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JasonG

[TR] Mt. Rainier- Gib Ledges 12/28/2004

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Climb: Mt. Rainier-Gib Ledges

 

Date of Climb: 12/28/2004

 

Trip Report:

Well, as they often say the "third time's a charm". At least it was for me on my several year quest to climb Mt. Rainier in the wintertime. Even with good forecasts in seasons past, all of my previous attempts had been thwarted by high winds, avalance danger, etc.

 

So, with some time off of work and a great forecast I once again madly tried to convince every climber I knew to join me for a Mon/Tues attempt on the Gib ledges route. Sunday came with no bites, so I enlisted the help of the cc.com to find me a partner, and was not dissapointed. After some last minute phone calls, the plan was set- I would meet OlegV and Justin RR at Paradise at 11am Monday. I had met nor climbed with either, so it truly was a pretty cool feature of the website to be able to plan a climb on such short notice. Plus this would be both Oleg and Justin's first time trying to climb the mountain.

 

Monday morning found us in the Paradise lot, as planned, sorting gear and eyeballing the lenticular sitting over the summit. It was windy, and I was dreading another failed attempt, but I kept my doubts at bay and continued packing. Leaving the cars around noon, we followed the well beaten path to Muir, arriving at about 4pm to cold temps and moderate winds.

 

Melting snow and cooking dinner occupied our exciting evening- we were in bed around 7pm. Up at 3am and away around 4, we were soon breaking trail up the Cowlitz to the start of the ledges. A bit of windslab made us nervous, but not so much so that we thought sticking to the tedious ridge around the beehive would have been better.

 

Crossing the ledges was exposed, exciting, and generally great and secure climbing- as others have said, it is a really fun route. We traveled unroped for speed (there isn't much pro anyways), but didn't see or hear any rockfall (we crossed before the sunrise). I've heard that Gib chute can get really wind-loaded, but yesterday it was firm and icy-perfect cramponing. It was at this point that we were treated to a beautiful but cold winter sunrise-full of color, but not much warmth. Thankfully the winds were rather mild, only 10-20mph.

 

Above Gib Rock, the upper mountain was scoured and icy and generally in perfect climbing shape. Justin started to slow from the altitude and elevation gain and opted to unrope and wait at about 13,500', which was unfortunate, but at least he got to experience all of the actual climbing. Oleg and I hurried upwards, arriving at the crater rim around 10:30am. It was cold (I don't know what the temp was, maybe single digits??) but not too windy (maybe 10-15mph). Due to the shortness of daylight, our partner waiting below, and our general feeling of this is good enough, we opted out of the traverse over to the highest point. We just grabbed a bite to eat, shot a couple of pictures, and marveled at the view. So even though the purists out there will say we didn't climb Mount Rainier, it was good enough for me.

 

Leaving the crater at 11am and reversing our way back to Justin and Gib Rock, we decided to head down the Ingrahm and through Cadaver Gap rather than descend the ledges. Under good snow conditions, I think this would be almost as fast and probably safer, but for us it was a wallowfest. Mostly knee and thigh deep plunging, although at least it was downhill. The icefalll proved a little tricky to negotiate (we headed down the right side), and we had one instance where we did a short rappel off an overhanging lip of a crevasse (an ice horn served as a handy anchor). Cadaver Gap was reached shortly thereafter, and the descent down to the Cowlitz was easy and uneventful (no windloading and perfect plunge stepping).

 

A final slog brought us to Camp Muir about 2:30 pm, where we drank, ate, and packed madly (gotta beat that early winter sunset). Away at 3:30, we were treated to an amazing sunset (bad weather looked to be approaching) on the hike back to Paradise. We arrived at the cars a little after 5pm, just barely avoiding the need for headlamps. All in all a fine adventure with a couple of guys whom I'd never even met the day before. I would definetly reccommend this climb for anyone who is looking for a little wintertime adventure on Rainier. It is fun, direct, and has quite a bit more interest than the more standard slogs.

 

Jason Griffith

 

Gear Notes:

Ice axe, steel crampons (alum. would've worked fine), helmet, 8mm 30m rope. Brought a second tool, didn't use.

