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updated climbing conditions...


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Reported Route Conditions as of April 26, 2002:

NPS Climbing Rangers were able to conduct helicopter training flights and mountain reconnaissance this week. The observations of independent climbers and climbing rangers provide further information about specific routes out of Camp Muir. If no report is listed, then we have no information to share.



· Overall, the upper mountain climbing conditions on Rainier appear excellent from aerial observation. Though there is a significant amount of snow pack (above average) between 3,000 and 8,000 feet, the upper mountain appears to have a more normal snowpack this year. High camps such as Camp Schurman and Camp Muir are melting out rapidly; huts and outhouses are easily accessible.

· Though we have no reported ascents of Ptarmigan Ridge, Liberty Ridge, Emmons/Winthrop Glacier, Kautz Glacier, Fuhrer Finger, Success Cleaver, and Tahoma Glacier, the routes appear (from the air) to be in great shape. Due to the heavy snowfall this winter, crevasse fields and icefalls on the main climbing glaciers (Carbon, Inter, Emmons, Tahoma, Kautz, Nisqually, and Ingraham) appear easy to navigate. The steeper sections of routes like Liberty Ridge, Sunset Ridge, Ptarmigan Ridge and Kautz Glacier, also look great (for the alpinist that likes some ice). It appears as though the mountain has been the subject of intense wind this spring and winter. Ice is visible on the steeper sections of Mowich Face, Sunset Ridge and the Kautz Glacier ice chute. On Liberty Ridge, the Black Pyramid and exit chute out of Thumb Rock high camp also appear quite icy.

· We were able to touch down on a few locations and elevations around the mountain. At all locations, we found an intensely stable/icy snow surface. If the wind hasn’t blown the loose snow away, solar radiation from the previous week of great weather has melted and refrozen the surface daily. These conditions are subject to change with the weather.

Disappointment Cleaver (D.C)

· No one has summited via the DC this winter or spring; therefore, no route reports are available. It should be noted, however, that most climbing teams ascend the Ingraham Glacier Direct during the winter and spring. This variation of the DC route is generally more direct an attractive to climbers during the early season.

Ingraham Glacier Direct

· There have been a few ascents of the Ingraham Glacier this winter/spring. Teams reported good (i.e. straightforward) climbing conditions. One team did experience a few minor crevasse falls on the Ingraham Glacier so be careful. Ensure that your team is roped up and communicating well to avoid these hazards.

Gibraltar Ledges

· There have been numerous ascents of the Gibraltar Ledges route this winter/spring. Those parties have reported excellent climbing conditions. From Camp Muir to 11,600 ft (the base of Gib Ledges), recent teams have found hard styrofoam and packed snow. The snow conditions on the Cowlitz Cleaver and Cowlitz Glacier are quite firm, especially along the ridge from Camp Muir to the Beehive. It should be noted, however, that the snow on the Gib Ledges is sometimes sugary and unconsolidated despite cold temperatures. Watch your footing, this section of the route is airy. The Gib Chute that exists the Gib Ledges is firm and stable and makes for excellent cramponing on styrofoam. From the top of Gib Chute (Camp Comfort) to the summit, the route finding and crevasse navigation is also straightforward. Again, firm snow (Strasturgi wind sculpted hard packed snow) and few crevasse problems were reported.

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