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[TR] Mt Rainier- Gib Ledges attempt 3/13/2006


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Climb: Mt Rainier-Gib Ledges attempt


Date of Climb: 3/13/2006


Trip Report:

I made it to 12K on Rainier today before calling it quits due to deep snow. I had decided on Sunday to take a solo climb of Gib Ledges. The forecast looked clear but cold: when Alex_Mineev told me of the predicted summit temp of minus 20 F, I wondered if my Cascades clothing would be adequate for a Denali environment. But the predicted temp kept rising on the forecast, then Sunday morning was so fine that about noontime I made a snap decision to go. This put me in the Paradise parking lot at 4:30 and skinning uphill at 5. The air was cold, to be sure, but so still that I hardly felt it. The mountain was so quiet that I could see steam rising from the summit vents.


A few clouds blocked the view until about Pan Point, at which time I rose out of the clouds, the sun set, and the full moon rose to greet me. No headlamp was required for this tour. I kept time by watching the constellations.


The hut was not quite unoccupied: Dan, a visitor from Tennessee by way of Maryland, also had a solo permit. He had climbed in the Alps but had very little familiarity with Rainier. Though he had no glacier travel gear to speak of, which would certainly complicate adding him to one end of my rope, we agreed to climb together in the morning, i.e. in three more hours.


We headed up Cowlitz Cleaver at about 5 AM, soon finding a decent boot track across the upper Cowlitz snowfields. It appears from Alex's posts that these were from his party the day before. As dawn broke and the boot path vanished, leaving us struggling through thigh-deep powder, our uphill pace slowed to the point where it was canceled out by the downhill pace of Rainier's glaciers. But it was not for nothing: I had hauled my skis up, and had a fine descending traverse on pristine powder back to Muir.


In spite of the large volume of new snow, there was no spontaneous avalanche activity to be seen, except that secondary to icefall. Gib Chute looks very heavily loaded from below, but has not avalanched. I did encounter one area of slab formation just beneath Gibraltar Rock, but in general the snow stability seemed better than predicted. Temps on the upper mountain have been very cold and there was no crust to speak of until the lower aspects of the Muir snowfield (in fact, the powder on Muir was the best I've ever encountered there).






Gear Notes:

Skis: definitely handy. No help on the ascent after Muir, but the descent from Gibraltar was the high point of the trip.

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Very well put together TR my friend.


Just a hint.........."Someone" I know is planning on and has a solo permit approval for the 'mowich face'.........Interested?


Its still a solo even within shouting distance...lol

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CBS, I'm sure that staying on the cleaver would have been a better strategy. I was led astray by Alex and Oleg's boot tracks, which appeared to suggest a path of least resistance. The deeper we sank, the more unattainable the cleaver seemed to be.


Do you think you might have had better luck trying to skin up the ID?

Probably. One of the frustrating things about Rainier being so big is that it's harder to retrace your steps and start over. If I'd had another day I might have tried the ID, unless I had given in to temptation and gone up Gib Chute.


I mentioned this idea to Dan, who answered that on Saturday he talked to a woman who had just climbed up the chute, at least part of the way, and skied down. Hmm, I thought, who could this have been? "Did she have short dark hair, and a pierced lip?" I asked. "Yeah! How did you know?" If any of you know anyone fitting this description, be sure you ask her to post a TR.


Seriously, Gib Chute was looking very appealing as a ski. Aside from the impressively narrow neck, it appears to be free of obstacles. Avalanche risk was the big question mark, also the fact that time on the slope exposes you to icefall hazard, which might distract you as you dig out your Rutschblock, not to mention that you can't evaluate all the upper slopes that feed into it, etc. etc. Calculating risk in cases like these is difficult.


Sky if you had been along we could have left the Paradise lot at 8 PM, gone straight to the summit via the chute, and might have a different tale to tell. cool.gif

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Whew! I was worried about that dude staying overnight on Sunday. One of the guys I skied with on Sunday talked with him and had to help him fix his stove so that it would start. He seemed a bit inexperienced, but what do I know. Next time I'm up there I'm going to ski Gib Chute as the tracks that said female skied looked super sweet. If I get my film developed soon I'll post a pic of the tracks she left.

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Unfortunately I didn't ski any of the Chute. I just skinned to Muir for exercise, and once I got there I decided to carry my skis up to the top of the little ridge that angles left from Muir (maybe 2-300 feet higher than camp).


What I skied down was the slope between the aforementioned ridge and Cowlitz Cleaver. It was the best snow I encountered that day! The upper mountain did look fucking amazing for skiing, and I was truly bummed that I wasn't in position to do it.

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