 

Approach Notes:

Boot track well established to Muir. Some wallowing to be expected on the Cowlitz and coming down the Ingrahm.

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I'm so proud of you Heinrich! Glad you made it; way to jump in that weather window.

Excellent adventure on N Twin Sister last week, the pictures are beautiful!

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Oops . . . That should be INGRAHAM glacier. Gotta keep things spelled right since Mike is checking in.

 

And to answer your question Mike, I was a little bit confused by the new sleeping arrangements at the shelter. It seems like the bunk space has been reduced (now you sleep parallel to the long wall) and a new door added on the south side (unusable in winter). Is this to make it less crowded/more like the original design?? We didn't have any company in the shelter so it worked out perfect for us. Winter climbing on Rainier would be much tougher without the shelter!

 

One last note . . . We roped up at the start of Gib chute and stayed roped up to the crater and back down to Cadaver Gap. We unroped for a short bit down to the Cowlitz, then roped back up for the walk to Muir. We punched legs through several weak bridges during the day and were real nervous we were on heavily crevassed terrain (snowpack is still pretty meager).

 

Oh, and if you're climbing Rainier in the winter, I found out that a face mask of some sort is pretty key. That wind is cold!

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Great TR Jason! I’d say this trip proofs climbing mountains is all about weather conditions. No complains here. Of cause, more importantly, great partners. I would’ve got lost on the way back - terrains looked somewhat sketchy to me. Can’t wait for the next good weather window to try something more challenging on Rainier. This Nissqually icefall looked interesting and totally undoable.

 

One more thing. Mike, we were a little concern about poor ventilation in the hut. We did see a bunch of holes in the sealing but they were clogged with snow and ice. We did keep a door half way open when we cooked but during the night it was closed. I slept on the upper shelf and smelled a lot of gas in the air. I can imagine during winter storm it is impossible to keep vents clear from snow. What do you think?

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Hey, good job guys... there's nothing better than finally summitting a mountain that's taken several attempts.

 

Oleg - Damn I'm jealous. The next time you ask me if I want to go do something, I'll just call in to work sick!!!!! cry.gif

 

Cheers to all three of you! bigdrink.gif

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I won’t spell check you; I rely on spell check myself.

 

The contractors had to redesign the inside of the hut b/c they needed to put the historically accurate door (on the South side) back in. During the summer, the two doors and roof vents greatly increase ventilation. This new door demanded a change to the interior, which in turn decreased some of the sleeping space. The inside, however, is much more orderly and there are better places to prep gear and cook.

 

As noted, it’s still a struggle to keep things venting in the winter. I feared that those vent tubes wouldn’t work with the snow/ice. Venting has long been a problem, particularly in the winter when no one will cook outside. Keeping the door cracked is the best you can probably do.

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

Oh yeah, the Nisqually Icefall is a great winter route, highly recommended!

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Some pictures from our last trip.

 

At Paradise

6323Paradise-med.jpg

 

Up

6323Muir_Snowfield-med.jpg

 

Approaching Camp Muir at sunset

6323Camp_Muir-med.jpg

 

Gib Rock

6323Gib_Rock-med.jpg

 

Summit

6323summit-med.jpg

 

Jason at the Crater Rim

6323Jason-med.jpg

 

Oleg at Crater Rim

6323Oleg-med.jpg

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you certainly sneaked right into the window of opportunity. I headed up the day you were coming down. not much to write by way of a trip report for me. weather turned for the worse overnight between the 28th and 29th and there was no sense in attempting the summit after all that snow. Congratulations and great TR and pics!

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awesome job guys!!! I'll be venturing down to WA in mid march for two weeks. I'm going to attempt a summit via the Gib chutes/ledges. Your description helped a lot! Hopefully I can get a weather window like yours.

 

I've lived in WA my entire life, and I came up to Alaska to go to college. My goal to climb rainier came after i left the state and started discovering the outdoors of Alaska.

 

Depending on my success on Rainier, I might climb Denali this summer or next.

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I've got a really nice 10.2mm Maxim dry rope, but if I don't have to lug that thing up nearly 10000 feet of Rainier ice and rock, I won't. Would you suggest I get an 8mm rope?

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