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Kraken

Plane crash on Kautz Glacier?

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While crossing the terminal moraine of the Kautz Glacier a few days ago (both on the way up and on the way down), I came across several pieces of shredded and maligned industrial grade metal on and in the glacier.

 

I saw one on the way up about the size of a football and thought it may have been an old anchor of sorts, possibly an old dead man anchor.

 

On the way down, I found several other pieces. I stopped and picked one up, it was roughly the same size as the last piece. I noticed it had divots and bolts in it and seemed like the wrong type of metal to be an anchor for climbing. I found several other pieces along the way, all of them bent, twisted, and seemingly torn apart.

 

I then spotted a large piece of metal probably 200 feet away which resembled a frame of some sorts. It was probably about 5 feet high (from what I could see above a large rock) and had some sort of orange paint or something on it.

 

I also saw several tiny pieces of the same metal ranging from the size of a finger to a fist.

 

I know a few planes have crashed on Rainier, I just wasn't sure if one crashed on the Kautz.

 

Has anyone else seen this type of stuff or does anyone know anything about this?

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Thanks for the links AlpinFox. I have heard of the Tahoma crash before, but am still puzzled since the Kautz and Tahoma glaciers are seperated by quite some distance.

 

No, the stuff I found on the lower Kautz has to be something different. I still remain confused.

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There was a twin engine Cessna that crashed on the Kautz in the early '80's. If I remember right, they were pro rodeo folks, transiting between rodeos. I think they flew off most of the crash debris off with a large chopper, but there was likely some stuff that was missed...that's been floating in the ice towards the terminus of the glacier since then.

 

Think it was an August storm...and they were flying in the clouds and crashed upon impact. Some people that I know were hired to clean up the site and carry personal belongings down to Paradise.

 

That's my best recollection of the event. Didn't make any notes...and the details are fuzzy.

 

Perhaps the debris you found was from this crash. I'm not sure if there were other crashes on the Kautz??

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I remember reading about a small plane that landed on the summit icecap then couldn't take off again. It was presumed to be in the steam caves somewhere, but given that the Kautz originates on the summit more or less, maybe the plane has made its way downhill inside the glacier. I think the details are in Molenaar's book. I'm at work (otherwise I'd be too embarrassed to post on a Saturday afternoon) so I can't look it up right now.

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Norman, while that's possible, I doubt the glacier would have brought the plane from the top of the mountain to the bottom in only about 20 years. Good theory though.

 

TreknClime, your information sounds correct.

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A plane carrying four Pendleton cowboys to a rodeo in Penoka, Alberta crashed into Mt. Rainier near the Kautz Glacier on July 4,1990, of course killing all four and their pilot.

Edited by tread_tramp

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Good work there, TT, looking up the details of that Kautz crash.

 

There were a couple of other plane crashes...

 

I think the one in Molenaar's book...talks about the single engine that landed between Liberty Cap and the Rim...and couldn't get started. The pilot pushed the plane down the slope, and glided...with a landing on Mowich Lake (it was winter time). Pretty gutsy effort.

 

There was also a plane that crashed into the crater, but I don't remember when. It hung down in some of the summit ice caves, and it was possible to see some of the parts and debris when caving for a few years. Haven't been look'in for the wreckage for awhile, but I'm guessing it could be found with some effort. If I remember right, it was on the E to SE side of the E crater (quite close to where the DC route typically comes up {a tad north of there}).

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Good work there, TT, looking up the details of that Kautz crash.

 

I'd just climbed the Fuher Finger route about a week before that incident so it caught my attention when it happened.

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Clintoris, I assume you saw this wreckage while attempting the Kuatz Route from Paradise the other day per your TR. I would point out that you were nowhere near the 'terminal moraine' of the Kautz. You are probably referring to either the lower Nisqually Glacier that you crossed on your way over to The Fan, or, maybe, the edge of the remnant VanTrump Glacier which lies south-and-west of The Turtle snowfield. A proper description of physical features would likely aid rangers in locating this wreckage. Did you get any pictures of it?

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no, but it's on the basic route straight off of the Glacier Vista paved trail down to the Fan across the Nisqually.

 

I misnamed the glaciers, my bad. There were multiple pieces located.

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That's right where we collected several pieces of a plane crash several years ago when I worked at Mt Rainier. Apparently a T33 trainer crashed in that area in 1968. Pieces of the jet would become exposed through the years. We took out part of a wing that said US AirForce, among other parts. With things melting out early this year, I bet you have found some more of that military jet. It was on the Nisqually before you head up the fan.

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I remember reading about a small plane that landed on the summit icecap then couldn't take off again. It was presumed to be in the steam caves somewhere, but given that the Kautz originates on the summit more or less, maybe the plane has made its way downhill inside the glacier. I think the details are in Molenaar's book. I'm at work (otherwise I'd be too embarrassed to post on a Saturday afternoon) so I can't look it up right now.

 

The ultralight that crashed on the summit (in the east crater) COULDN'T make it into/onto any of the glaciers. Without a significant change in the topography of the mountain, that plane will stay inside the crater forever.

 

We looked for it a few years back but couldn't find it. Expected to find it in the 'bird room' but saw no trace of it the couple of hours we were in there.

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Hmm... this is interesting. On June 18th, 2004 we found some broken-up, riveted aluminum pieces along with plexiglass near our camp. We were climbing the Kautz the following day and our camp was located at about 10,500 - just off the Turtle snowfield and below camp Hazard. So I guess we were right above the Van Trump glaciers and right between the Kautz and Wilson glaciers on the Wapowety Cleaver. Anyway, if I recall correctly, the aluminum pieces were painted dark green on one side. The machining of the aluminum definitely had me thinking, "aircraft" though I'm not 100% sure. Hmmmm...that Mountain sure holds its mysteries.

 

-DTS

 

Our camp: Wapowety Cleaver camp

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We were on the Kautz in July of 2004. We camped at the Waypowty Cleaver camp as well. We too saw all the green pieces of riveted aluminum scattered among the rocks. (We also saw blue bags scattered among the rocks but thats another story.) The stuff looked pretty old. I doubt it was pieces of a Cessna (who's ever seen a green cessna?). It seems more likely that this was the from the 1968 crash.

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Reviving and OLD thread here...For what it's worth last weekend I found a round aluminum tube (1 1/4" X 2 feet long, twisted and shredded on each end) just below the terminus of the nisqually glacier. I immediately though it could be plane debris.

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Old school mountaineers have used aluminum conduit tubing (like what TMO described above) for snow stakes and cheap leave-behind rap anchors.

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