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KaskadskyjKozak

[TR] Rainier - Fuhrer Finger 6/28/2008 - 6/29/2008

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Trip: Rainier - Fuhrer Finger

 

Date: 6/28/2008-6/29/2008

 

Trip Report:

My friend CF and I have been talking about climbing the Fuhrer Finger for over a year and it just hasn't come together (scheduling and good weather). We figure this could be our last shot, even though the high-freezing level of 14K at night was not ideal. I brought in BundledUpSurfer and invited Fairweather to have a solid team of 4, and FW invited his bro and friend GW to give us a mountie-esque caravan of 6. :grlaf:

 

We set off at about 9:30 on Sat. The heat was opprssive soon into the hike and sucked out a lot of energy. The lower Nisqually is completely filled-in, so we just walked across it unroped, and headed up the Fan. Also, FW told me I need to break some rules from the FOTH climbing code. :grlaf:

Rainier_-_June_2008_006.jpg

 

Even at that hour we could see rockfall on the left and hurried up and out of the fall lines. We attained the ridge and followed it up to the Wapowety Cleaver, working slowly in the heat, with several rest breaks. The route soon came into view:

 

Rainier_-_June_2008_009.jpg

 

Eventually around 9000 feet, with a direct traverse in sight for the Finger, we stopped and set up camp in some walled-off bivy sites. Note: going straight up the Nisqually then left will still work as well - very filled-in. Here's BundledUpSurfer preparing for the ascent. This dude is a climbing machine:

 

Rainier_-_June_2008_011.jpg

 

one site had several blue bags stuck in the cracks. That's fucked up. People need to take their shit down the fucking mountain. Later I saw a blue-bag in a shallow crevasse. Assholes.

 

Due to the relentless sun, we could not even lie down to rest until around six or seven. Most of us packed really light bivy sacks, or light shelters. It never fell below 50 degrees with light breezes at 9000 feet!

 

Wake up time was 12:15 but we did not get going until 1:30. My head lamp did not work, but fortunately GW had a spare Tikka. We were all pretty tired still. GW was feeling a bit off even out of camp and I also had that familiar feeling of "I'm hungry and nauseaus at the same time".

 

We traversed to the Finger and were surprised by the number of people we saw. We knew there were two other parties doing the route as of when we had registered, but several other parties were there, including one that must have come up late in the evening. It was a conga-line, reminiscent of the DC. I have never moved so slowly on a climb. It was agonizing. The snow was soft. Too soft. We didn't exit the Finger until maybe 4 am or so. But, on the good side we did not hear any rockfall in the Finger itself. I was pleasantly surprised.

 

When we got to the Nisqually we hit our next challenge. It was a mess. Very broken up with no clear path through (later we saw two skiiers who somehow had made it through - but they were the only ones). So we looked left. Not good either. One party was discussing going up a rock band. There were also a couple sketchy snow bridges which didn't seem to attain the steep slope high enough to make it a go. Then I saw a guy - well heard him, begin to puke his guts out. That didn't help my stomach much. Finally we opted to try a snow bridge. CF set a picket over the bridge climbed up about 30 feet, set another, and then climbed to some rocks. I followed. It was 50-55 degree snow. But harder than the finger and reasonable to get up. Rest break. And blue bag break. Great, we would be carrying those in the heat all day.

 

We continued up the side of the Wilson Headwall, above gaping crevasses on the Nisqually. Beautiful. But the climbing was exausting and very very slow. There were less people now. Maybe half as many - several parties had evidently turned around. We took frequent breaks - every few hundred feet.

Rainier_-_June_2008_017.jpg

 

I was burning out and not feeling better. When we finally made it to the top of the Wilson Headwall, where it meets the Kautz route, my altimeter said 12600 feet (and so did everyone's). I was feeling worse over the last 600-800 feet - definitely AMS. I had a bad experience with pushing on with AMS about 4 years ago, and decided I couldn't make it another 1800 feet especially at the pace we were going (500 feet an hour). This was around 8:30 - the entire route is only supposed to take 5-7 hours. Well, it turns out that we were actually at around 13300 feet, so our altimeters were all off. 13.3K would have been a harder call to make to stop in hindsight.

 

The remaining 5 pushed on and summitted at around 10 am - 8.5 hours into the climb. Here's part of the team as they headed up:

 

Rainier_-_June_2008_019.jpg

 

It was getting colder and windy, but not horrible. It was colder than I expected. They got back to me at around 11:15. Originally we had planned to descend the Finger but the conditions were not good for that, so we opted for the Kautz. It's worth noting here that the views were pretty sucky - very hazy with poor visibility. The night before we had had perfect, clear views at camp.

