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Ryan

Kautz Glacier!

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Alright- I need some feedback on our tentative itinerary for the Kautz Glacier in mid May. Our plan is to make the approach in to below the Turtle on the first day, set up camp, sleep, then the next day ascend from below the Turtle to Camp Hazard and set up camp there. We'll start our summit day from Camp Hazard, hopefully summit, and then back down to Camp Hazard and descend the Turtle and, depending on how we're feeling, either hike back to Paradise or camp another night. Any suggestions? Anyone who has done the route before, and if so, what was your itinerary? Thanks!

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My recommendation would be to skip your plan to move up to Camp Hazard, just hike to the base of the Turtle on the first day, camp there, and go for the summit from that camp. Moving camp up to Hazard won't get you much elevation gain and puts you all the closer to the ice cliffs that occationally puke debris down towards Hazard.

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I second pete_a's suggestion completely. Camp Hazard has become a much more dangerous camp than it once was, and the camp below the Turtle is a roomy spot and plenty high enough for a summit day. When you leave the lower camp in the early morning with summit packs, you'll be at Hazard before you know it.

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I agree with pete_a. Hazard is actually a safe enough

place, but it's not far above your proposed first camp,

and it's not a horrific day to the summit from your

proposed camp. Make it short and sweet.

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i know gator agrees though, spending more than 2 days on the mountain will increase your enjoyment of the whole experience. i tried the kautz in one day from down on the nisqually and felt like total shit by the time i reached 13k.

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Yeah, I think it'd be cool to be on the mountain for up to four days, considering I have nothing else to do. Of course, weather could put a damper on those plans, but it would be nice to be able to be out for that long. Sounds good though, thanks for the advice.

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I passed by several really prime camp spots on Wapowety Cleaver and the base of the Turtle on my way to Hazard on the first day. It's a long day for sure to Hazard from Paradise, quite a bit further away than Muir, with about 2000 more feet gain (1000 feet higher, plus about 1000 feet lost descending to the Nisqually). But I'm not sure I'd want to add those 3000 feet to summit day. There are some safer bivy spots down from Hazard a few hundred feet, according to Gator's book. I don't recall these being obvious, but then I was pretty wasted.

I would not urge you to plan a post-summit camp day out of any fatigue concerns. The glissade down the Turtle took us all of 15 minutes, and the alpine slide down Wilson Gully to the Nisqually was even more fun. Once you get to the Turtle, just about the only work left is the hike up from the Nisqually.

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stay at the turtle. if it's the extra time you need, stay there another day and as the others said skip the advance to camp hazard. the day (and night)i spent at the turtle all kinds of debris was coming down off the lower kautz and kautz ice cliff that would've made unwanted company had you been residing at hazard, one quite large block that even had us worried down low...

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You could always camp the few hundred feet below hazard at the bivy spots taht are more safe. The higher up it is, the more scenic, that is a big plus. I spent an awesome open air night a few hundred feet below camp hazard a few summers ago. Unfortunately a few weeks later I woke up with food poisining and that pretty much ruined that trip cry.gifpitty.gif

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Been up there twice now but been weathered off each time - the last rock outcropping at the base of the Turtle is very comfy and well protected. If the weather is nice, you get shelter on one side of the rock and a great sunset view for dinner on the other. I preferred being halfway up the Turtle though - adequately sheltered and a fair amount higher. Biggest challenge is snow conditions on the approach. We spend most of Sat. postholing our way up the FAN and the Turtle in sloppy slush - hope/plan for well consolidated snow on the approach.

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My brother and I tried the Kautz a few years ago. We made two great camps. The first was on a nice bench on the cleaver not too far above the Fan. Then we trudged up the edge of the Wilson and up the Turtle until we found another nice bench maybe 200' below Camp Hazard.

 

While hiking up the second day, we passed a group coming down from their high camp which had been at approx. 9500'. The bottom of the Turtle give or take. It had taken them so long to get up and down from there that they found themselves in the (in)famous Kautz chute way later than they should have been. Long story short: one of their group broke a leg and had to be heli'd out. I don't think it was conditions, though he said it was really soft coming down, so much as the long day left them so dog-ass tired that they were sloppy working back down the chute and had some bad luck.

 

Some may argue otherwise, but I consider (FWIW) the Kautz a two-day approach route. You just want to get as far up the Turtle as you can and start from there so you don't get stuck in the chute too late in the day coming back down. Trying to get up high in one day is just...blah. Sometimes the chute isn't that bad, other times it can slow you down. It's hard to say until you get there.

