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snowball

[TR] Mt Rainier- Emmons Glacier 7/17/2005

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Climb: Mt Rainier-Emmons Glacier

 

Date of Climb: 7/17/2005

 

Trip Report:

 

Arrival Day

14 July 2005, Thursday:

 

Drove to Seattle Airport to pick up my new climbing partner for Rainier, Jerry from New England! We are climbing as a 2 person team.

 

 

Skills Day

15 July 2005, Friday:

 

Drove to Rainier, parked at the White River Campground, hiked up over St. Elmos Pass, and stopped at the start of the Winthrop Glacier. I knew Jerry was an experienced New England ice climber and experienced cascade climber, but for safety reasons we spent an hour reviewing crevasse rescue since we had never climbed together before... just to make sure we were on the same page.

 

We roped up and Jerry pulled with full force on the rope, simulating his fall into an crevasse, while on the other end i jumped into self-arrest. From self-arrest, proceeded to transfer the load to an anchor. I disconnected a fluke from my harness, plunged it into the snow with my right hand, and clipped its carabiner to the free-end of the foot prussik (the other end is already attached to the climbing rope between me and Jerry). The primary anchor is set. I slowly get up from self-arrest as the load begins to transfer from my harness to the fluke. It see that its holding... i back it up.

 

Okay Jerry, your turn! We swap roles. In one scenario, Jerry jumps into self-arrest and sets a picket as the primary anchor. In another scenario, he jumps into self-arrest and sets a fluke. We also review our rescue pulley systems. Jerry is familiar with the Z-pulley. I express my preference for using a c-z pulley because of its considerable mechanical advantage. After reviewing the systems, we begin to cut accross the Winthrop Glacier and review glacier travel. 40ft of rope between us. Stay in my tracks, please. Lets keep the slack out of the rope, please. It starts to rain, softening the snow bridges. Jerry falls into "small" crevasse up to his knee. I have him tight from a standing position. Clouds envelop the glacier. Visibility is about 100 yards. Seeing its no longer safe to proceed for the night, we back track from halfway across the glacier to an icy moraine island. At the camp, Jerry puts me on belay as i probe a "safe perimeter" for our camp.

 

 

Approach Day

16 July 2005, Saturday:

 

We rope up to get off the Winthrop Glacier, unrope as we hike back to St Elmos Pass, then rope up for the Inter Glacier. Its foggy on the way up, but a decent boot track winds through the minor crevasses that spot the glacier. At Curtis Camp, its windy so i put on my shell. We descend the rocky trail down to the Emmons Glacier. We remained roped-up for this traverse/descent, but in retrospect it would have been wiser to unrope, since a fall by either one of us would undoubtedly rip the other climber off the trail and onto the Emmons glacier as well. WoW! The views... the clouds intermittently float accross the landscape hiding Little Tahoma Peak, then hiding the Emmons, then revealing Little Tahoma, then hiding it again... I snapped a few shots. I cant resist. I am sucker for photographs, even bad ones. We arrive at Camp Schurman, stop at the ranger cabin, and ask if there is any room left at Camp Schurman. "No, Emmons Flat is full too. You have to camp on the Winthrop." Whatever!

 

I drop my pack. I U-N-C-L-I-P T-H-E R-O-P-E, and drop my end of the rescue coil. I use the facilities (hey, i dont want to use those blue bags). I R-E-C-L-I-P T-H-E R-O-P-E, check the biner, re-clip the waist-prussik, stuff the free-end of the foot-prussik into my pocket, i look at my pack-tether and biner, and decide that i dont need to clip it to my harness since we are just going up the hill to Emmons Flat. Okay Jerry, ready? I see him look at the rope, everything is still clipped since he did not unrope as i just did. Yep! Lets go... "Okay guys, see ya later" i tell the rangers. We leave Camp Schurman and start the 10 minute, wanded walk up to Emmons Flat. Boy! A million boot tracks between Schurman and the Flats. Boy! Looks like fun up there at the Flats, people unroped, walking around, womens laughter. Jerry, you good back there? "Yeah." I turn around and see some slack, more than i like. I keep walking...

 

i am now falling... "F A L L I N G!" God! I stopped. My boots are hanging in mid-air. I am in a deep crevasse, about 5ft wide, blue ice walls, pure bottomless blackness far below.

