Ascent to Mount Rainier-Emmons Glacier on 1999-08-01

Climber: Greg Slayden

Others in Party:Glenn Morrison (Went on ahead)
Patrick (Went on ahead)
Date:Sunday, August 1, 1999
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Mount Rainier - Emmons Glacier
    Elevation:13200 ft / 4023 m
    Remaining Elevation:1211 ft / 369 m (12% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

Glenn, Patrick, and I left White River Campground, our goal to ski from the summit of Mount Rainier. It had been an unusually big snow year, so even in early August there was tons of snow and the crevasses had not opened up too much.

On Saturday, July 31 we hiked up to Glacier Basin and then up the Inter Glacier. We didn't have camping permits, so we had to stealth-camp in the rocks near Camp Curtis, a pretty low elevation for a summit camp. The weather was clear and warm, and I slept outside, passing a very uncomfortable night.

On Sunday, August 1st we got an early start in the dark, crested Steamboat Prow, descended miserable loose rock to the Emmons Glacier, and headed up the "corridor" with tons of other climbers. I was dragging today, since I had not been keeping myself in condition. It was a long slog uphill, and the altitude was getting to me. The upper Emmons was like a large bowl, and after huffing up that we reached the bergschrund that encircles the summit.

We were still 1200 feet or so below the top, but I was out of gas so I decided to wait while Glenn and Patrick cached their skis and went up to tag the summit. I had already summited the peak twice before, and we would not be skiing the icy area above the bergschund, so resting made sense to me since my goal was the ski descent.

After an hour or so Glenn and Patrick returned, wasted--they were both saying that they wished they had not gone to the summit. We all put on our skis, and soon were swooping down the corn snow of the Emmons. This was a spectacular run if only because of the scenery. My form was not the best, and I tried to give the few visible crevasses a wide berth, since we were skiing unroped.

Near Camp Schurman the crevasses were kind of close together and it was a bit hairy--I had to take my skis off a couple of times and hike. Then we had to take them off again and hike up 200 feet of ugly scree to the Inter Glacier, our skis on our shoulders. After a stop to pick up our sleeping bags and other gear at the rocks near Camp Curtis, we skied down the Inter Glacier with full packs. We got all the way down to Glacier Basin on the snow, before lashing skis to our packs for the dusty slog back to the car.

Of course, I don't reccommend skiing on big active glaciers unroped, and I wish I had been in better shape for this climb. But I still recall this trip fondly. Skiing Mount Rainier in August from 13,200 feet was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Skiing at 13,000 feet on the Emmons Glacier (1999-08-01).
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:9340 ft / 2845 m
    Total Elevation Loss:9340 ft / 2845 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Skis, Ski Poles, Bivouac
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Windy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:9140 ft / 2785 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 8940 ft / 2725 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Loss on way in:200 ft / 60 m
    Start Trailhead:White River CG  4260 ft / 1298 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:9140 ft / 2785 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 8940 ft / 2725 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Gain on way out:200 ft / 60 m
    End Trailhead:White River CG  4260 ft / 1298 m

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