 

The descent was very fast and pleasant until somewhere in the middle of the second step, when we came to some ice. A party of three was rappelling off an ice bollard. We decided to follow them, but damn it took a long time. We considered downclimbing but had only two ice screws between the two teams and were not feeling up to it. When the first party cleared out, we set an anchor with a screw for clipping in and rappelled down one by one on a single 37m rope. BUS went last - he tied the two ropes together and did a double rope rap. He ended up with some booty - a locking belay biner. By this time the webbing was cut maybe 20% into that bollard...

 

Here's a view up from below the higher step:

 

Rainier_-_June_2008_026.jpg

 

Below that rap there was enough snow over the ice to just downclimb it, which we all did unroped. Then it flattened out and we hit the first step, which was melted out at the bottom for maybe 80-100 feet. But it was solid, low angle stuff with big steps, so we just downclimbed it carefully.

 

Looking back at the Kautz ice chute:

Rainier_-_June_2008_031.jpg

The scramble up to the Turtle was up about 50 feet of rotten rock, but there was a fixed line in placed with knots for handholds.

 

Some glissading was to be had on the Turtle, but the troughs had some ice parts and constrictions and hurt. The melted out parts sucked. We got to camp, packed up and headed out at 4 pm. The hike out involved some nasty snow patches where you could slip on ice, some nasty rotten rock, and long stretches of hikable snow with some good glissading. The glissade down the Fan was particularly enjoyable. We again crossed the lower Nisqually unroped, and hiked up that last painful hill to Glacier Vista before arriving at our cars at around 6:20. 19 hours camp to summit to trailhead.

 

Burgers in Elbe. 1/2 pounder, please...

 

Gear Notes:

Crampons, ice axe, helmet, 1 ice screw, 2 pickets

 

Approach Notes:

Soft snow, oppressive heat, brutal.

Edited by KaskadskyjKozak

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Yeah man, it was incredible the amount of people we saw up in the area of the last two days. Did you stick around for the sweet thunder and lightening storm that evening? Quite impressive.

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KKK,

 

I think I saw your group on FF. Did one guy in your party have a pony tail? I was with a guy and a girl. I was greeting folks with 'hola amigo'. At the top of the finger where everyone kind of stopped, we saw the group that placed pickets to protect a pull over a crevasse lip thingy (you guys I assume). We went left and down - it was quite easy. We turned around shortly thereafter, one of our party was running out of steam.

 

Dan

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KKK,

 

I think I saw your group on FF. Did one guy in your party have a pony tail? I was with a guy and a girl. I was greeting folks with 'hola amigo'. At the top of the finger where everyone kind of stopped, we saw the group that placed pickets to protect a pull over a crevasse lip thingy (you guys I assume). We went left and down - it was quite easy. We turned around shortly thereafter, one of our party was running out of steam.

 

Dan

 

yes, the guy with the pony tail is CF - he was the one who led up over the "crevasse lip thingy". I remember one team with a guy and girl, but they summitted. i probably saw you guys though.

where did you camp?

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where did you camp?

We camped at about 10,000 feet on a rock ledge at the base of the 'Finger'. Not recommended.

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where did you camp?

We camped at about 10,000 feet on a rock ledge at the base of the 'Finger'. Not recommended.

 

ahhh. the traverse was pretty quick, so we were happy. Some folks camped on the Wilson glacier. And we saw a party of 2 or 3 hiking up into the base of the finger there Sat evening, maybe it was you?

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That must have been us you saw, we hit our bivi site about 4:30.

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That must have been us you saw, we hit our bivi site about 4:30.

 

we thought you were actually trying to summit... or ski down the finger that evening. :-)

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Daniel, we were the skiers that climbed up the Finger with you in the morning. Nice meeting you. Thanks for helping finish off the boot track!

 

KK, I think you must have seen us after we cut over onto the upper Nisqually. We decided to get away from the crowds unleashing rocks on the cleaver and found a neat little traverse through the broken-up section. From there it was pretty smooth going.

 

The ski down was fun, though most of the Finger sluffed as soon as we started making turns :eek:

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Daniel, we were the skiers that climbed up the Finger with you in the morning. Nice meeting you. Thanks for helping finish off the boot track!

 

KK, I think you must have seen us after we cut over onto the upper Nisqually. We decided to get away from the crowds unleashing rocks on the cleaver and found a neat little traverse through the broken-up section. From there it was pretty smooth going.

 

The ski down was fun, though most of the Finger sluffed as soon as we started making turns :eek:

 

I was impressed with your route-finding. The broken-up section looked impassable. Good job!

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KK, I'll be darn. I think we camped next to you guys at 9000'. I was the one on skis for the approach to and descent from camp (but regrettably climbed to the summit in the rando boots which my hamburger for feet and ankles can attest was not a good idea).

I doubt the Fuhrer Finger has seen so many parties at once. We were fortunate to pass folks on the ice section to access the Wilson Headwall to climb unimpeded and free from the rockfall, but we took our time as one in our party hadn't been up so high before and was feeling the affects of the altitude. We were the party of three rapping off of the bollard on the Kautz. Sorry to slow you guys.