 

I have fallen approx 10ft (about 4 feet above my head is the hole i just created in the glacier). I am wedged in the snowy upper-section of the crevasse. "SET THE ANCHOR! SET THE ANCHOR! JERRY, SET THE DAMN ANCHOR! DID YOU HEAR ME? SET THE ANCHOR!" My right hand is high above my head still holding onto the top of my ice axe, which is plunged into the snow/ice, but i can see the bottom of the ice axe poking out through the bottom of the snow/ice, then there is nothing. These are sights climbers do not want to see. The rope is tight, but i know i am holding some of my own weight since my hand is holding me too. My hand is slipping, i cant keep holding, its too much weight, my hand is slipping, my wrist loop is not tight, i cannot hold anymore. "JERRY, IS THE ANCHOR SET" No reply. What the f* is going on?! My hand slips off the ice axe, which remains plunged in the snow far above me.

 

"F A L L I N G!" I fall sideways and down. "DAMN IT" I reach out to the sides but nothing helps, i am falling. My boots skate against the walls. I stop.

 

I have fallen another 15 ft. "JERRY SET THE ANCHOR!" No reply. I am now 100% hanging on the rope. I look at my harness instinctively. Is it rope clipped? Yes. Is the biner locked? Yes. Is the harness double-backed? Yes. My pack is falling off of me. I am tilted somewhat sideways and my pack is almost off my right shoulder. Snow and ice is falling from above. I am getting all wet, i am glad i put on my hard shell at Camp Curtis! Everything is getting wet, wet snow in my face, in my jacket, in my gloves... My pack is slipping. I look for that pack-tether. Is it clipped to my harness? NO! Damn it! Why didnt I clip it at Camp Schurman? Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! I didnt think i would fall into a crevasse. Of course... Who does? I look down. Crap, i am gonna die in a stupid crevasse. So, stupid.

 

"JERRY!" "YES!" i hear Jerry reply from above. "IS THE ANCHOR SET?" "NO! I AM SETTING IT!" "HURRY UP!" I have gotta get off the rope... My right boots fits on a small ice ledge just below me. I manage to get a little bit of weight off the rope, but if that rope goes, i am dead for sure. I look at the rope again. 9.2mm. I will never go out on a glacier with anything thinner. "OKAY, THE ANCHOR IS SET!" "IS IT BACKED UP?" Jerry shows up at the lip of the crevasse, self-belayed with his waist prussik. "YES, I HAVE 3 PIECES IN, SHOULD I PUT ONE MORE IN?" "NO, I NEED YOU TO GET MY ICE AXE. ITS STILL UP THERE." He gets it. "I NEED YOU TO HAUL MY PACK. ITS FALLING OFF ME. DROP ME SOME ROPE WITH A FIGURE-8 ON A BIGHT. I WILL CLIP IT TO THE PACK. YOU CAN THE PULL IT UP. OKAY?" "YES." I get an end of rope tossed down without a knot. "SORRY, I FORGOT TO PUT THE KNOT IN..." My right arm is wedged against the wall, so i am effectively a one-armed person. With my free left hand i tie an overhand on a bight, with a little help from my wedged right hand. I cannot reach the pack-tether, so i unclip my fluke from my harness, clip it to the rope, and clip it to the pack haul loop. "JERRY, PULL UP THE PACK! WAIT, ITS STUCK, I CANT GET MY ARM OUT, OKAY, PULL NOW." Jerry hauls it to the lip but it get stuck there. He ties it off. "THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE OVER HERE. SHOULD I GET THEIR HELP?" "YES!" He leaves.

 

I am still not good hanging here not knowing if i have a solid anchor. My insticts tell me to set anchor. I look around, blue ice everywhere. My ice screw! I unclip it from my harness and toss the orange tip-protector. I hold on to that screw with a hard grip. Cant drop it... I start to screw it at waist height, but i realize it will be too far away to clip to my harness since i am hanging away from the wall. I restart, now screwing it at chest-height. It wont grab! The ice is too hard. Please, go in, please go in... The threads grab the ice and i screw it in 22cm. I clip the screw's biner to my waist prussik. I am safe. I know i am safe. This single ice screw lifted 90% of the panic i was feeling. Now i wanted out! Many minutes pass, i hear voices overhead, then i see Pete! Jerry summoned 2 climber on the Emmons, Pete and Drew, to help out with the rescue.

