrops said:

I suppose to a degree the objective possibilities are present regardless of what route ya do.

Not really.  The Emmons is pretty safe from rock and icefall, much more so than any other route on the mountain.

You don't want to be on the mountain after July.

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, JasonG said:

Not really.  The Emmons is pretty safe from rock and icefall, much more so than any other route on the mountain.

You don't want to be on the mountain after July.

But you still can fall into a crevasse when the surface below you decides to let go.

No matter what there will always be potential hazards.

...am I missing something?

I mean I get minimizing potential but I just think the risk is always there and the mountain will do what it does. 

Folks roll down the highway in 2 ton chunks of metal daily at 80mph and never bat an eye. 

Edited by Loco Raindrops

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3 hours ago, Loco Raindrops said:

..am I missing something?

Yes.  Objective hazard is something that is often indifferent to you skill level (Google Alex Lowe's death).  The various routes on the mountain vary tremendously in objective hazard, with the Emmons being by far the safest from that standpoint.  A crevasse fall doesn't fit in this category and is more related to your skill level in picking a good line up the mountain.  You'll learn this in your seminar and how to stack the various risk odds in your favor.

And, the mountain gets bony after mid summer, increasing the danger of rock and icefall, and making the glacier travel trickier and less safe.  Rainier is typically in terrible condition come September (at least compared to June).

Regarding your risk comparison.....Nobody close to me has died in a car accident.  Too many of my friends have been killed in the mountains.  I don't buy driving being just as dangerous as climbing mountains per hour of activity (we drive a lot more than we climb typically).

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Posted (edited)

Meh, I suppose my vehicle analogy was based on previous experience. I had more than 1 close friend die with a vehicle being involved.I trust that the guides will make the right calls as I know I am nowhere near that capability nor would I ever overplay my capabilities. 

Its not just about me up there. 

This has been something that I always wanted to get after. Ive spent a lot of time alone in very cold conditions in a tent, on snowshoes, pulling a pulk, blah blah blah but the allure of climbing has always drawn me in. So my logic is get at it. 

I 1st as you may have seen was considering the Muir 5 day climb but then realized I would get much more out of the seminar. 

Its more about that for me than summit. 

(journey vs trip)

I guess after 30+ yrs of primarily backpacking Im kinda bored with it and think climbing will be the fix I need. 

...and I want to juice it for every bit of knowledge I can.

 

 

Edited by Loco Raindrops

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Posted (edited)

We dont have much out here in the east so my only worry is altitude but I think a few days at Muir may help with that. 

I will prolly do Lions Head rt here on Washington this winter, and maybe back to the Adirondaks to play around before I come out that way.

Been many years. 

Im pretty set on the Muir seminar. 

Then again if you ask my wife I change my mind all of the time so everything is subject to change lol.

Edited by Loco Raindrops

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Posted (edited)

So, should I consider June over September?

Will a 20° bag cut it in June? I know I can obviously layer. 

I have a 40°, 20°, and a -20° bag but the -20 is a tank(synthetic being we have high humidity here.) 

I have a MH Spectre 20° down bag that is under 3lbs I'd prefer slogging up the ridge if I can.

Thoughts?

Edited by Loco Raindrops

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Yes, June, and yes a 20 degree bag should be fine. 

The guides will do a good job of looking out for your safety, I just was letting you know that all routes on the mountain are not equally safe.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, JasonG said:

Yes, June, and yes a 20 degree bag should be fine. 

The guides will do a good job of looking out for your safety, I just was letting you know that all routes on the mountain are not equally safe.

I get it man and I do really appreciate it. I figured as with anything like this there are pros and cons. 

There are always tradeoffs.

I just want to get dialed in as best I can and who better for me to harass for info than you all?

😁

 

Edited by Loco Raindrops

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Posted (edited)

So, Jason has pretty much hit the nail on the head.  You really don't want to be on any route with rockfall potential after June, as a generalization.  Emmons has the least amount of objective hazards relative to most of the other routes.

The Kautz is steeper and in later season turns into a real ice climb, so if you are looking for that kind of action take that into consideration.

