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doumall

[TR] Mount Rainier - DC Route, Ingram Flats BC 5/19/2008

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Trip: Mount Rainier - DC Route, Ingram Flats BC

 

Date: 5/19/2008

 

Trip Report:

Mt Rainier 14,411’

Disappointment Cleaver Route

Ski from 11,000‘ at Ingram Flats

 

Mount Rainier draws many from afar, across the US and around the world. You are almost assured to run into climbing parties from overseas, which speaks to the popularity of the mountain. Tahoma, its native name, offers more than 10,000 vertical feet of relief, heavily glaciated terrain and seemingly limitless route choices. Very accomplished mountaineers earned their stripes on this peak.

 

Debbie and I opted to climb as a two person party, which requires knowledge of somewhat involved rescue techniques and a large amount of glacier rescue gear. In order to rescue a helpless rope mate who has fallen into a crevasse alone, it is generally accepted that a Z by C pulley system is required to generate enough mechanical advantage to carry out the rescue. You must also set a snow anchor while in self arrest; no easy task. Several other details muddy the waters in a single rescuer situation.

 

Our training involved setting up pulley systems in our living room repeatedly throughout the winter and then several on snow sessions practicing the anchor placement while in self arrest under heavy load. With pickets on your harness at the ready, we found it was actually quite reasonable to perform the anchor placement after some practice. Two pickets with draws, three prussiks, three lockers and three pulleys are required by each climber for the Z by C pulley system.

 

We originally had our sites on the Emmons/Winthrop route, but heavy snow this year in the pacific NW have all but the Paradise trailhead requiring long snow covered road approaches. Many routes start at Paradise. Record high temperatures virtually shut all the routes down due to avalanche danger. Fortunately, the disappointment cleaver route is a pretty safe spring route and therefore was our choice for a summit attempt.

 

Less talk now, more pics. We started at Paradise at 6 pm with a permit to camp on the Muir snowfield to avoid the hoards at Camp Muir. Debbie skinning up:

 

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Muir snowfield, the ascent route to Camp Muir:

 

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The snow was heavily pockmarked with suncups and bootsteps. Many locals make daytrips to Muir and back.

 

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We set camp on the climbers left side of the Muir Snowfield at 7,600’. Heavy winds blew throughout the night, a full moon shined bright. We were treated to a secluded night.

 

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Morning dawned with a somewhat concerning lenticular formation over the summit, a sign of changing weather. Having spent virtually zero time in the Cascades, the weather was somewhat of a mystery to us.

 

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The skin up the snowfield was easy with spectacular views of Adams and Hood:

 

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After a brief stop at stinky and crowded Camp Muir (10,000’), we continued on toward Ingram Flats.

 

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We used Cathedral gap to gain access to the Ingram Glacier.

 

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Looking back at Gibraltar and Cathedral Rocks:

 

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The gap was melted out, so the skis went on the packs.

 

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After cresting ridgeline, we were treated to a view of the lower and upper ingram icefalls and little Tahoma Peak:

 

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We set camp on the flats between opening crevasses in complete isolation, a far cry from sleeping in a stinky hut at Muir.

 

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The weather held through the night and the snow froze. We were clearly spending some karma on this trip.

 

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We slept through the alarm and started a bit late at 5 am. Several guided groups had already made their way onto the cleaver. We made our way over solid snow bridges and through a large serac fall induced avalanche debris field to the base of the steepest section on the route.

 

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The guides set fixed lines through this section, which traverses above cliffs on high 40 degree terrain to reach the ridgeline.

 

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The fixed lines seemed pretty useless to us. Guided groups often have super newbs though who probably grasp this line for dear life.

 

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A brief steep snow slope had us on more solid ground with views of the expansive Emmons Glacier.

 

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We found a few brief class 3 rock sections.

 

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At this point the first of several groups aborting their summit attempt came down past us. They spoke of high winds on the summit dome.

 

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Hmmm… what does high wind mean in the NW? Debbie catches the first up close glimpse of the summit dome.

 

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This route finds a way through most of the crevasse fields. Early season deep snows make this a walkup.

 

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A few snow bridges must be crossed, which in May should be pretty stable.

 

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Upon sighting rock again, you are close. The summit crater is just a few hundred feet away.

 

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We were surprised with the significance of the summit crater. High volcanoes are so cool, I cant wait to climb more of them.

 

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The guided groups seem content with standing inside the crater without heading over to the true summit. When we asked one of them where the summit was, they replied right here. We thought to ourselves, um, no, this is clearly not the summit buddy. Oh well, off to the top! It’s a good idea to stay roped up on the crossing of the ice filled crater as steam fumaroles can make holes in the seemingly solid snowfield.

