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catbirdseat

Two rescued from Rainier

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I just heard on the radio that they helicoptered off two men from the 13,000 ft level, one with a broken leg and the other with a broken ankle.

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There seem to be A LOT of slip-and-falls on Rainier so far this year, and it's not even late season yet. I'm just wondering/speculating....has anyone looked at the crampons these folks are/were wearing?? Is the proliferation of lightweight aluminum a factor? I have worn both, and I believe the lightweights are vastly inferior to traditional steel, even on a moderate climb like Rainier. The points are either dull to begin with, or they dull-out during the climb. The points don't hold up to even short transitional stretches of rock such as Cathedral Gap, DC, etc. Some models, like the Grivels, have pretty shallow points. My son was wearing aluminums on Baker last year and had difficulty crossing an icy patch on the Roman Wall, where both myself and the third had no problem with steel. Am I way off base here? Is this worth looking into?

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There seem to be A LOT of slip-and-falls on Rainier so far this year, and its not even late season yet. I'm just wondering/speculating....has anyone looked at the crampons these folks are/were wearing?? Is the proliferation of lightweight aluminum a factor? I have worn both, and I believe the lightweights are vastly inferior to traditional steel, even on a moderate climb like Rainier. The points are either dull to begin with, or they dull-out during the climb. The points don't hold up to even short transitional stretches of rock such as Cathedral Gap, DC, etc. Some models, like the Grivels, have pretty shallow points. My son was wearing aluminums on Baker last year and had difficulty crossing an icy patch on the Roman Wall, where both myself and the third had no problem with steel. Am I way off base here? Is this worth looking into?

 

I agree with you. I was on the Emmons last year w/ Stubais and did not have a warm and fuzzy feeling on the icy patches. In fact I bought steel crampons because of that, which I use for the big volcanos now.

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I think a lot of the stories involving aluminum crampons come from the lightweight boots people pair with them. Yes, they do dull easily and they don't seem like the best choice when seeking out steep snow and ice. They do work much better with a boot suited for the ice.

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The injured climbers were part of a Seattle Mountaineers party led by Doug Smart. Apparently the anchor man of the rope team held the fall and prevented an even worse accident.

 

PI Article

 

I recently bought a pair of aluminum crampons and if you just look at the package instructions, you'll see that they are not recommended for anything other than use on snow.

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i just bought a pair of Air Tech aluminums and was planning to use them this weeekend on the Emmons route...i was figuring a walk-up route with no rock scrambling like the emmons would be the perfect for these things.

 

Any recent reports on snow conditions on the upper mountain? Is it really that icy? With the high freezing level this weekend I was hoping to try skiing the Emmons...guess theres no way to know for sure without just going and taking a look.

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Mike or others in the know, what route were they on? Emmons? Also, if it is that late in the day, sounds like the slip may have occurred from snow balling rather than ice, but that is just a guess being that late in the afternoon. I guess the climber could have been tired and tripped just as well. As for aluminum crampons, how did this even get brought up? I didn't see the article mention they were wearing aluminum crampons. Anyone wanna fill in the blanks? Glad they made it off o.k.

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i just bought a pair of Air Tech aluminums and was planning to use them this weeekend on the Emmons route...i was figuring a walk-up route with no rock scrambling like the emmons would be the perfect for these things.

 

Any recent reports on snow conditions on the upper mountain? Is it really that icy? With the high freezing level this weekend I was hoping to try skiing the Emmons...guess theres no way to know for sure without just going and taking a look.

 

Even with high freezing levels, the Emmons can still be icy in spots.

 

Last year in late June/early July, there was a stretch of water ice just past the schrund... probably around 13,800' - 14,000' or so. Made for an interesting little traverse. I think the topography of the summit in that area makes that section icy from time to time. And this was with freezing levels at 14k. I'm wondering out loud if perhaps the icy spot is back again.

 

My main point is, don't assume soft conditions will be present everywhere just because the freezing level is high.

 

-kurt

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knelson,

 

Agreed. I've actually placed pro to do a running belay on that section several times over the last several years. Sorry, didn't read the article closely enough to see that was the issue and that they were that high up. Glad they were able to arrest on that section!!!

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knelson,

 

Agreed. I've actually placed pro to do a running belay on that section several times over the last several years. Sorry, didn't read the article closely enough to see that was the issue and that they were that high up. Glad they were able to arrest on that section!!!

 

ice screws or pickets? how many pieces did you need to place?

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i know that a high freezing level and exposed ice on the route are completely independant of one another...it can be hot as hell but if there's ice instead of snow, you're still gonna be wanting crampons...or sharp ski edges

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I placed pickets (1) in this section twice when it was steep but found patches of firm snow to get one in (not all the way and tied off) and once with an ice screw in the night on the way up (17cm). No idea if it would have held but may provide enough of a grab to take some of the pull off the rest of a team in case of a fall.

