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tvashtarkatena

[TR] Rainier - Emmons 8/8/2009

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Trip: Rainier - Emmons

 

Date: 8/8/2009

 

Trip Report:

TR Rainier, Emmons Route Attempt

 

8/8-9/09

 

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The Emmons Glacier from Camp Curtis

 

 

“Hey, this is how we packed when I was in the Shah’s Army.”

 

I looked at Dan’s snowboarding daypack, all 1000 cubic inches worth, and a picnic table full of gear next to it, and shook my head.

 

“How are you gonna get all that into this?”

 

Half an hour later Dan’s Kmart style sleeping bag, full length CampRest, crampons, axe, and harness were all neatly strapped to what just may be the tiniest overnight pack ever to head up Mt. Rainier. It looked as though it might explode if touched.

 

One of the first things you learn about Kurds is that they don’t easily take NO for an answer.

 

Dan survived the Shah’s Army, the Islamic Revolution, an escape from Iran, before making a life for himself as a mcchanical engineer in the United States. His most dangerous test would come last year, when he was diagnosed and operated on, twice, for brain cancer. In January, the day before his second surgery, he mentioned to me that he wanted to climb Rainier.

 

“OK, I’ll take you up, but you’ve got to stay alive first”.

 

Well, he held up his end of the bargain, so it was time to make good on mine.

 

Our closing-time welcome from David Gottlieb and company at the White River ranger station couldn’t have been warmer. Dan was accompanied by his work pal Nate, an intelligent, gentle giant (by celtic standards, anyway) originally from North Dakota with a sound if dusty climbing pedigree.

 

“How do you want your T bone?”

 

The second thing you learn about Kurds is that they like to eat well, and they make sure that you to eat well with them. Dan brought virtually all the food, home-made and pre-cooked, for the trip, including 2 lbs of salmon fettucini alfredo (per person), chicken salad sandwiches…the works.

 

“Damn, I forgot the Bourgelais!”

 

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Dan on the approach, Little Tahoma in the background

 

 

By Glacier Basin, we were already duct taping Dan’s feet to protect them from his cruel, blue Asolo rentals. We’d already passed one young woman wearing a pained expression with the same boots strapped to her back. At the base of the Inter Glacier, we would meet another in Tevas carrying the very same cargo.

 

The Inter Glacier right now, far from being a ‘hike’, is a mud smeared black ice bowling alley. I felt bad about dragging Dan, who, despite climbs of Adams, Hood, and St. Helens, had never worn crampons before, up such terrain. I also kind of wished I’d brought real crampons instead of pre-dulled aluminums. Fortunately for the way down, the mess can be completely avoided by taking the truncated couloir to climber’s right of the Inter.

 

By Camp Curtis, Dan’s boots had made such a mess of his feet that he could no longer continue, even to Camp Schurman. The wind was blowing 20+mph and my whimpy Tarpent, designed for the quiet forests of the PCT, threatened to throttle me all night like a drunken harlot. What a Godforsaken spot.

 

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Nate enjoys the breeze at Camp Curtis

 

 

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Little Tahoma from Camp Curtis

 

 

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Lenticulars from Camp Curtis

 

 

At dusk, the wind suddenly died. Our exposed Martian outpost became an ascetic’s perch above a sea of clouds. The moon rose through a squadron of distant lenticulars, and I was reminded just how spectacular this mountain is.

 

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Looking north from Camp Curtis

 

 

My open bag of Hawaiian BBQ chips sprung to life in the dead of night. I jerked awake and kicked my big toe, hard, into one of the rocks at the foot of my tent. A huge bushy tailed wood rat leapt towards the door…but was trapped by the mosquito netting. It froze, waiting for my surveillance to end (cool little bastard), but once the headlamp flamed on, it ran for it.

 

Dawn broke. The moon floated directly over a clear and windless summit, specked by climbing parties. I felt of twinge of longing to be among them, but only that.

 

Dan called out.

 

“Good morning! Espresso anyone?”

 

He magically produced a Micropaq, the 24 hour heart/blood oxygen monitor we’d designed together back in the day, which had finally gone to market after I’d left the company.

 

“You carried that up here, too?”

 

“Hey, only 2 pounds!”