 

"How are you doing down there?" Pete says. "I am okay. I want to prussik outta here. Can you take my pack out?" Pete pulls the pack but the trekking pole and picket are getting stuck in the lip of the crevasse. He rotates the pack and it comes out! Yay!!!!!! "Pete, how is the anchor up there?" "Good! We have a deadman and your original anchor." I unscrewed the ice screew i just placed, looped my foot loops onto my boots, and started prussiking up the rope. When i got to the lip of the crevasse, i could no longer lift my waist prussik, so i needed help to get over the lip. Pete was there with all smiles. "Here grab my hand." I grab it but i still could not step out. "Here grab my hand with both of your hands, we will just pull you out!" So i grab his left arm with both of my hands and with a huge force, i am pulled right out on top of Pete and the snow!

 

I AM OUT! My second chance!

 

I look across the glacier and i see Pete, Drew, Jerry, and a couple of other people too. I cant believe it. I almost died and now i am out!? I thank all parties especially Jerry. "Hey, David, you know, we dont need to climb this thing. Lets get just get to camp and rest." "Okay, let me just rest and see how i feel then..." We walk another 100 yards and park ourselves without knowing right next to Pete and Drew, my rescuers! Life is good again. We take pictures, set up camp, and have a meal. "You know, i am good to go again. Lets climb..." Went to sleep at 630pm.

 

 

Summit Day

17 July 2005, Sunday:

 

Woke up at 1030pm. All stars, no clouds. Started climbing at midnight. We were the 3rd team to start climbing. Many and many headlamps down below. Cold and windy climbing this morning. Wore my parka for a good amount of the climb. Reached the bergschrund. Bottleneck of people there. Lots of waiting. Set a picket to protect the step through the bergschrund. Lots of breaks. Really slow. Altitude hitting Jerry. Summited at approx 9am. Saw that really old climber who was setting the record for being the oldest person to summit Rainier (82 years old!). Many pictures at summit. Uneventful descent. Lots of soft snow. Returned to camp. Made coffee. Roped up for both the Emmons and Inter Glacier. Ran the rest of the way down to the car (in boots with pack). Jerry arrived shortly thereafter.

 

 

Gear Notes:

2 ice screws, 2 pickets, 2 flukes, 1 60M 9.2mm rope

 

1 picket used to protect bergschrund at 13000ft.

 

Approach Notes:

NOTE:

This was my first fall in a crevasse. The snow that collapsed under my feet looked 100% good. Boot tracks all around. No characteristic slumping of snow to hint of a hidden crevasse. I solo non-glacier climbs all the time, but I will never solo glaciers. Many lessons learned that day. We used 40ft of rope between us, but i will now use 50ft of rope between climbers on a 2-person climbing team. Everyone on team should know how to execute rescue procedures (anchors and pulleys) by themselves even if climbing on multiperson rope team, because that person might be the only person left on top.

 

fruit.gif

 

Photos:

 

Climbers on Interglacier Approach:

171100.jpg

 

Emmons Route and Crevasse Fall Location:

171101.jpg

 

Camp Schurman and Ranger Cabin:

171102.jpg

 

Emmons Glacier and Little Tahoma Peak:

171103.jpg

 

Camp on Emmons Flat and Crevasse Fall Location (photo taken on descent):

171104.jpg

 

My rescuers, Pete (in red), Drew (in foreground), and Jerry (not seen):

171105.jpg

 

First light of dawn:

171106.jpg

 

Daybreak (12000ft):

171107.jpg

 

Approaching the Bergschrund Step (12500ft):

171108.jpg

 

Liberty Cap in background (13000ft):

171109.jpg

 

Teams queue to pass the Bergschrund Step (13000ft):

171110.jpg

 

Bergschrund Step (13000ft):

171111.jpg

 

Jerry (13500ft):

171112.jpg

 

Columbia Crest, Summit Crater (That 82 yr old climber is sitting down in blue parka)(14300ft):

171113.jpg

 

Summit! Me (left) and Jerry (right) (14400ft):

171114.jpg

 

Descent on Crest scree slope (14300ft):

171115.jpg

 

Descent to Emmons Camp (10000ft):

171116.jpg

Edited by snowball

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Thanks y'all.

 

Rob yes, meant to reply...cantfocus.gif still going to Dana Couloir this weekend? I am free this fri, sat, sun. Will give you a ring...

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I was the other climber on the rope. I have to tell you that I had a great time on the climb, and was humbled just a little bit by the sheer bulk of Rainier. While I have climbed multi-pitch WI4 and 5 routes in NE and been up Baker, Shuksan and Athabasca in Canadian Rockies I had never been above 11,000 feet or so before this.