As for best time to go, beginng of the season and September would not be either of my recommendations.  Look at in terms of a chart with two lines. The chart starts in May, ends in September.  As the season progresses, the weather becomes more stable (the line rises in terms of % chance of good weather).  It takes a pretty big jump around July 5th and then more or less becomes asymptotic through the end of September.  (Basically, weather is stable July 5 through Sept 31).

The other line is the condition of the glacier.  It starts out high in May and decreases throughout the season, bottoming out in October.  The guides do a good job maintaining the routes, installing ladders and fixed ropes and what not, but there is only so much they can do, especially when the route becomes bare glacial ice.  In a low snow year the D.C. becomes completely impassible and gets rerouted below the cleaver onto the Emmons as early as August.  

What you want is to time your trip at the nexus of these two lines - select the time frame when you have the best chance of good weather and good glacial conditions.  This is typically July.  June is not a bad time, but your chance of having good weather is not as high as in July. 

Also, have you really looked at all your options?  Maybe a skills course through AAI (American Alpine Institute) on Baker would be a better experience?  Really not much difference than Rainier except a bit lower in elevation, much more of a wilderness experience and better views.

Edited by DPS
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I have come down the DC and Emmons a bunch. I would not want to go up the Emmons as it is one big seemingly never ending slog. The DC is a cattle trail. I would not want to spend a bunch of time on either routes because of all the people.

I would go to the Kautz, there is some objective danger but no different than the DC. It takes about a minute to cross under the serac. Traveling up to the high camp requires glacier skills (crevasses) on the first day whereas that is not the case for the DC and Emmons. There are good camps with views that are not crowded. One can easily take two days to get to high camp and enjoy themselves while doing some skills along the way. 

The can be some ice on the Kautz, many think they need two tools but a competent person can do it with one. The first step is actually close enough to the high camp one could go up to it for a bit of practice. Earlier in the season it will be snow. The time to for it is mid-June to mid-July. Later the upper part of the route get lots of sun cups.

I would also check out the courses on Baker by AAI. We ran into a couple of folks doing a course over 6 days and they were having a good time. 

 

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Posted (edited)

The climb is going to be a dual purpose trip being I am also meeting family out there so if not for that I prolly would consider Baker. 

I have 30yrs of wilderness death marches under my belt. Trust me, there is a reason I want to get above treeline lol.

I do trail maintenance out here in the east.

I really need some new scenery and at this point even a desert seems quite appealing.

I would go with July-Aug but the problem is the seminars thru RMI are either in June or September. 

I am staying at the cottages in Ashford so Im really trying to keep it simple regardless. 

I climbed around on rock and other stuff out this way growing up but its been so long Im a noob as far as I am concerned.

Im taking courses here at the local climbing gym here in Pittsburgh. 

Every little bit helps I would think and I should be able to get in a lot of time on the ropes leading to 2020.

If nothing else I hope to just have a leg up when I get out to Paradise. 

Gonna do a run up Mt Washington this winter and possibly throw a trip to the Adirondaks into the mix. 

Its all about the journey. 

I feel like a kid on Christmas already and Im a year away lol.

Edited by Loco Raindrops

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8 hours ago, ScaredSilly said:

I would not want to go up the Emmons as it is one big seemingly never ending slog

You realize that this isn't someone who has spent any time on a  glacier, right @ScaredSilly?  For first timers (at least in my experience), just being on a huge glacier with deep crevasses is  plenty exciting.

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Yes, I do realize that the OP is a new to glaciers, but walking across the Nisqually and looking up 7k feet is way more impressive and exciting than the Emmons. I distinctly remember that from my first couple of trips to Rainier and even 25 years later it was just as impressive.

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Just a fyi, I did a bit of glacier travel many years back while in Alaska. 

Im not new to crampon use either. 

I currently own a pair of g20 autos, and a pair of Air Techs(steel semis) which will be what I most likely use on Rainier. 

I play on ice any chance I get. Obviously I am pretty much sol on Pa glacier travel. :P

Just wanted to clarify a bit.

 

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