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aikidjoe

Gib Ledge, Mt. Rainier - 1/26/2014

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Climbwa and I decided to take advantage of what turned out to be a stellar weather window. We left on Friday late morning, and started up from Paradise around 3 pm, enjoying a beautiful sunset and the clearest night sky I have experienced. I left my headlamp off through most of the walk, and let my eyes dark-adapt, which revealed a mist of stars I'd never seen in all my wanderings.

 

We arrived at Camp Muir around 7, and after a couple of hours boiling water and resting, slept in the hut. We awoke and left Muir around 4:45, and followed the boot path to the ledges. Along the way we past two other teams already descending, one saying the Ledges were completely dry. We decided to continue anyways, and continued following the establish boot path to what we thought were the ledges, which we found to be dry and very sketchy. Dismayed, we sat to watch the sun rise for an hour or so (which was beautiful and well worth the pause), then realized that we were not in the right spot. We checked around the corner, and there they were. Definitely a lesson in keeping your eyes open, and don't let beta or a boot pack blind you.

 

We found the ledges to be in excellent shape, and while there were dry sections, they were not problematic. The chute was in good shape, and I found it easy enough with a single axe by traversing left then heading up. We met up with a team of skiers at the top of the chute. Here we rested for a half hour, soaking in the view and the spectacle of a January day on Rainier without wind, and warm enough to feel like July. As we continued up, we ended up stripping down to t-shirts, and genuinely wished for a breeze. As one of the skiers said (paraphrasing), it may be a winter ascent, but it sure feels like cheating.

 

The upper slopes were firm and made for great cramponing. Despite the 1.5 hours of lolly-gagging, we made it to the summit crater less than 7 hours from leaving Muir. We enjoyed the view, chatted with the skiers, took some photos, and again wondered at the lack of wind. I can't stress enough how amazing it was to be on Rainier in January with no wind, warm temperatures, and firm snow. Felt like cheating. We spent a little more than an hour in the summit crater, and I finally got to see one of the steam caves.

 

We descended the Ingraham Direct, which wasn't terribly direct but was in fine shape. A boot path guides the way through, and after all the folks on the mountain we saw today, will remain at least until the next snow arrives.

 

We stayed at Muir that night, and this morning skied to Paradise. The conditions were not terrible on the Muir Snowfield, though crappy for a mediocre skier like me, but we found some good corn snow in the bowls to the east of Panorama Point (which would be even better by afternoon I’m sure). A great way to end what is probably the best trip I've had to Rainier to date. Big thanks to Climbwa for a hell of a trip.

 

I can't seem to get the photos to work, so here they are on Picasa:

https://picasaweb.google.com/josephmontange/GibLedgesMtRainierJan2014#

 

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