 

This was also the first time I had encountered CROWDS. But it was to be expected and I must admit that I wasn't fer passing other ropes once I got above 12K. So this is what altitude is? Didnt mind the other people though, its part of this type of climb. My attitude is that if I didnt want to see crowds I shouldnt be on that side of the mountain on a Sunday, and to bitch about it out loud was to make an ass of myself, something I heard a lot of from others, unfortunately.

 

My 4th time in the cascades and I have never seen a spell of weather like this before, absolutely cloud-free beautiful summit day.

 

As for the crevase fall, everything Dave said is accurate. You are not just keeping the leader safe but yourself as well- if the crevase is over 40' deep and you dont arrest the fall, shit your going in too! I'm sure 90% of you all know all this crevase stuff backwards and forwards, and are much more familiar with it than I am, but maybe because I'm not as used to moving on glaciers I'm a little more scared/cautious? We saw about a dozen people walk UNROPED within 10' of where Dave went in. They were walking between the flats and Schurman. The crevase was deep enough to kill in an unroped fall.

 

Finally, when Dave went in, once I had held him and built a 3 point anchor (fluke, picket and my axe), I freed myself from the rope and then uncoiled my half of the rope, used a prussick from my harness to the free/unweighted end of the rope and then belayed myself off the same anchor over to the lip. When I got close I got down on my belly and crawled to the edge until I could see in. That was really the first time I could actually hear Dave clearly. The crevasse really swallows up one's voice. Anyway it would have been a good idea if we had established that three "tugs" on the rope would tell the other ropemate that the one who has fallen in is conscious.

 

Thanks again to Pete and Drew.

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AWESOME JOB TO ALL INVOLVED PARTIES! Glad to hear that you guys walked away from this one with a great lesson for both yourself and lot's of others in that area. Good writeup Snowball! thumbs_up.gif

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Jerry!

It was a pleasure climbing with you on Rainier. Mailing you the prints! Looking forward to ice climbing with you in New England this winter. Oh, by the way, that snowball i took from the top of Rainier almost lasted to the parking lot! cry.gif

 

Back to work... yellowsleep.gif

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Fuggedaboudit,

 

Glad to hear that your most recent trip to Rainier was better than your previous one! Sounds like it was more exciting, at least.

 

First time I was on Rainier, I went into a slot to my waist, 100 yards from camp when coming back down to Schurman. While nothing like your experience, it is a humbling experience. Since we were so close to camp, and had just stopped to talk to some friends at the Flats, we were just walking holding coils. Dumb dumb mistake, as the crack was so obvious if you looked the opposite way. Definite learning experience.

 

Glad you had great weather this time.

 

-kurt

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Hey Fuggedaboudit, how was the arresting portion of this rescue? No prob cause you had dialed it in the day before? I am guessing that you were slightly downhill of snowball? I bet you both were pretty stoked about that training day before you went up there, even if you already had that stuff down smooth.

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Cool story dood! kudos for not giving up. thumbs_up.gif

 

yeah, i thought about giving up, but then i thought 'maybe thats not such a great idea...' yellaf.gifyelrotflmao.gif (too funny)

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Hey Fuggedaboudit, how was the arresting portion of this rescue? No prob cause you had dialed it in the day before? I am guessing that you were slightly downhill of snowball? I bet you both were pretty stoked about that training day before you went up there, even if you already had that stuff down smooth.
Actually stopping the fall wasnt to bad, when he went in the rope pulling you forward kinda helps your reaction time. The practice the day before helped, it had been at least two years before that I had simulated this situation. I had never used a fluke before and I will tell you right now it is a lot easier to get in a fluke with one hand than to push a picket down into the snow. Since I was prone over my axe with my left hand firmly on the adze I had to reach down to my right hip with my free hand, remove and set the SMC fluke and then slowly let the weight of Dave onto the fluke via my waist prussic. I then was able to sit up a bit, swing my pack off, pull out a picket (while still on the axe) and get that in (vertical), so it backed up the fluke. Then I took the axe out, plunged it in vertical and used a ti-bloc biner and a sling to make the axe a third piece. Now I had enough slack to escape the rope. Then I stood up and stomped on all three. Then I just about shit myself since I was totally unroped and Dave had just fallen into a crevasse that was totally hidden and there I was stomping on the glacier. So I did a quick figure 8 on a bight with about 10' of slack and clipped in. Then I exhaled, realized that the lip was 25 feet away had to use a second ti-bloc above the knot to re-clip in, then undid the figure 8 and went to the lip. Did that 30 minutes the day before help? YES, especially when I realized that face down with 240lbs pulling at your waist is not the first time to try and figure out how to get a piece in. We had access to a screw, a fluke and a picket each off our harnesses. Yes I feltlike a nerd walking from Schurman to the flats with all that stuff rigged. No I will never feel like a nerd again.

