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Bryan Nash

[TR] Mount Rainier - I.G. - Gibraltar Ledges 1/31/2015

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Trip: Mount Rainier - I.G. - Gibraltar Ledges

 

Date: 1/31/2015

 

Trip Report:

My longtime climbing and skiing partner, Jeremy Lupp and I took a gander at the weather early last week and decided it would be a good idea to ski Rainier again. So, not wanting to miss an opportunity at 9,000 feet of vert, Jeremy hopped on a plane and flew out to Portland on Thursday, January 29th. We left downtown Portland promptly at 6:00am and were rolling into the Longmire parking lot by 8:30am to wait for the ranger office to open to secure our permits. After some encouraging beta about snow conditions above Camp Muir, we were making our way up to Paradise and were ultimately skinning out of the parking lot by 10:15am. It was a beautiful, warm day on the Muir Snowfield and we took our time getting up to the Hut, enjoying the view and spring-like temps.

 

We spent the late afternoon at Camp Muir melting snow to replenish water, cooking dinner and making plans for the next morning’s events. With earplugs secured, I was laying comfortably in my sleeping bag by 6:30pm. The evening (I’m happy to say) was generally uneventful. Other climbers were in and out of the hut, but for the most part it was quiet and my climbing partner and I got a nice bit of rest. We woke up at 2:30am and after a filling and delicious Backcountry Pantry breakfast we were gearing up for the climb. Other climbers had warned us that the Ingraham Direct route was “very broken up,” but after looking at the Beehive and Cadaver Gap, compared to the year before, we decided that we would go see for ourselves. We left Camp Muir at approximately 4:15am and were taking our first break at Ingraham Flats at 5:30am. True, a large avalanche had ripped down the I.G. perhaps a week before, but the route was largely straight-forward, if a little difficult to navigate due to the large blocks of ice left by the avalanche. By 8:45am we had reached 12,800’, where we intersected the route above the Gibraltar Ledges and were following a faint path toward the summit. We then followed a mainly direct route to the summit crater, veering slightly West. By 10:50am we were standing at the edge of the summit crater, looking across at the true summit. Finding a point out of the wind, we then began to sort out our gear and rehydrate for the descent.

 

At 11:40am, Jeremy and I clipped into our skis and began our descent off the upper mountain. The snow was in good shape, albeit wind-effected and we made a lot of fun turns, stopping to take pictures, before making it to the softer snow above the Gib Ledges. Earlier in the day, we decided to descent the Gib Ledges to avoid skiing through the avalanche debris on the Ingraham Direct. We skied as far as possible along ‘The Ledges’ before having to, once again secure our skis to our packs and put crampons on. All-in-all, we descended some 500’ through rotten snow and along volcanic rock before putting our skis back on, approximately 1,500’ above Camp Muir. The snow above Muir was frozen, yet smooth and after some fast and exhilarating skiing, we were gliding into camp at 2:20pm. After another pack job to reorganize our gear and sleeping bags, we began skiing toward Paradise and the promise of a cooler full of beers. The Muir snowfield was also in good shape and we made the 4,500’ descent in 14 minutes, skiing right to the car. It was yet another perfect weekend on Mt. Rainier!

 

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