lukeh Posted July 18, 2014 Share Posted July 18, 2014 (edited) Trip: Mt. Rainier - Kautz Glacier Date: 7/12/2014 Trip Report: Me skinning up the last 20 feet to Rainier's summit. Photo by Alin Flaidar. Walking to edge of a cliff on he Wapowetry Cleaver around 11,000ft. A "super moon" lit up the mountain nicely. Alin, Dereck and summited Rainier via the Kautz Glacier route this past Sat/Sun. We carried over and descended the DC route Sunday morning. I skied down where crevasses would allow. Highlights: We made it up to the base of The Turtle (~9600ft) in about 3 hours. No rope was needed until the Ice Cliff (~11,300ft). Crossing the lower Nisqually and ascending The Fan was straightforward. There was a huge party (30 people?) camped at the base of the Turtle from the Utah Climbing Club. We didn't see them for the remainder of the trip. There was a somewhat larger party who ended up camping above us at Camp Hazard. We got up earlier to avoid getting behind either large parties – thank god! We did see four people above Wapowety Cleaver as we came down the DC route. There was a chance of Thunderstorms in the forecast, so we brought a 4-pound 3-man tent which I would’ve rather left home to save weight. I watched a thunderhead form the entire afternoon until sunset, then dissipate into nothing. No precip. A Chihuahua-sized rat circled our open tent looking for food – I tried to scare him off. I slept 0 hours. There was a small drip/water run-off at 11k, but it dried up in the afternoon! Disappointing. The water below The Turtle won't dry up as far as I can tell. Right before crossing the ice chute area below the Kautz Ice Cliff, large blocks of ice (car sized) came down in front of us. We crossed this section in a hurry 5 minutes later. Both the lower and upper ice cliffs were a lot longer than I was expecting. For the upper cliff we climbed near some large nieves penitentes on the right, which we used for rests periodically. We simul-climbed both sections fairly quickly, Alin leading. He placed the occasional screw. There was hard ice all the way up, most of it good (picks and front points stuck well). It got a little rotten near the top. A fall most places would definitely have been catastrophic. This was Dereck’s first time ice climbing and he did great. His rock skills transferred nicely. I would’ve been shitting my pants simul-climbing those long stretches with two people's lives on my shoulders (or straining calves). He had a screw and a tethered axe just in case he got pumped at an inopportune time. I had the same as I'm certainly no ice-climbing star. Above the Ice Cliff there were several large crevasses, some hidden. I jumped one and my left leg punched through. I planted both tools and pulled myself out. Dereck jumped the same crevasse and both his legs punched through. He did the same, Cliffhanger-style. Neither of us died. We then punched through a couple more random spots. This was a dicey section, especially with the increased temps. Our pace quickened up toward the Nisqually above the Wapowety Cleaver. We saw one other party above the Ice Cliff – a guy named JR who was cruising with his son. He’d done the Fuhrer Finger the weekend before with his girlfriend. We had been looking at the Finger from below The Turtle – it looked gnarly. JR knew the way so we followed him around and down around Wapowety Cleaver. He had cruised past all of the other climbers still on the cliff and caught up with us. I guess some had asked him to wait behind them, which he of course didn’t. That would’ve been a big mistake and probably cost him hours and an even riskier descent down the DC. There’s a huge crevasse system that cuts you off from joining the DC route up high, so you traverse toward Pt. Success then up to Columbia Crest. It was cool to see this new area near the summit and to see the DC route from a different perspective. I skied across the summit crater and then we boiled a couple liters at the crater rim before heading down. I skied down to around 13,000’ in shitty, uneven snow, where the first major crevasse bridge awaited. It was hot, I wasn’t about to die when that thing collapsed so I waited 15-20 min for Dereck/Alin and we roped up. The DC descent is sketch now—especially in the heat. Dereck and I were up there less than 2 weeks ago and it was the tamest I’ve ever seen it. Things had changed dramatically – stuff opened up everywhere – longer jumps, sketchier bridges. The snow was also super soft and wet by the time we hit the bad sections. I honestly don’t know what was riskier, simul-climbing the Kautz Ice Cliff or descending the DC in that heat. I skied Ingraham Flats, the Cowlitz, then down from Muir to the top of Pan Face then almost to the parking lot. I was dehydrated and overall had a sad time descending due to heat, lack of water, and zero sleep the night before. The snow was heavy/wet – overall the descent gets a thumbs down. I also haven’t skied much this year so my skillz are poor, making it harder. The snowboard descent 2 weeks ago down the DC was much more fun. Still I don’t regret bringing the skis. I met Dereck/Alin in the parking lot maybe 1-2 hours later. Dereck’s heels were badly blistered. I needed to pick my gf up from the airport so we had no time for a celebratory meal, but we all felt really good about getting this one. Alin and I especially, who have had it on the list for years. This was Dereck’s third summit: He’s done the Emmons, then he snowboarded down the DC with me after a single push, now Kautz. Not a bad intro into mountaineering. This was my ninth time summiting Rainier. I still really want to do Liberty Ridge, the Tahoma Glacier, Gib Ledges, and board down Fuhrer Finger. Next year hopefully. This was Alin's first climb this year - his bike fitness paid off as he was in great shape. Sky in the Paradise parking lot. Iphone pic. Rainier and the super moon from an Eatonville gas station. Iphone pic. Dereck and I headed up "The Turtle" below the Kautz Ice Cliff. Photo by Alin Flaidar. At our 11k camp on the Wapowety Cleaver, watching a thunder cloud form due east. Forecast said chance thunderstorms, we saw none thankfully. Photo by Alin Flaidar. Drying my sweaty socks out, can't beat the view. Iphone pic. I couldn't sleep all afternoon due to the heat, light, and some other reason I don't understand. I watched this thundercloud grow large, then dissipate over a 4-hour span. We had clear weather with low wind from here to the summit that night. The Kautz Ice Cliff from our camp. Our tent is left, Camp Hazard is to the right. A lot of people camped here. The boulders above Camp Hazard look like they could come loose at any moment, so we stayed away. Just above Wapowety Cleaver on the Nisqually Glacier. Alin's self-portrait on the Nisqually Glacier. On the Nisqually Glacier above 13,000ft. We can see the DC climbers, which is a completely new perspective for me. Large impassable crevasses/icefalls separate us. Pt. Success - another climber we met named JR and his son. They helped us with route finding above the Ice Cliff. JR and his son behind a crevasse that seemed to span the entire Nisqually Glacier. End running this to get to the summit caused a detour toward Pt. Success. I snowboarded down the DC under two weeks ago. The DC route now looked completely different as the warm temps have been peeling open crevasses everywhere. This is on the Ingraham Glacier near the DC entrance. Really rough sketch of the line we took up to the summit. GPS track overlaid on Google Earth map. Red lines indicate paths we should have taken. The lower Nisqually and The Fan were very straightforward. We didn't rope up until the Ice Cliff above around 11k ft. We should've taken the yellow path here. You can stay closer to the Cleaver as you get toward the top, crevasses permitting. Gear Notes: 5 screws, used 1 on the lower and a few on the upper. 2 pickets, 0 used but almost fell into a crevasse several times above the ice cliff. 7.7mm 37m rope for simul-climbing. Approach Notes: Didn't rope up or use crampons until the ice cliff. Can't ski all the way to the parking lot anymore. Edited July 19, 2014 by lukeh Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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