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[Now I had enough slack to escape the rope. Then I stood up and stomped on all three. Then I just about shit myself since I was totally unroped and Dave had just fallen into a crevasse that was totally hidden and there I was stomping on the glacier.

tongue.gif this is great thread. i really appreciate you guys sharing your experience. i know i could certainly stand to brush up on those skills! it obviously paid off that you spent time reviewing them before you proceeded. thumbs_up.gif

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I just added photos! Sorry, no photos from inside the crevasse. It never occurred to me for a second. (no surprise)

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Very encouraging happy ending and totally cool pictures! Looks like a pretty straight forward route. Just imagine all those others that could have fallen in. Especially so close to the bivy area!Strangely enough to say at least it happened to someone who was prepared for it.

Oh, by the way, did you at least carve your name on the walls inside the crevasse? You know , for bragging rights and all.

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Great TR, and very informative, it just helps to drive home the idea of what can happen anytime you are in the hills and to be prepared Thanks

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DAMN! I was one of those idiots walking unroped between the flats and schurman THAT SAME DAY! I hiked up around 4:30 PM to about 11,500 solo to preview the route and see how many people on the flats were planning on climbing sun morning. on the way down I passed a team of 4 and a team of two... Did you pass me? taking pics, red helmet, blue clothing, by myself.

 

I am shitting a brick in retrospect right now. Right before I crossed that crevasse I remeber yelling across to people at camp asking if it was safe to go unroped where the boot track was. What a stupid question in retrospect. Stupid stupid stupid. Thank God the mountain had mercy on my lack of respect!

 

PLEASE TELL ME WHAT TIME YOU FELL IN! I wont be able to sleep until I find out.

 

f'ing a.

 

Oh and amazing, inspirational, write-up. 5 stars! Gonna post my own mini-epics from the mountain on that weekend soon!!!

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DAMN! I was one of those idiots walking unroped between the flats and schurman THAT SAME DAY! I hiked up around 4:30 PM to about 11,500 solo to preview the route and see how many people on the flats were planning on climbing sun morning. on the way down I passed a team of 4 and a team of two... Did you pass me? taking pics, red helmet, blue clothing, by myself.

 

I am shitting a brick in retrospect right now. Right before I crossed that crevasse I remeber yelling across to people at camp asking if it was safe to go unroped where the boot track was. What a stupid question in retrospect. Stupid stupid stupid. Thank God the mountain had mercy on my lack of respect!

 

PLEASE TELL ME WHAT TIME YOU FELL IN! I wont be able to sleep until I find out.

 

f'ing a.

 

Oh and amazing, inspirational, write-up. 5 stars! Gonna post my own mini-epics from the mountain on that weekend soon!!!

 

SJ

 

It happened between 4pm and 5pm. Jerry and I saw you. You were descending by yourself from Emmons Flat and were walking about 20ft from that crevasse! I had just come out of the crevasse, Pete and Drew had just started heading back to camp, and Jerry and I were just putting on our packs to find a camp site on the Emmons. When we saw you unroped walking in the boot tracks, we both told to you to move away from the hole. If that wasn't you, then it was some other lucky soul on the roulette wheel. hellno3d.gif Like to hear your story...

 

yellowsleep.gif

Edited by snowball

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Wow! Nice write up. I was camped with my party of four at the highest site at Emmons Flats (blue and yellow tent to 30ft the left of the boot tracks). We noticed a whole lot of commotion around the area where your described the fall took place, however, we thought people were just practicing CR! Shortly after that, a member of our own party walked down to use the facilities at Shurman un-roped. Our pre-caution was that he took a radio with him. How silly. What a lesson!

 

Check our my own trip report at

 

http://www.chubbyhiker.com/emmons/

 

Cheers

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Hi Fat Squirrel! Cool TR and pix from your climb! Way to stay another day to give it a 2nd shot! I recalling seeing you all up there as well as your camp. Looks like your team was having a blast. Were you the ones living high with the charcoal BBQ, lounge chairs, and prayer flags? Hehehe...

cheeburga_ron.gifbigdrink.gif(10-shot espresso)

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