Post subject: Cascadian Volcano Raid part 9 0f 9 Mount Rainier
Posted: Thu May 28, 2009 1:22 pm
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:40 pm Posts: 527
After being home for less then 12 hours we were back on the road heading towards Rainier. Rainier is the Highest and most Glaciated of the Cascade volcano’s while debatable it is also considered the most technical. Our plan was to pull it off in a one day push starting at around 2:30 a.m. at Paradise. Our ascent route was going to be Ingraham Direct and we would decent the Fuhrer Thumb delivering over 9000 feet of perfect fall line. We decided that a one day push would be the best option so we could minimize the amount of gear and the hassle of finding space in the over crowded Muir snowfield and shelter (Memorial Day weekend).
After arriving at the Paradise parking lot (5’450 feet) we were surprised to find it full of cars. After doing a quick gear check Amar, Ben and I were skinning to around 2:30 am to the light of our headlamps. The snow was firm so once we arrived at the base of panorama point we decided it would be more efficient to switch to crampons so our gear went onto our backs for the rest of the trip. We made it up to Muir as the sun started to crest over the cascades so I ran up to Muir Rocks and started snapping photos of the early morning alpenglow.
The sun cresting over the Cowlitz Glacier
Alpenglow on Rainier and the Gibraltar rock
Muir was busy (we counted over 35 tents)
The Tatoosh Range and Mt Adams
Rainiers shadow over the low lands
We rested at Muir for around an hour and tried to get some sleep for about 5 minutes but decided that wasn’t going to happen. The ascent path up Ingraham Direct was so much easier then when we climbed it in early April. The path going directly to the top was obvious and packed down with only a few snow bridges along the way.
Amar heading to Ingraham flats with our Ascent path in view
Ben hiking up with Cadaver gap in the distance
Ben with Tahoma in the distance
Looking down at Goat Island and Sunrise
It was an oven on the route with no wind so it was important to stay hydrated so we took a few quick breaks along the way to melt water and refill on calories.
Resting at 12’000 feet now that’s a view.
Looking down from about 13,500 at the Central Washington cascades ( in this pic you can see The backside of Crystal Mountain, Goat Island, Tamanos Chinook pass, The Frying Pan Glacier, Mt Tahoma, The Cowlitz Chimneys Mt Aix and the Nelson range just no name a few.
The last few steps to the summit Crater
We made it onto the summit around 12:00 to find that someone had fallen into one of the steam caves and managed to break a few ribs. A helicopter was on its way up to evacuate the person inside the crater.
The summit was less busy then I expected but it was around noon (way to late for climbers but perfect for skiers). After a quick skin over to the summit proper and meeting up with TGR member powders along the way we were back to the crater rim preparing for are run down the Fuhrer thumb.
We dropped in around 1:00 to find perfect corn conditions on the upper Nisqually Glacier with no Crevasse negotiations along the way.
At around 11,500 feet we made the traverse over to the Fuhrer finger and spotted the Thumb untracked and good to go. The thumb rode amazing with great fall line and minimal rock debris within the chute all the way to the bottom.
Looking at the Fuhrer Thumb
The apron of the Thumb had some semi nasty Shrunds to deal with but with a few careful turns we were ripping down the Wilson Glacier all the way down to 6’000 feet. Once at 6’000 feet we had to make a decision wither we could ride all the way down to the Nisqually Bridge or skin up 400 feet and head to Paradise. The route down to the bridge was looking to be in bad conditions with quite a few creek crossing so we decided to skin up. I wasn’t able to traverse as high as Ben and Amar (damn snowboard) so I attempted to skin up a lower moraine. It was about 100 vert and 32 degrees, not a hard skin but as I was stomping in the skin track I started hearing a hissing sound. It took a few seconds to figure out what was going on and that the whole slope had slabbed off around 8 inched deep and 200 feet wide. I was able to stay on the surface as it took me on a ride and other then being shaken up I was unijured. I was very lucky for two reasons 1. The slope only ran for 100 feet so it wasn’t able to pick up too much snow 2. I was not in an exposed area (no cliffs). After the ride I said screw this and boot packed up the slope to Amar and Ben. Once near Panorama point I had an uneventful ski (yes I skied on the split) down to the Paradise parking lot which was the most crowded I had ever seen it.
Trip totals Ascent/ Decent 10,100 feet Around 12 miles total
We are very fortunate to have these volcanos in our backyard which host year round skiing and massive amounts of vert to be had. While the Volcano’s are great skis they must be respected. They can very easily take your life in many different ways and each year people learn this the hard way. Crevasses, Rock falls, hypothermia and getting lost in white out conditions are only a few of the hazards but when conditions line up perfect nothing can beat them. If you’ve never been out and seen the Cascade volcano’s I hope these TRs have persuaded you to make your way out here at least one time in your life.