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[TR] Mt. Rainier - Fuhrer Finger ski 2/3/2009

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Trip: Mt. Rainier - Fuhrer Finger ski


Date: 2/3/2009


Trip Report:

Drew, Hannah, and I skiied Rainier from Columbia Crest to Nisqually Bridge yesterday.

We left Paradise around midnight (after a 4 hour sleepless attempt at sleeping - due in part to one of the notorious paradise foxes harrasing me in my fitful sleep attempt, they apparently left Drew and Hannah alone.) Skinning up to Pan Point - the snow had a interesting zipper-crust like quality but the zipper crust was actually 2cm+ thick - this overlayed a m/f-ish crust layer which overlayed a thickish layer of dry snow - we found this snow quality up to about 7k - and we suspected it to turn to mank with sunshine - however it never morphed into mank, and instead became a corn-like ski surface in the afternoon...

We found hardish styrofoam or dragon-skin as Drew described it - in the Finger. At around 11k (towrds the top of the narrow part of the Finger) dawn began to light the east:



Drew and Hannah at a col like feature around 11k in the finger area


The wind also began to magnify the cold cold air, and we were looking for a rest area to refuel for an hour or so out of the wind which was cruely numbing us. We futilely tried several areas, then Drew scoped a rocky "cave" type feature which turned out to be money.


As we continued up, we found more and more soft snow, so donning the skins was an obvious choice to negotiate the upper Nisqually Glacier (which is usually heavily crevassed) where we found mostly wind packed pow - intersperesed with the occasional difficult skinning knar.




The wind grew as we ascended, and we were being knocked around as the crater came into view. We skinned funky rimed windpack / windboard / and rime ice to the crater in HIGH winds.




Standing on Columbia Crest without being blown off was a difficult feat. Thankfully it was relitevely warm and sunny - 20dgish - otherwise - we would have needed warmer wear...






Skiing down was an deeply enjoyable change from skiing up - even though the first 1000' or so was sustrugified/rimed mank. The Upper Nisqually was mostly ripper wind packed pow, then firmer corneskish/windboard snow nearing and through the finger - all of wich was very smooth and easy turning.









Surpriseingly we found good to great snow on the Wilson Glacier:



Amar Andalkar had seen us earlier in the day from the Muir snowfield, and he decided to ski the Nisqually Chute (which looked like ripper corn) to try and catch us as we skiied down the lower Nisqually towrd the bridge. He successfully and unexpectedly intercepted us around the base of the Nisqually Chute, and we all enjoyed slightly sloppy-wet-snow turns down to the bridge. Where after a not-too-long-wait Hannah and Amar scored a ride up to their cars, and in no time we were off to much needed greasy food and beer.


Thanks Hannah, Drew, and Amar!

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Nice. You guys are the Washington State version of Inuit - you seem to have about 100 words for different types of snow. "windboardish" "dragon-skin" "corneskish" "difficult skinning gnar." I like.

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Great job, summiting in 60-70mph winds with skis is no small feat. And congrats on a real winter ascent in wintry conditions, not the summer-like winter ascents we were having a couple weeks ago. It was fun to track your climb all morning from below via the magic of a 560mm image-stabilized zoom lens (Canon SX10IS, a great camera). And then fantastic to join you for the ski out to the bridge!


Since you don't have a group summit shot, here's one I took down on the Nisqually Glacier, and another at the bridge:



All smiles on the Nisqually Glacier, with the Fuhrer Finger looming directly above the happy trio.



The Nisqually Bridge, over 10500 vertical feet down from the summit.



The new year is barely a month old, and 5 people have already skied from the summit to Nisqually Bridge, looks like we're headed for a record year! In case people here are interested, here's a link to our trip from a couple weeks ago, I posted a TR on TAY and Dave Brown wrote one on TGR. I was planning to cross-post a full TR here earlier, but never got around to converting the TAY version:


Juneuary 17-18, 2009, Mt Rainier, Summit to Bridge via Fuhrer Finger






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Knowing you guys were up there climbing was brutal. I had a great view from my office window! I really want to ski fuhrer thumb! Nice group pic. Its great you have a new camera, too, dan.

Edited by AllYouCanEat

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Nice. You guys are the Washington State version of Inuit - you seem to have about 100 words for different types of snow. "windboardish" "dragon-skin" "corneskish" "difficult skinning gnar." I like.


2nd that. I particularly liked: "sustrugified/rimed mank".

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Amar, great pics and TR on your links.Enjoyed your pics from your July 2008 Rainier climb, too. Keep them coming.



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Oh, sweetness! Fantastic photos. I am so envious - you guys are doing what I wish I was doing. Good on y'all for gettin' after it. :-)

Edited by thelawgoddess

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