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I camped at Emmons Flats and saw the Mountaineers group leave camp at 12:30 am in high winds. My guess is that they were very very tired. After a big gust snapped a few tent poles at our camp, we decided to go back to sleep. When we left Camp Schurman at 10:30 am they were still on their way to the summit. It looked like they were having route finding issues higher up where recent snows had covered the boot track.

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I climbed the Emmons route last year with the same trip leader. We got to the summit by 7 or 8 am and were back at Shurman by 11:30 am. I think this year's group was slowed down by windy conditions, and perhaps by bad snow conditions. I do know that the PI article has the times wrong; the group descended from the summit at 12:30pm. The 4pm time is actually the time that four of the seven team members descended from the site of the fall, returning to Camp Shurman. The team leader remained with the injured climbers. The injured climbers were each splinted and placed in sleeping bags dug into the steep snow slope, but the leader had only a bivy bag. By 2 am, when the rangers had the injured climbers established in a tent, the team leader was too cold to down climb safely, so he spent the night warming up in the tent with the injured climbers and walked off the mountain after the helicopter removed the injured climbers in the morning. I know that, where the fall occured, there was a weight-bearing icy crust over deep soft snow. This surface crust was not conducive to self arrest; it allowed the climbers to slide but provided little grip for the pick of the ice ax (or the knees) in trying to arrest. Fortunately the low man on the rope that fell got himself well planted and held the whole team. I

suspect that the full length of a dynamic rope is a big help in

stopping this sort of fall; I would also imagine that the impact of the

three falling climbers would come on the rope in sequence, rather than

simultaneously. but I am just guessing. Either way, this was a great

belay. The team members I spoke to were using steel crampons. I

believe that the broken leg was due to catching a crampon. The above

is second hand information, so it may not be entirely correct, but it

is more useful than a bunch of wild guesses. The route up the Emmons this year seems to be a beeline for the crater rim. This is a route that crosses more exposed terrain than last years route, which made a long northerly traverse around to the true summit.

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I climbed as high as the rescue camp on the morning the injured climbers were flown out. Conditions to 12500 were unconsolidated powder snow. After that things started firming up. Near 13000 there was a 1/4 inch layer of rime ice on top of the soft snow which became thicker higher on the route. This was still easily kicked through. At the rescue site (13500) some of the ice was thick enough that it was not penetrated by even several kicks. I understand the climbers to have fallen a bit above this level where it looked like the ice was even more well set in. I had been camped at Schurman for several days previous and it seemed like the high nightly windspeeds combined with the strong daily solar energy were helping to glaze the top of the mountain. Any type of slip or fall would have been very difficult to arrest in those conditions. Props to the anchor man for preventing what could have been a far worse incedent.

Edited by medlin

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Sounds like what I wouldnt have developed in my brain..........

 

Quick question.....>Do You Climb...........?

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Any thoughts on how things might be next week ? We're planning to attempt the Emmons route around Friday next.

 

Thinking now maybe I should take some extra 19cm screws and draws (bringing a second tool for pounding pickets anyway) ... or maybe just a few more pickets ?

Edited by rhyang

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I scheduled up there next week.......LOL

Ill be the gargoyle sitting above the corridor....

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Came across their tent on Sunday right below the bergschrund around 13,500. This was on the way down, and we were hoping to find fuel in the tent since we were out of water and wanted some for the descent. Funny, we had a stove and pot but no fuel. Still trying to figure that oversight out. Altitude can make one forgetful.

 

We had a radio and called our friends at schurman to ask the rangers what the story on the tent was. They said have at it. My partner was too out of it to do anything so as he rested on the dug out tent platform, I ransacked the two bags in the tent.

 

Then I noticed that everything was covered in drops of blood. There were bloody rags, bandaids, and bandages all over. It was obvious that some shit went down. I felt somewhat guilty at the time that someones misfortune would possibly provide our deliverance.

 

The packs were full of warm clothing and sleeping bags and miscellaneous junk. It looked like everything was stuffed in there in a hurry. I found pots and I think a stove but there were no fuel canisters anywhere. Talk about a tease. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

 

So we gave up on melting snow with a stove and decided to melt snow in our nalgenes hanging outside our packs. Then we started to descend. The sun was beating down like mad. This trick worked thank god. We got down okay once we got a little water and descended further.

 

To the owners of the packs that I ransacked: I am sorry for your accident. I tried to find any personal momentos of value in the packs that maybe you would want but only found gear. So its all still up there as far as I know. We only wanted to borrow some fuel to melt snow since we were feeling somewhat desperate at the time.

I wish you all a speedy recovery and hope you gain wisdom from your experience. I know I did from our own climb.

Edited by SemoreJugs

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