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Pandora

[TR] Mount Rainier- Tahoma Glacier 7/3/2004

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Climb: Mount Rainier-Tahoma Glacier

 

Date of Climb: 7/3/2004

 

Trip Report:

It seems I’ve set a precedent of writing TR’s only when I fail, so it might surprise you that I occasionally succeed. Also rare (since my discovery of this site) is a trip with my dad. Luckily the two happened simultaneously this weekend. Here is the story.

 

The Tahoma Glacier had been on the list for some time, and we had our itinerary down: hike the West Side Road to the Tahoma Creek trail, follow it to Emerald Ridge and camp near Glacier Island. Next day climb to around 10,000 feet on the glacier for our second night.. Finally, a carryover climb to the summit and down the DC to the car we’d left at Paradise.

 

Despite a fairly early wakeup, we didn’t get going on the trail until nearly 1 pm. There’s just something about starting well below tree line that makes a Rainier climb that much more enjoyable. Along the way we were passed by Gator and friend Rebecca on their way to Pyramid Peak. I thought it was fitting that after trying to get ahold of the guy for months, when I finally see him, it’s on the trail yellaf.gif.

 

Almost to camp:

 

5292100_0481-med.JPG

 

 

Four hours of hiking put us around 6,000 feet at the very end of Emerald Ridge, where we decided to camp on a dirty snow patch. In the morning we would have to drop down to the best access point at 5,600 feet, so we were essentially going to climb the glacier in its entirety! It was gray and cloudy, though every now and then the clouds would separate to reveal dazzling glaciers and ruddy rock. A team of three descended past, having turned back at 12,500 that day after one dude’s crampon blew out. A group of goats liked the area enough to camp near us.

 

View from first night's camp:

 

5292100_0487-med.JPG

 

 

 

I told my dad that I wanted to start up the glacier no later than 6:00 the next day, having heard about nightmare posthole conditions (though they don’t call me the posthole machine for nothin’ wink.gif). We left at 8:15 AM. This is when I realized that the climb was going to require more patience than I am used to exercising.

 

 

Letting Dad lead:

 

5292100_0497-med.JPG

 

Funny seracs:

 

5292100_0500-med.JPG

 

We were quickly above the clouds and into blazing sunlight. There were tracks from the previous team, but they had traveled the far right side of the glacier. The line up the middle I had planned the previous night appeared more direct and would be more “fun” (right, Dad?). Routefinding was quite straightforward until about 8,000 feet, when a bit more thought was required. I even let Dad take the lead for a while! The crevasse crossings consisted of either a big step or a short end-run; no sketchy snowbridges yet. Snow was increasingly wet but not super soft.

 

Eventually we could see tracks from the Puyallup Cleaver drop onto the glacier and continue up. I aimed for those across a mostly smooth slope.. After a bit I could tell that we might have a problem getting over to the main route. Above and to the right was a maze of seracs, and to the left was a dropoff blocking progress. I peeked over the edge and groaned when I saw crumbling ice towers and disintegrating snowbridges. One looked like it might span the gap, but when I ventured towards it and the edge fell away I decided it wasn’t worth trying. Here we reversed leads to examine some tracks that appeared to lead into the serac jumble. The marks abruptly disappeared, but we were able to link smooth sections between crevasses heading down and left. It was late afternoon now, past time to be playing on a glacier. I pointed out a spot and told my dad we should camp there. After thorough probing for crevasses we put up the tent at 10, 200 feet.

 

Dad throwing in a picket to protect this loose-snow section:

 

5292100_0505-med.JPG

 

While melting snow my dad informed me that we were nearly out of gas. I began stuffing snow into bottles and whatever else I could get my hands on to take advantage of the sun’s warmth. The stove suddenly died and I stared at my dad through my glacier glasses, wondering why the hell he had to make things so difficult. Not enough fuel?? What a rookie mistake. Wait, no, rookies would probably take too much! At least they would be able to cook their dinners. I resigned myself to crackers and chocolate for the evening meal. A couple hours later my dad attempted to get the stove going again. Incredibly he made the thing run on fumes long enough to get water boiling, and we were able to share a freeze dried meal.