 

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Sustained 40 mph winds were annoying but warm. Debbie on top of Washington:

 

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This was a special day for Debbie and I. The act of summiting Rainier was cool, but it paled in comparison to the step we took in our lives together. I snuck a rock on a ring up there and surprised her with the question of all questions. She didn’t see it coming at all, which made it so cool! I love you Debbie, my Fiancée!

 

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After a nice break on the summit with a stunning vista of the Cascades it was time to head down.

 

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The snow bridges up high remained well frozen:

 

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Which was good because these holes have no visible bottom.

 

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Adams and Hood:

 

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The Emmons Glacier with me in the foreground on the DC:

 

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Looking down the Ingram Glacier:

 

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A look at the terrain below the section with fixed lines. Can you spot our tent below Cathedral rocks? Adams on the horizon:

 

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Traveling below teetering seracs is a bit unnerving.

 

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This bridge was getting pretty soft, so we added some additional strands in our safety web.

 

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Camp!

 

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Time to ski out to Paradise:

 

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If you haven’t skied with a 50-60 lbs pack, you’re in for a treat the first time you do it. Debbie did a very impressive job getting down this mountain with her heavy load. I have a feeling if she had a chance to start skiing when she was young she might just whoop my butt down the mountain.

 

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Camp Muir is an impressive array of climber’s shelters.

 

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Debbie skiing the Muir snowfield as weather takes Rainier back under its shroud.

 

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I was waiting this whole trip to watch an icefall occur on the mountain. Just as I had accepted the fact that it wouldn’t happen, the Nisqually Ice Cliff gave birth to a rumbling avalanche of ice, a treat to watch.

 

Rainier rolled over pretty easy for us. I can’t wait to get back her really soon and try a more interesting route as well as ski from the top.

 

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We spent some time in Seattle eating seafood and walking the piers, then headed to North Cascades National Park before climbing Mount Baker during the next weather window.

Edited by doumall

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woulda been funnier if she'd said no and bolted and you had to do the descent solo! :P

 

congrats. next time you go up there she gets to tell you you're having a kid.

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I like the picture on the summit with the rope bending in the wind. kinda cool showing what wind does with a rope.

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Proposal at the summit => Its all downhill after that :fahq: .

 

Congrats!! Thats truly romantic. Hope you have a lot of fun times together in the mountains.

 

Good choice to do the peak over three days as well.

 

 

Hmmm… what does high wind mean in the NW? In Colorado, winter mountaineering hardens you against the subzero ambient temps and 50 mph winds. It isn’t as cold or as windy in the Cascades.

 

I'm not so sure about that general statement buddy. I've very limited experience of the winds in Colorado, but did feel the brunt of the winter winds and cold once. And I've had my butt handed to me by nasty winds and cold temps on a few trips around here as well. Looks like you had fairly decent conditions overall on this trip. As more experienced folks around here can attest, things could get pretty nasty here as well if you're in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

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Proposal at the summit => Its all downhill after that :fahq: .

 

Congrats!! Thats truly romantic. Hope you have a lot of fun times together in the mountains.

 

Good choice to do the peak over three days as well.

 

 

Hmmm… what does high wind mean in the NW? In Colorado, winter mountaineering hardens you against the subzero ambient temps and 50 mph winds. It isn’t as cold or as windy in the Cascades.

 

I'm not so sure about that general statement buddy. I've very limited experience of the winds in Colorado, but did feel the brunt of the winter winds and cold once. And I've had my butt handed to me by nasty winds and cold temps on a few trips around here as well. Looks like you had fairly decent conditions overall on this trip. As more experienced folks around here can attest, things could get pretty nasty here as well if you're in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

 

Wasnt trying to flame. Colorado doesnt have any icefields like the Cascades. Each place is really different from the other. I am pretty sure, despite not acutally being there anywhere close to the winter season, that weather in general is harsher in Colorado as far as wind and temperature are concened, a major reason for our horribly unstable snowpack. Not to say you dont get crazy dangerous storms there, 10 degrees and 50 mph winds will kill you too if not prepared and snow fall per hour is far more intense in the Cascades.

 

Beautiful mountains you have out there, now if only you could see them more often :)

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Nice TR, and congratulations! If I could only get my wife up a hill like that...

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Wasnt trying to flame. Each place is really different from the other.
No worries.. may be I took your remark a bit out of context as well :grin: .

 

Good job on Baker as well. Do come back here, and post cool TRs!

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Congrats on the engagement. Wedding on top of Denali?!

 

What did Cadaver Gap and/or Ingraham Direct look like? I'm planning on trying that route June 10th-ish.

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Congrats on the engagement!

