Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mt. Rainier - May 2013

Mt. Rainier via Ingraham Glacier
May 6-7, 2013

Ryan and I arrived at Paradise around 8:30 am on Monday May 6.  We began to ready our packs when a random dude asked if he could join our team and summit with us. Ryan didn't even hesitate, "Sure."  That was that.  Ryan, Kirk and now, Matt, were heading up to summit Mt. Rainier.

Skinning up Muir snowfield to Camp Muir
Eating at Camp Muir, Cowlitz Glacier and
Cadaver Gap in the background
We left Paradise at 5,400 ft. elevation for Camp Muir on our backcountry skis at 10:10 am in perfect weather.  We skinned up to Muir with no incidents.  We were at Camp Muir at 10,188 ft. by 3:10 pm.  It took us 5 hours to climb about 5,000 ft.  Not bad with 50 lbs worth of gear, clothes, food, etc. on our backs.

We attempted to get to bed early in the Muir shelter but as usual, it didn't turn out to be a good idea due to the constant movement and chatter of climbers.  Remind me to never sleep in there again.

We got up at 12:30 am, ate breakfast, melted snow, and prepared our packs and gear for the summit.
We roped up and left Muir at 2:30 am.

We easily crossed the Cowlitz Glacier and climbed up and over Cathedral Gap.  We traversed and began to cross the Ingraham Glacier with little to no visible crevasses until past Ingraham flats.  The route up Disappointment Clever was obscured by avalanche debris.  We began to make our way up the Ingraham Glacier direct route and through the ice fall area.  The route meandered through and around seracs and crevasses.  One section was very steep and very exposed with crevasses on either side.  Luckily, I lead it in the dark otherwise I would have been a bit more nervous and would have felt better with an extra ice tool.

Sunrise on the Ingraham Glacier 

The sun began to rise.  We crossed a giant avalanche path as we made our way up to the top of the Ingraham Glacier.  The thought of downclimbing the steep section in the warm sun made us a bit nervous, but we pressed on.  The sun rose behind little Tahoma as we approached 12,000 ft.  We followed the boot packed trail and occasional wands(flags) all the way to the summit.  The summit dome has a few crevasses, but otherwise it was just a simple snow climb.  The elevation slowed us down but we eventually reached the summit at 14,411 ft. by 9:30 am.  It took us 7 hours to climb from Camp Muir to the summit.  This was my second attempt and success on this route.  May is prime climbing time in the Cascades.

Mt. Rainier summit
We hiked down and remained roped up until the Ingraham flats area, where we all felt comfortable soloing back to Muir where we put our skis back on and skied down to the parking lot.  We left Muir at 3 pm.  We arrived at the parking lot at 3:45 pm.  It only took 45 minutes to descend 5 k ft!  Skiing is much more efficient and enjoyable.

Video of trip can be seen HERE!