 

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Shorts over polypro AND lycra. End running the Inter Glacier on the descent

 

 

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Monkeyflower, mimulus guttatus, Glacier Basin

 

 

The scale of this mountain never fails to astound me. I’m always reluctant to go again, but I’m always glad afterwards. Add to that the great company of an old and new friend and…well, I’ll probably wind up coming back whenever the opportunity arises for as long as I’m able. After all, do any of us know how long that will be?

 

Approach Notes:

Avoid the Inter Glacier and it's high rock fall hazard by skirting it to the north via the obvious partially melted out snow finger.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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Beautiful photos

 

That snow finger was nice on the descent, but for others reference the snow finger and snow patches below and adjacent to the inter glacier are severly undercut and thin. We watched a 100' x 50' section collapse (impressive) when struck by a couple rocks kicked loose from above. A group of about 4 was standing there just moments prior. That was the most dangerous thing I saw during our climb, car to summit. They're conveinient, but if I did this again tomorrow I'd stay on the far right of the glacier.

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I'm a bit confused. Did you actually witness a major collapse of the top snow finger this weekend, or was this a second hand report from before this weekend? The upper snow finger was solid when we downclimbed it. As for the snowfields at the base, they are very low angle and can be easily avoided, but even if they did collapse underneath you, you'd fall like, 3 feet.

 

The right side of the Inter Glacier is really hazardous due to party induced and melt out rockfall. There was shit coming down there constantly.

 

Having done both routes this weekend, the choice was pretty easy. Of course, conditions change all the time.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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I'm a bit confused. Did you actually witness a major collapse of the top snow finger this weekend, or was this a second hand report from before this weekend? The upper snow finger was solid when we downclimbed it. As for the snowfields at the base, they are very low angle and can be easily avoided, but even if they did collapse underneath you, you'd fall like, 3 feet.

 

The right side of the Inter Glacier is really hazardous due to party induced and melt out rockfall. There was shit coming down there constantly.

 

Having done both routes this weekend, the choice was pretty easy. Of course, conditions change all the time.

 

We were descending this section pretty late in the day (8pm) on Sunday.

 

Yeah we did witness a section collapse. This isn't the snow finger in a narrow gully. This was the snow patch that one runs into below the finger. Like I said the collapse was impressive. The fracture ran through parts of the snow shelf that was at 6'-8' thick towards the middle of the snow patch. The snow fell 10'-15'. I would imagine a broken leg/ankle would be very easy to come by had someone been on it. Granted this was triggered by party induced rockfall, but a climber making the jump from the rocky gully to the snow patch could have triggered it all the same.

 

We weren't too fond of the look of the upper snow finger after descending it, but I suppose it was safe enough. Following that we witnessed the collapse described above. That's when I decided that it wasn't too much work to skirt the remaining snow patch and travel on the talus/scree. I agree that the glacier has it's hazards. It was our ascent route and we had a couple rocks come our way. Just wanted people to know that the snow patches are melting out from the underside in places and may not be as friendly as they look. Judge the conditions, make your own descions, etc.

Edited by Reid

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Beautiful photos

 

That snow finger was nice on the descent, but for others reference the snow finger and snow patches below and adjacent to the inter glacier are severly undercut and thin. We watched a 100' x 50' section collapse (impressive) when struck by a couple rocks kicked loose from above. A group of about 4 was standing there just moments prior. That was the most dangerous thing I saw during our climb, car to summit. They're conveinient, but if I did this again tomorrow I'd stay on the far right of the glacier.

Great work .. really informative .. and thanks a lot for sharing ..

 

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Edited by christina2009

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The scale of this mountain never fails to astound me. I’m always reluctant to go again, but I’m always glad afterwards.

 

Same here.

 

I've heard many horror stories about the blue Asolo plastics from REI.

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The scale of this mountain never fails to astound me. I’m always reluctant to go again, but I’m always glad afterwards.

 

Same here.

 

I've heard many horror stories about the blue Asolo plastics from REI.

 

pretty much any day on Rainier is a good day

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Nice picture.

3806966914_07b33fe399.jpg

 

My brother in law slipped on the ball-bearing slabs here just beneath Camp Curtis almost 20 years ago and hairline-fractured his hip. Good times. I've climbed Rainier 16 times by six routes, but the Emmons is still my favorite.

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Awesome photos Pat! Do you ever take sucky photos?

having a half-trained alchoholic rhesus monkey chained up in his basement, hopped up on goof-balls and surgically wired into a apple 2 e running a version of photoshop found on a ufo that crashed in austria in the late 50s, sure don't hurt either :)

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