 

Daniel--why did you guys decide to camp at the hourglass? We were hoping you'd be okay because we heard rockfall (probably off the Wilson Headwall) during the night.

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KK, I'll be darn. I think we camped next to you guys at 9000'. I was the one on skis for the approach to and descent from camp (but regrettably climbed to the summit in the rando boots which my hamburger for feet and ankles can attest was not a good idea).

I doubt the Fuhrer Finger has seen so many parties at once. We were fortunate to pass folks on the ice section to access the Wilson Headwall to climb unimpeded and free from the rockfall, but we took our time as one in our party hadn't been up so high before and was feeling the affects of the altitude. We were the party of three rapping off of the bollard on the Kautz. Sorry to slow you guys.

 

Daniel--why did you guys decide to camp at the hourglass? We were hoping you'd be okay because we heard rockfall (probably off the Wilson Headwall) during the night.

 

Yeah, I camped right above you. :-)

 

We took longer than you to rap off that bollard, so no worries. :-)

 

 

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Enjoyed climbing again with KK and friends. Thanks to all! Having climbed this route at least twice before--over 20 years ago--I was surprised by the crowds. My thanks to the step-kickers lower down--sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you in person Daniel. Were you leading the party with the girl dressed in green? Also, nice to meet the two skiers (Fresh and Co.) just topping the rim when we were coming down. I was the guy with the "Toyota" baseball cap who wished you a good ski down--it looks like you had a good ride. Good job solving the puzzle through the seracs too. Even from above, I couldn't see how you did it.

 

Mmmmm. Welcome to high camp:

IMG_0140.jpg

 

KK:

IMG_0146.jpg

 

Anointing the crater:

IMG_0148.jpg

 

The Kautz rappel:

IMG_0151.jpg

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I was in the other group with one girl and one guy. I believe I climbing next to Kyle during the lower portion of the Finger. I'd like to thank KK and Kyle for the beta about getting down the Kautz. We were pretty slow, so having that info really helped. We ended up just downclimbing the entire ice portion of the Kautz. Both KK and Kyle mentioned the gully with potential ice and rock fall danger right before the fixed line. We moved through that part at a jog. 5 minutes later a wheel barrel sized chunk of ice came sliding down. We also got to see the brunt of the lighting storm and terrential down pour. Felt bad for the people who had just set up camp. It was my first accent of Rainier, so I was pretty thilled. The views were terrible, must have something to do with the 10 million wildfires in Cali? Thanks again.

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I was in the other group with one girl and one guy. I believe I climbing next to Kyle during the lower portion of the Finger. I'd like to thank KK and Kyle for the beta about getting down the Kautz. We were pretty slow, so having that info really helped. We ended up just downclimbing the entire ice portion of the Kautz. Both KK and Kyle mentioned the gully with potential ice and rock fall danger right before the fixed line. We moved through that part at a jog. 5 minutes later a wheel barrel sized chunk of ice came sliding down. We also got to see the brunt of the lighting storm and terrential down pour. Felt bad for the people who had just set up camp. It was my first accent of Rainier, so I was pretty thilled. The views were terrible, must have something to do with the 10 million wildfires in Cali? Thanks again.

 

you guys did great! those conditions were tough. slow and steady wins the race. :grin:

 

 

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Daniel--why did you guys decide to camp at the hourglass? We were hoping you'd be okay because we heard rockfall (probably off the Wilson Headwall) during the night.

 

Camping where we did was a poor decision on my part. We kept thinking we could find a nice, protected site 'just a little higher', but we never did. The rock fall all night was coming down from the gulley climber's left of the FF. We had a pretty sleepless night. Only one rock came down the FF and it came pretty close to our camp.

Edited by danielpatricksmith

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My thanks to the step-kickers lower down--sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you in person Daniel. Were you leading the party with the girl dressed in green?

 

Same here, I would have enjoyed meeting everyone too. I was indeed in the same party as the girl in the green.

Edited by danielpatricksmith

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Sounds like the "other" moderate routes on Rainier are becoming quite popular these days. The Kautz seemed like it was on the DL only a few years ago. Now the Finger has fallen as well... alas. I guess the only place to get solitude anymore is the west side.

 

Anyway, about the unclaimed blue bags stuffed in rocks and crevasses: Some are probably from parties on their summit climb/descent. I know when I am on my way up, I don't want to bring any extra ounces up, especially fragrant ones. But I make sure to claim them on the return to camp. Once I even grabbed an unclaimed prize much to the cringes of my teammates. But yeah, there are definitely people who leave their mark on the mountain indefinitely. At least its bagged up anyway.

 

I think the NPS should institute a BEER FOR BLUE BAGS program. For every bag with brown matter inside that you return, you get an ice cold Rainier Beer. The alcoholics will have the mountain cleaned up in short order... Of course this could encourage shitting contests on the mountain, as well as people bringing in bags which were filled before they stepped on the mountain in the first place. But these are minor details.

 

 

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