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[TR] Mt. Rainier- Fuhrer Finger 4/12/2004

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Climb: Mt. Rainier-Fuhrer Finger


Date of Climb: 4/12/2004


Trip Report:

Had always wanted to do this route; called up to the park, and Mike said that conditions were pretty favorable for giving it a shot. A gent emailed me, saying he would like to head up with me, and after we chatted, I figured we'd make a fine team. The plan was in action.


After working Friday all day, I was to meet him at Paradise in the morning, and by the time we met, the snow was horribly soft, so we made the decision to make a two-day outing of it, leave Saturday night and climb to the 9200ft rock camp, bask in the sun the next day, and head for the summit Monday morning. After the Sandy Headwall outing on Thursday, I was more in the mood to not kill myself, and enjoy the outing.


The approach to camp, through "the fan" approach, was not too bad; snow had hardened more than I had thought, and the night was beautiful. I kept looking up at the route, and became more and more excited each time. We chatted, and took our time; arrived at high camp at 6:30 a.m. A couple of gents on skis passed us en route to the summit on a one-day climb, and ski descent(?) Sounds like that would be fun!


Ate, drank, and slept all day, enjoying the view; warm sun all day. Watched for slides in the hot sun, but nothing came down. We were going to get into the bivy sacks early, get up early, and be on our way by 11:30 or 12 midnight. Well, I must've been tired, because I overslept to 11:10, and by the time we melted some water and broke camp, it was 12:45.


This proved to be a blessing in disguise, because the snow crust was horrible...any earlier than that would've been totally futile. My lightweight frame could tread on top of at least half of it; my unfortunate partner, who's prolly 20 lbs heavier than I , was postholing in every step. I could see that he was taxed, but he didn't complain. It must've been really, really hard work.


We were making horribly slow time, related to the snow conditions; at about 11,150, the snow finally started to harden a bit; just soon enough for me to realize that the stars above us were gone. Uh, oh. We decided to continue up to see how low the cloud cap was, and I judged it to be at about 12,750, because the cleaver to our left was being cut-off by the clouds just above us, and we were at about 12,250.


We bagged it at that time, as we were able to see the cloud more and more as the sky was beginning to gain some light, and it didn't look pretty. We descended the route, happy that we had a chance to do the interesting part of the route (the couloir), and descended the upper Wilson, to the upper Nisqually, to the usual exit ramp that gains you the Muir Snowfield.


Had Guinesses in the parking lot, took pictures of the cloud over the summit, and headed for lunch.


By the way, the Thumb and the Finger, as well as the Wilson Headwall, are in great shape.


Gear Notes:

Standard axe, crampons, glacier travel attire.


Approach Notes:

Really soft snow; Nisqually and Wilson still mostly closed up. With this week's weather conditions, should stay that way for a bit. I'd say that, if you're up for a bit of weaving around crevasses (not too much), the approach directly across the upper Nisqually, to the upper Wilson, is doable. Had I paid attention to what I saw when I was checking out the approach on Saturday, I would've done that, instead. Much shorter than "the fan" approach.

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Thanks for the report.

I can identify with the breakable crust on the Finger; it was knee-deep when we did it, accompanied by a stiff breeze, the gusts of which would knock us into the hill. Exhausting.

Any rocks coming down when you were there?



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No, that's one thing that did go our way. It seemed to be pretty well held together; nothing coming down. I did hear a couple of bits of rockfall, come to think of it, but it wasn't anywhere close.


The cool thing is, it was pretty well set-up, except for the breakable crust; after this next week of weathering, it should get another lease on life, and be in shape a bit longer. I'd really like to do a one-day ascent of it, if the conditions were right. Meaning, I'd want the freezing level lower, so I could start earlier, and finish later. But, as of this point, I think that might be a bit too much to ask cantfocus.gif

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Should be in great shape. I'm not sure how much snow that Hood is getting; you might want to get a good look at the avy conditions before heading up.


It was definitely hardest finding the way down to the Sandy, off of Yocum. After that, straightforward climbing. You'll have a blast.


One thing- it's notorious for icefall. At the time we'd been up there, it was so scoured, and with calm conditions, we hardly saw any. But, now, it might have something on top to rain down on you again, so be careful. Have fun! It's a great day out. Glad I finally got to do it!

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Mr. Radon,

Did you ski the Finger? If so, how was it?


I'm looking to Split-Board it as soon as my climbing partner comes bcak from Holland - early May.



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Yeah, I definitely saw ski tracks when we were in the couloir. You guys must've been the ones passing us on the way up the day before. Looks like you guys had a great time!

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