 

As a past resident of Colorado and a current resident of Oregon, I would say that the mountain weather in the Cascades is much harsher in general than that of the high 14'ers and even the Tetons. Although temps in the winter are colder, the air is much drier due to location. 20 degree weather in the Cascades feels like 0 degree weather in the Rockies. Temps are the same but the relative humidity makes you feel much colder. Winters are definitely colder in Colorado and drier, which leads to great pow, but we had almost 800inches on Hood this year but more water content in the snow.

 

The spring and summer in CO is like being on a beach compared to weather in the Cascade volcanoes. I would say the engagement def. pulled a few karma points because the weather out here has been miserable almost all spring.

 

Rainier is an awesome mountain. I am glad that y'all were able to experience our back yard. Please come back. Next time head up to the North Cascades for some classic alpine routes!

 

As for wind speeds, we had several storms this past season that brought 100+ mph winds at sea level. The high mountain measuring devices broke in Oregon at 108mph. That is a pretty regular thing out here. http://www.accuweather.com/mt-news-blogs.asp?blog=weathermatrix&partner=accuweather&pgUrl=/mtweb/content/weathermatrix/archives/2006/11/pacnw_100_mph_3.asp

 

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Cadaver Gap looked close to melting out, but was still skiable. The shund looked pretty reasonable to get over. Ingram direct was abandon by the guides due to the previous few days of record temps and reports of crevasses opening up. Looks way more fun than DC though, if you have good routefinding skills Im pretty sure it would go.

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Nice pics, brings back memories.

 

Rainier is probably more serious weather wise than anything in CO having climbed both in the winter.

 

Rainier is 14,400' and you start at sea level(acclimatization wise), CO you start at 7,000'. Ranier makes it's own weather, this winter in one week it snowed 4', 22" in one day.

 

temps can get very low on the summit especially in winter. I've have metal freeze to the skin at 9,000' in winter, with overnight temps of 25 below at that alt. and calculated at 40 below on the summit, not counting any wind chill.

 

Rainier sometimes has high winds, upwards of 70mph and this will be from 13K up. It also has the nasty habit of icing up. It will be nice and warm even in summer and a cold front will hit and the upper 1 to 2K ft will turn to boilerplate ice. Your crampons had better be sharp, even on the walk-ups skilled climbers have died from this cause.

 

Another thing that happens is wind gusts, lost a tent like that. It will be clear blue sky and dead calm, and then above 10k or so a big gust up to about 50mph will abruptly hit for about 30sec. If your climbing up high you'll be forced to the arrest position. Then it will be dead calm again for like 10-15 min, then gust for another 30sec, this can go on for 1/2 the day. It's easy to lose gloves etc.

 

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Awesome report. Love the photos and comments. Really gives one a genuine look at what to expect on this route.

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Congrats on the engagement!

 

As a past resident of Colorado and a current resident of Oregon, I would say that the mountain weather in the Cascades is much harsher in general than that of the high 14'ers and even the Tetons. Although temps in the winter are colder, the air is much drier due to location. 20 degree weather in the Cascades feels like 0 degree weather in the Rockies. Temps are the same but the relative humidity makes you feel much colder. Winters are definitely colder in Colorado and drier, which leads to great pow, but we had almost 800inches on Hood this year but more water content in the snow.

 

The spring and summer in CO is like being on a beach compared to weather in the Cascade volcanoes. I would say the engagement def. pulled a few karma points because the weather out here has been miserable almost all spring.

 

Rainier is an awesome mountain. I am glad that y'all were able to experience our back yard. Please come back. Next time head up to the North Cascades for some classic alpine routes!

 

As for wind speeds, we had several storms this past season that brought 100+ mph winds at sea level. The high mountain measuring devices broke in Oregon at 108mph. That is a pretty regular thing out here. http://www.accuweather.com/mt-news-blogs.asp?blog=weathermatrix&partner=accuweather&pgUrl=/mtweb/content/weathermatrix/archives/2006/11/pacnw_100_mph_3.asp

 

Awesome pics man! great trip to Rainier, but I agree with the above poster. It may get colder in Coloardo, but the winters are much harsher in the Cascades in terms of snowfall.

 

Just keep in mind when it is raining in Seattle for 30 days straight it is snowing copious amounts of snow in the Cascades without end. Its already June 8th here, and tommorow we are forecasted to recieve up to 6 inches down to 5K.

 

Add that in with the wet factor and its defintly a less pleasant experience then climbing the American rockies. That being said great trip man!

 

 

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I removed the weather commentary from the TR. Had no idea it got that cold in the Cascades. I just assumed the avy education I have had which compares costal versus continental weather was generally correct. We all know what assumptions are good for... thanks for the comments.

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