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[TR] Mount Rainier - Ptarmigan Ridge 6/7/2015

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Trip: Mount Rainier - Ptarmigan Ridge


Date: 6/7/2015


Trip Report:

Ptarmigan Ridge is in great condition right now. Mowich Lake Road is still closed, but that just means you don’t have to do the car dance and you get a nice tour of the north side glaciers from the White River approach.


Greg M and I left the cars predawn at 3AM on Saturday. The early start let us get across the Winthrop and Carbon Glaciers in firm conditions, leaving only crampon prints. Things started softening as we headed up the Russell Glacier ~8AM but nothing too bad, maybe ankle deep snow at the worst. We got into high camp at 10,200 at the base of the route just before noon and set up our tent, rested, melted snow, and watched a pair of climbers slowly making their way up Liberty Ridge.


Looking across the Winthrop to lower Curtis Ridge. We followed the boot pack low around the ridge and found a pretty straight forward entrance down to the Carbon ~7200’.



Awesome views of the north face of Rainier from lower Curtis Ridge:



Crossing the Carbon and up the Russell was easy peasy:



Views of the impressive Ptarmigan Ice Cliff above camp and the upper part of the route to the right:



We left camp at 1AM Sunday and dropped down a few hundred feet to the bergshrund leading to snow slopes trending left as we climbed. The snow hadn’t quite frozen overnight but was still stiff enough to be secure, and also saving our calves up the 1800’ of steep snow to the big rock buttress where the route splits left/right. We chose the right hand variation. Greg leading below the buttress:



A few couple hundred feet past the buttess we reached a half pitch of water ice. The climbing was a little stiffer than we had thought it would be (AI3 maybe?). Although it might have been the elevation & isolation making it feel harder. Overall it wasn’t bad and it took screws well.



From there we traversed snow and 4th class rock and up to the short 5.4 rock step. We brought a couple nuts and a hex to protect the rock section, but didn’t use them, instead I clipped a perfectly placed angle piton, made a big reach to a jug, and pulled over the step.



After that it was just a long hike up the Liberty Cap Glacier in boot deep compacted powder:



Finally over Liberty Cap summit, down the saddle, and an easier hike up to the tippy-top in an existing boot pack. Columbia Crest cheese:



Fantastic climb, get on it, the boot pack is now in!


Side note, near the Ptarmigan Ridge high camp we picked up a pair of jackets, a camera, and a few other items that looked like they were blown off the ridge pretty recently. PM me and I’ll get the stuff back to you.


Gear Notes:

We brought pickets, screws, and an ultra-light rock rack. Didn't use the rock pro.


Approach Notes:

White River. Leave early!

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Sweet, thanks for the reminder that I need to do this route. Love the photo of the Willis Wall, one of my favorite views in the state!

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Awesome looking trip, thanks for putting this up. You may have camped too high to get the angle, but if you happen to have any photos of the Mowich face area, I'd be really interested in a glimpse. Oddly enough, I met your partner Greg a month or so ago on top of the Cooper Spur. Small world.

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Hey Nick, this is the best I got, looking down on the Mowich from the rock step around 12,000'




We saw a couple headlamps early morning descending from near Observation Rock onto the North Mowich so someone out there has some recent beta. Good luck!

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Anyone recognize any of these climbers? We found some of your gear near Ptarmigan Ridge high camp last weekend. Email me djcbellows at gmail and I'll get it back to you.



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