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[TR] Rainier - Emmons 7/15/2005 - 7/17/2005

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Trip: Rainier - Emmons Glacier


Date: 7/15/2005 - 7/17/2005


Trip Report:


I made my first attempt on Rainier in 2004, when I got turned back by AMS at around 12,500. The following year I talked one of my partners from that climb, Dale, to join me on another attempt on the Emmons, along with two other friends. Despite having climbed the route the year before (successfully) he agreed. This trip report is dedicated to Dale who died five years ago on the Mt. Dickerman trail, where you'll find a memorial cross with the exhortation: "Climb on brothers!"


Dale on the summit:



Dale, Mike, Chuck and I opted for an easier 2.5 day climb of the Emmons, leaving work early Friday for White River. At the ranger station we were told that Glacier Basin was full and we'd have to camp at the White River campground, or hike up to Camp Curtis. After a brief chat *outside* we opted to hike in to Glacier Basin and move on further if need be. As it turns out, the campsite was more than half empty so we stayed there for a short night's stay - arriving at dusk, and leaving soon after dawn.


View of Rainier from the trail:



The next morning we set off bright and early making good time to the Inter Glacier. Here Dale, annoyed with our slower pace (he was strong as a horse), put on his iPod and headed up unroped. The rest of us roped up and never caught up to Dale until Camp Curtis. The glacier was mostly covered up with a couple small crevasses that we easily stepped over. As we got higher Chuck, who was leader on the rope, kept stopping more and more frequently complaining of "dizziness". It become agonizingly slow.


At Camp Curtis we were rewarded with spectacular views of the Emmons and Rainier. The weather was perfect - blue bird skies, and not a cloud to be seen! Chuck seemed to be a little better, but not his normally strong self. We downclimbed sketchy, gnarly, loose crap down to the Emmons and slowly traversed up to Camp Schurman. We arrived mid-afternoon, maybe 3-ish, and folks were packing up and leaving from the previous day. We scored an awesome spot on a nicely dug-out platform, and then watched the hordes of climbers arrive at camp. Schurman and Emmons Flats quickly turned in to tent-city. Near our spot a small party pulled out a copy of Freedom of the Hills and started practicing self-arrest at camp. I shit you not.


We debated about start time and opted for getting up at midnight. With the time of year and the crowds at camp it was bright and noisy and none of us really got much rest. We were up at midnight - except for Chuck, who informed us the dizziness had turned into some kind of flu, and he'd be "out". So, the three of us remaining headed up. We got the typical view of headlamps strung out from camp to half way up Rainier. We apparently were starting later than many, but we quickly caught up to the conga line on the corridor.


The traverse was agonizingly slow, with just too many people up there that day. At about 12,500 feet however, when we turned up hill, the crowd thinned and we were on our own until the Bergshrund.


A party had had an accident a few days before above the 'Schrund, with all team members sliding and one guy getting a compound fracture of his leg. We saw the tent he had bivvied in, perched precariously on the slope, now empty. Higher up (above the 'schrund) we saw a swath of pink in the snow, maybe 4 feet wide and a hundred feet long, which must have been from blood of the injured man's leg. It was more than a little spooky.


The 'schrund was crossed at a steep snow bridge which we belayed. We had to wait our turn however, for about 45 minutes. This was apparently the only good crossing nearby and folks were queued up. Above the bergschrund we encountered a breakable crust over soft snow, and were very careful to break the crust with every step and avoid any sliding falls.


Soon the slopes mellowed and I insisted on a break. Some climbers descending told us we were about 300 feet from the top. We promptly got up and finished the climb. After topping off, we descending a few feet into the crater for a rest out of the wind. Nobody was interested in signing the register so we just chilled there. Dale took a 45 minute nap. Our time up was just over 7 hours.


Dale, KK, and Mike on the summit:



The descent started off quickly enough, but after the traverse the snow got sloppier and sloppier, and slower and slower.


Descending the traverse:



Dale enjoying the payout on the sweat equity he earned:



The bootpath on the corridor was a mess. It took around 4 hours to get to camp and we all plopped down on our backs for an hour or so before breaking camp.


Another 4 hours saw us to the cars. Well, for me and Chuck. Mike and Dale were way ahead of us. My thighs were destroyed, and Chuck ended up driving my car. I did not even make it to the shower at home and fell asleep on the couch. At 7 am I awoke to my 8-year-old son asking what I was doing sleeping on the couch. :-)


All in all the climb could not have gone better, and I can't believe it's been over 5 years. Time and friends pass too soon.


Gear Notes:

The usual.


Approach Notes:

Scramble from Camp Curtis to the Emmons was horrible, loose, and outright dangerous.

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Ivan, what the heck, did you just repost this? Must have, because it's a pretty boring narrative compared to your usual invigorating penwork. Nice to know you were a grom back in the day somewhere! Cheers.


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This trip report is dedicated to Dale who died fiver years ago on the Mt. Dickerman trail, where you'll find a memorial cross. "Climb on brothers!"


very kind words and a fitting tribute.

nice report, thanks!

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