Ascent of Mount Rainier on 2011-07-31

Climber: Bri Wilson

Others in Party:Jenni Schwegler
Larry Rafferty
Chris McNamara
Date:Sunday, July 31, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Rainier
    Elevation:14411 ft / 4392 m

Ascent Trip Report

Headed out from White River Campground and hiked a very well maintained trail to glacier basin. Shortly after glacier basin took a dirt trail to the bottom on the interglacier. Minimal snow until this point. Roped up at the bottom of the interglacier and ascended about 2000' to the top of the ridge (an area known as camp curtis). Descended 100 feet down to the Emmons glacier. This descent is a "climbers trail," but at this point it is tricky. Not many foot holds on steep dirt/rock terrain. Once on the Emmons it is an easy ascent to Schurmann at 9500'. Took us 6 hours to get to Schurmann (there by about 130pm). It is always pretty windy at Schurmann, especially at night, so not much sleep before the summit attempt. Left camp at 1245am, and it appears every other party at Schurmann (which was a good number) had the same idea. The route up to the summit is well booted, except for one small section that has a small flag and involves a very narrow traverse for about 100' or so through a section with crevasses above and below. Use willow wands as markers for your route, some wands already up there are in incorrect places. Anyway, there are a few noteworthy crevasse crossings that become a bit of a traffic jam for those parties that do not cross it quickly or are large (all/most are before 12000'). We lost our third rope team in the chaos. The 5 of us (one rope of 3, one of 2)continued up. Around 12000' all of the parties causing traffic jams turned around due to the weather (35mph winds and low visibility). Only 1-2 parties continued up to the summit. We continued on and were rewarded with the summit at 715am! It was about 7 degrees and extremely cold. All of us were completely iced over (my carabiners were frozen shut and any exposed skin/hair was covered in ice crystals...including my eye lashes). Had no views at the summit and couldn't even see into the crater. Used willow wands as markers on the way up, which saved us on the way down due to the poor visibility. Once lower on the Emmons (out of the crevasse area) we did some roped up glissading down to Schurmann by 1145am. On the descent from camp Schurmann to the cars we only roped up on the short patch of the Emmons, but unroped before camp curtis and glissaded down the entire interglacier (about 2000') nearly to glacier basin area. Were at the cars by 4pm.

The ascent would have been much more efficient if not for the traffic jam until 12000.' Be prepared to either leave camp at 11 or be very patient with other parties. It did not help that groups would uselessly try to pass the lines--this ended up with teams all side by side...sometimes 4 groups wide.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:10211 ft / 3111 m
    Extra Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Route:Emmons Glacier
    Trailhead:White River Campground  4400 ft / 1341 m
    Grade/Class:Grade II
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Frigid, Very Windy, White-out
Wintery, 7degrees at summit with 35mph+ winds
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:12 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:6 Hours 15 Minutes

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