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[TR] Mt. Rainier - Emmons Winthrop 6/28/2014

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Trip: Mt. Rainier - Emmons Winthrop


Date: 6/28/2014


Trip Report:

The Emmons-Winthrop route was soft when we climbed it on July 1, 2014. Our group of 5 students and 2 Instructor/Guides left Schurman Camp at midnight. We moved up the corridor with about 35 other people on about 12 rope teams. It was by far the most crowded I had seen the route in the four times I have guided groups on this route.


About two hours into the climb we moved right to pass a group on the corridor. About 15 minutes after moving right one of my teammates on the second rope team called for me to come back down. My rope team moved back down and discovered that my fellow guide, Spinner, had fallen into a crevasse. Spinner had fallen in a hole and the rope between him and his second had slit the snow above the crevasse all the way back to the second. So basically Spinner had fallen in a hole 20ft above his second and than he had swung under his second as the rope cut through the snow above the crevasse.


I assessed the situation and decide to anchor the second and third person on his rope team with two snow pickets in order to prevent either one of them from going into the crevasse with Spinner. I put two pickets in and equalized them with a four foot sling. I attached this sling to the rope in front of the last person in their rope team, Drennan, with a kleimheist.


A third rope team that was not with our party offered to help and I said that I would be glad for the extra hands. I than eased over to the hole and yelled down to Spinner to see how he was doing. He yelled back that he was uninjured, but could not climb out. He was stuck and could not get to his backpack to get warm clothes. He could not climb up the rope he was attached to because it had slit through the rough of the crevasse and now hung straight through about 8ft of snow.


The third rope team leader, Michael, secured a rope. The fourth person on my rope, Paige, put in two pickets and created a second anchor that we could use to hoist Spinner from the chilly cavern. We talked about excevating above Spinner to create a hole to have him climb out of, but decided against this because there was too much danger of collapsing all of the snow above him on top of him and suffocating him. Instead, we used the rope that Michael had secured and swung it back in forth inside the hole until Spinner could hold it.


Spinner had slipped about a foot more into the crevasse and was able to stand on a small ice ledge so that he could now take his pack off. Spinner secured his backpack to the rope that Michael swung to him while I built a 3:1 pulley on the other end of the same rope. I used a mini traxion as the ratchet and a kleimheist as the tractor.


Michael pulled Spinner's pack up about ten feet and it got caught. I felt like I really made a mistake in trying to get the pack out before getting Spinner out. The pack could have easily hung below Spinner. Now the pack was caught and we could not easily get another rope down to Spinner. After about five or ten minutes we were able to unjam the pack and bring it to the surface.


Michael than swung the rope again to Spinner. Spinner snagged it with his ice axe and than accidentally let go of his axe. He said, "I never heard it hit bottom." He secured himself to this line and than untied his original rope. We needed to pull him out on an angle and needed to get rid of his original rope because it would hold him back from moving on an angle to the hole he fell into. Once he untied Isaac and Drennan were free to move back to the first anchor I built.


We had protected the edge with an axe and were able to pull Spinner quite easily towards his hole. He helped climb some and we pulled a few feet at a time. Michael stayed near the hole so that he could talk with Spinner and make sure we were not jamming him into a slot like we had done with his pack. Spinner bounced out no worse for wear. He was down an ice axe and a bit cold so we decide he would go back with two participants to Camp Schurman and the other four of us would go on.


The four of us ascended 300-500ft past the three triangles at the end of the corridor. We climbed past two major features on our right and than angled under a feature that looked like a huge bat from Camp Schurman. We angle up and to our right across the Alpine Meadow. We excited the Alpine Meadow just right of four huge triangle features that we called the Four Egyptian Pyramids at about 12,800ft. We than headed to the left of three very large blocks. A lot of groups wanted to head right towards the Liberty Saddle, but this is blocked by a eighty foot wide burgschrund that you cannot see until you get closer. The route has two steeper section between 13,000 and 14,000ft. Each of these sections were about 40˚ to 45˚. We reached the Columbia Crest and summited at about 9:00am. We had spend about an hour on the rescue and took very few breaks on the ascent. We than spend about 1.5hrs on the summit, which was way too long, but beautiful. There was very little wind and we were checking oxygen saturation, blood pressure, heart rate and cognitive ability for some high altitude research were were doing for Pacific University.


Coming down was slow and extremely hot. We did a running belay on on crevasses and changed the name of the Alpine Meadow to the Alpine Desert.



Gear Notes:

We had three people with two pickets, texas kick with prusic for each person, and crevasse rescue gear for three people.


Approach Notes:

Parked at the White River Campsite, hiked to Glacier Basin on day one, climbed to Camp Schurman on day two, rested day three, climbed day four and came out day five.



Section leaving the corridor above the three triangles, going past two major features and going under the feature that looks like a bat.



Section going through alpine meadow. The three climbers on this photo are going the wrong direction. The route goes past the four Egyptian Pyramids in the middle of the photo and angle up and to the right.



Section going past the Egyptian Pyramids and angling up and to the right. Than go just left of three large blocks that are on the horizon in this photo. Keep going straight up and move 40ft right of small bergschrund near the top.


Edited by tworedshoes

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Thanks for the TR. I always like to read about real world crevasse rescue as it seems a lot of what I have read about hasn't even worked out very well just practicing on snow slopes somewhere.


I am curious how you would think the rescue would have gone with just 2 people on the rope team and nobody else. It sounds like just a 2 person team would be in a really bad spot in the same fall scenario.


Would it be have been at all possible to dig out of the snow roof if that was truly the only option?

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