Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
Mark_Husbands

[TR] Mt. Rainier- Gib Ledges 3/21/2004

Recommended Posts

Climb: Mt. Rainier-Gib Ledges

 

Date of Climb: 3/21/2004

 

Trip Report:

 

In '96 I drove up from California with a buddy to "climb Liberty Ridge". It was April. We really had no idea how low snow levels got in Washington, and certainly didn't know that the 410 was gated at the Park boundary. To make a long story short, we hiked, then skied, with huge packs, from the Park boundary at the NE entrance up to Glacier Basin and sat for 10 days or so in snow and rain, or snowy rain. The closest we got to Lib Ridge was somewhere on the lower Curtis overlooking the Carbon. We looked at Lib Ridge, looked at the new snow, and we were scared.

Instead we picked one only slightly lowsy day and climbed the Winthrop up to Camp Schurmann, then up the Emmons. We reached what I assume was the crater rim--a rocky point where the winds intensified fourfold. I dont recall even discussing trying to cross the unknown whiteout summit; we just turned around and headed for camp and California.

 

A year and a half ago I moved to Washington, but I haven't climbed as much as I used to. Yesterday I made it back to Rainier yesterday and summited in good weather via Gib Ledges. I'm sort of psyched.

 

Here's the little TR, with no pictures because I left my camera in the car.

 

I had a brunch on Saturday of course, so I couldn't get out of town until after noon. We were permitted and eating pasta in the lot by 5; on the trail at 6. I held up partner Jon, who's younger and fitter than me. We had decided on skis, which I removed on the Snowfield in favor of crampons. Jon persisted on boards, and we were at Muir by 10. We cooked for an hour in the hut while whispering to keep from disturbing the few cocoons in the dark corners. We got four hours of sleep only to rise and light the stoves again at 3. Two hours later we were on our way. Once again, it was obvious I was holding Jon up, but he had no other partner so I was safe from being abandoned. Nonetheless, we made steady if not rapid progress, and soon passed the famous Ledges (firm, icy tracks made travel easy) and made our way up styrofoam windslab to the plateau. We enjoyed perfect view of Adams, St. Helens and Hood. We spent some time pointing at mountains and naming them, to demonstrate our knowledge of our state's geography. Crossing the plateau was a very unappealing prospect, but we felt obligated to make the true tippy top, so off we went. Even on the summit the winds weren't really that bad; it was a great summit day. We were there just before 11, having completed the route from Muir in about 6 hours.

 

Initially, going down was fast and easy. But at the ledges we promptly got off route and cliffed ourselves out on a high ledge. I was tired and irritable by this time, so I yelled "fuck" a few times before backtracking to the lower ledge. A half hour wasted. This time the traverse of the Cowlitz Cleaver seemed an eternity. Why hadn't I noticed its length on the way up? We must have made it to the Hut by 3. I had a headache despite real efforts to hydrate, but since I had Jon along I was able to lie on my back for an hour whle he whipped up some quick grub, with water to chase it. Advil for dessert.

 

I had started much earlier to dread my "ski descent" and really couldn't understand how I had, at the car earlier, believed I would be able to ski 4000 feet in unknown snow conditions with an overnight pack wearing leather boots attached to railed out boards bought in 1993...after climbing and descending Mt. Rainier. I put the skis on, got my pack on, accomplished one traverse and kick turn, then beatered good. I had an immediate temper tantrum. I beat the sastrugi with my ski poles. Cruel gods, I had carried the cursed boards halway to Muir, now I would carry them all the way down.

 

There is surely someone out there that could have skied right down with same gear and conditions, but it isn't me. Jon lasted a bit longer with the benefit of actual tele boots and proper skis, but eventually gave in and suffered the skis on his back as well. We walked down in agony, knowing that our chances to make the gate curfew were growing ever more remote. The path of the vile bootpack led over the "summit" of Alta Vista, a hump we had traversed the previous day on skis. We were back at the car a little after 7 and soon on our way down.

 

Indeed, the gate was locked in Longmire. Would we have to search Longmire for the keyholder? No, our luck was improving. A pickup emerged from behind the Admin building. We flagged it immediately. It was operated by none other than the Snow Ranger. You could tell this by his gaiters, which kept his Koflach Arctis Expeditions from getting snowy inside. He instantly produced an all purpose government key and drew the gate aside.

 

We were free. Fueled by powerful Ashford road coffee, we made it to Seattle without further incident or events worth reporting in this forum.

 

Thank you for enduring this report.

 

 

Gear Notes:

snowshoes

 

Approach Notes:

do not use skis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey man, that's pretty awesome!

 

I ski alright and I have walked down that snowfield in frustration too. I think most people have at one time or another. Good work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I skied that snowfield a dozen times and always thought I was hot shit. Then one day, the conditions were less than optimal and I cursed and crashed my way down. It would have been easier to walk but I was determined to prove to myself that I was a skier.

Good TR.

Thanks. thumbs_up.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My first rando experience was on mt hood, and someone told me that I could use my koflachs in a an AT setup. The palmer snowfield was all rimed out, and I felt like I had never skied before when I put those boards on. I think my ass fell on that bulletproof cement at least 20 times on the way down. I can only imagine what a full pack was like. Been there done that on Adams, with a great slushfest on the way out.

 

Oh yeah, congrats on your summit, that's freakin cool

Edited by scot'teryx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good stuff Mark. Snowshoes are also a hell of a lot lighter when you it comes time to carry them. How were the snow/crevasse conditions above the ledges? Did you get a look at Gib chute? I have aspirations for that before to long.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Snow conditions above the ledges were perfect stiff snow going up and coming down. Crevasses were no problem at all..stepped over one or two, and over one bergy down on the Cowlitz. The chute was cake going up but nasty slush coming down, the whole ledge area was hot and slushy with airborne pebbles. the chute below the ledges, well, it just looked like more of that 35, 40 degree snow down there...definitely recieves junk from several sources...the Rock and the ice cliffs to the left.

if i knew the mountain better, maybe next time, i would come down some other way, Ingraham and Cadaver or Cathedral Gap, not sure. Or i guess a really early start would do it. Our approach was too late to contemplate a truly early start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mark:

Great TR; you really extended yourself, and succeeded. My helmet is off to you!

I've tried to ski down from Muir several times; had a good time once; misery every other time. You're normal.

Have a good summer of summits.

B.D.S.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×