 

10,200 foot camp on the glacier:

 

5292100_0509-med.JPG

 

 

Midnight was the wakeup time, and we were asleep by 9 PM. I woke before the alarm and started chowing some facon. Breaking camp in the middle of the night usually isn’t fun, but we tried to hurry and were lucky enough to have fairly warm temps (in the upper 20’s) and very little wind. We headed for the summit at 1:15, following tracks that would appear and disappear without warning. Having my dad out front was frustrating for me, because he’d say “I think I see the tracks ahead…” while going in the direction opposite of where I thought we should aim. Finally I felt we were on the right route and could enjoy our position a bit. Dark gaping holes lurked in the shadows beyond my headlamp and I knew I couldn’t let my guard down.

 

Dad finally relinquished the lead and I took off up the slope, walking up on a good crust. The rope kept tugging at my waist and I looked down at my dad wallowing in knee-deep snow. I dropped through in places, but every step was misery for him. The search for firm snow was on!. From about 11,500 to 12,000 these conditions persisted, which doesn’t sound like much, but it was killing our time. The sky began to lighten. We ran into nice steps after that point and I began to really have fun. Then I heard a roaring sound that quickly increased in loudness and I turned to see a billowing cloud roar off the Sunset Amphitheater Ice Cap. It dissipated but the icefall debris kept coming. My dad and I watched openmouthed as it poured down the slope to the left and below us. There was a team of four behind us who must have gotten a killer show.

 

These views never get old:

 

5292100_0511-med.JPG

 

The last obstacle was the bergschrund, which the previous team had crossed via a high step onto the overhanging lip. I looked at it but thought there was a better way, so my dad headed left and found a good way through. After that it was mostly smooth sailing, though Dad was tiring. The wind was increasing and we weren’t moving fast enough for me to stay warm. I saw at least one climber on top of Liberty Cap and wished to be in the sunshine like they were. I took the lead and went as fast as my dad would allow, and we climbed onto a plateau from which the true summit was straight ahead. It wasn’t far, and I told my dad “Let’s go!” We pressed on and the last few steps to the top were the sweetest I’ve ever taken. The view from the top was clear in every direction. This was #13 for me, but was like summiting for the first time. We made a beeline for register rock, where I signed for NOLSe’s tent. Somehow it made the true summit while he hasn’t yellaf.gifyellaf.gif.

 

The descent was in good, straightforward shape. Snow was soft enough to pull the crampons at the top of the Disappointment Cleaver. While we were stopped here a team of five (still wearing their spikes) slowly descended past, stumbling with alarming frequency. While we were glad they were below us on the Cleaver, it meant we had a lot of time to kill since my dad was reluctant to pass them anywhere on it. Sitting around in the baking sun on a pile of choss is not my idea of fun (well…sometimes). To make things worse we had run out of water and food, so I was about to push somebody into a crevasse. After about an hour of intermittent descent and waiting periods, we were able to pass them on the Ingraham Glacier, where my dad stopped and pointed out that if one of them were to drop in a crevasse, those coils they were each carrying (one had the rope wound around his hand!) would mean a much farther fall. They reluctantly stretched the rope out and we raced down as visions of cheese pizza and Tagalongs ice cream filled my head.

 

 

Gear Notes:

A picket each, no screws, standard glacier gear

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We made a beeline for register rock, where I signed for NOLSe’s tent. Somehow it made the true summit while he hasn’t.

 

Last time I checked rainier doesn't have any climbing routes on it... unless you think hiking at altitude is climbing... hahaha.gif

 

Good work boss and captain tim!

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Hell, yea...#13. Good job, Hannah! Man, I gotta quit workin', and start climbin' morebigdrink.gif

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What is your estimate of how long this route will be "in". (The 'normal' portion up from Puyallup Cleaver, that is.) I've got the last two weeks of July off...think it will hold? Any key bridges about to go? How did the sickle look?

 

Thanks!

 

Nice climb.

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Four of us (Mark B., Teresa, Mark S. & I) climbed the Tahoma Glacier via the Pullallup Cleaver with entry onto the Tahoma at lower St. Andrews Rock over 7/9-7/12. Conditions are still much the same as Pandora reported; however, some of the bridges in the mid-10,000 range are getting pretty sketchy.

We descended the same route.

 

Mark S. anticipating the crossing, Mark B & Teresa coming up:

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The Tahoma at the entrance from lower St Andrews Rock (our tracks are visible - photo taken on the descent)

site1075.jpg

 

Oh yah, conditions suck for skiing it now...

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What is your fathers age?? It's pretty cool you can climb with him. My children were never interested in this activity so we did not get the opportunity to climb together. Iam hoping one of my grand children will be interested.

 

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