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Consider approaching from Christine Falls TH, and on via Comet Falls, Van Trump Park, and the remnants of the Van Trump Glacier. This approach will pop you out right at the base of The Turtle Snowfield and some fine camping. The extra elevation gain is not significant when you consider the gain/loss equation of crossing the Nisqually twice from Paradise.

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The extra elevation gain is not significant when you consider the gain/loss equation of crossing the Nisqually twice from Paradise.

 

Not to mention the general pain in the ass factor of crossing the nisqually once it gets broken. If I try this route again I'll definitely look into the approach you recommend.

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I did a day trip from Christine Falls to Camp Hazard a couple years ago, for a 7700 foot day. It was early June, and we were on foot...but I remember thinking what a beautiful ski it would be! The Van Trump is a nice, smooth, slightly concave basin that would be worth multiple climb up/ski down cycles. Higher up, The Turtle was typical sastrugi that would have made grated cheese out of a novice like me.

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Not to mention the general pain in the ass factor of crossing the nisqually once it gets broken. If I try this route again I'll definitely look into the approach you recommend.

 

Not to mention the general pain in the ass factor of dealing with Paradise smirk.gif

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Earlier this year, a pal of mine and I tried the Fuhrer finger. Made a pretty good go of it; same basic approach as what you're going to do. I've been up to do the Kautz twice, and summitted neither time, but the lower Turtle camp option that people talk of (about 9200 feet in Gauthier's book?) seems like the best option, in retrospect.

If it's going to be a warm day, make sure you leave extra early (for both the approach day and the summit day), and take your time. I'd leave at midnight for both.

 

There's variables there to consider, and again, in retrospect, I think I might have done our climb this year differently. I, too, wanted to hang out and enjoy the mountain another day, and take my time, but the weather window closed earlier than expected, and it screwed us out of summitting. Just pick your priorities....if it is super important to you to summit, and the weather is looking good the second night, that you're up (when you're at the Turtle), leave early, get on with it, enjoy yourself afterward. If it doesn't matter to you, like Ivan said, take your time getting up, feel the altitude less, and have less suffering.

 

Sorry about the common sense chat...I've just had time to think about what I would've done differently. At any rate, any day on Rainier is a good one.

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Here is a picture I took in 1995. The icecliff is above and Hazard is just above and to the right. This as an area you dont want to hang around in for very long. We are actually returning from the summit and climbing back up the gully to Camp Hazard after traversing out of the chute. The kid in the yellow pants is my (much!) younger brother--a fellow cc.com'er who shall remain unnamed. This was his first climb of Rainier. (at age 14!) I chose this route for his first Rainier climb because of it's moderately crevassed nature, but it turned out to be quite icy and some front-pointing was required going up and coming down the chute.869web034.jpg

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Thanks for all the advice. I leave for Rainier on Friday, but the weather is looking pretty shitty so who knows what we'll get accomplished. Might have to settle for the Ingraham. At any rate, it will be fun, maybe I'll see some of you guys out there. Thanks again!

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I did the Kautz in mid-July of 2002. We found that camping about 1K below camp Hazard both easy going on the first day and allowing for a good position on the summit day. We took a siesta day there --- very relaxing and good for acclimatization. From there we departed about 1 am (at the latest) and quite literally jogged through the icefall. If it is warm (as it was in July) MOVE through the icefall, summit early and get down early. We descended through the icefall around 10am, enjoying great 55 degree AI in the gully.

 

cheers.

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i know everyone's concerned about mucking 'round w/ the icefall on the kautz, so a reminder of this thread: http://www.cascadeclimbers.com/threadz/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/192374/page/11/view/collapsed/sb/5/o/all/fpart/1 from last year...there is a safer shortcut involving rappeling/downclimbing on a fixed line/anchor so you can skip part of the traverse under the cliff

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I climbed the kautz last june, a few hundred feet below the turtle first night, camp hazard second night. There is another campsite area on a ridge probably two hours above camp hazard, it is exposed and high but if the weather forcast looks good it would be an interesting place to camp. it is on the top of the ridge that separates the upper nisqually from the kautz, with pt. sucess on your left and the last big stretch of glacier to the summit on you right. Not a place you'd want to be in a storm though.

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When we did it last June we went from paradise to the camp below hazard on the first day, then from that camp to the summit and carried over to descend the ingraham the next day for a total of about 16 hours of climbing and a lot of lounging. Shazam, next time I do it it will be without bivy gear, sub-14 hours. Mark my word!

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