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Ascent of Mount Rainier on 2015-02-16

Climber: Eric Gilbertson

Date:Monday, February 16, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Rainier
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:14411 ft / 4392 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mount Rainier via Ingraham Direct

February 14-16, 2015

Eric and Katie

Feb 14 – Drive to Paradise, climb to Camp Muir

Feb 15 – acclimation day at Camp Muir

Feb 16 – Summit via Ingraham Direct and return to Seattle

President’s Day weekend looked like it would have dry weather and stable snow conditions, so Katie and I decided to climb Mt Rainier.

We’d each already climbed Rainier before via the Emmons route in the summertime, but we hadn’t climbed in the winter time.

Saturday morning we drove to Longmire, picked up a permit for two nights at Camp Muir, and then drove up to Paradise. We packed up overnight gear, snowshoes, and glacier gear and started up. The route up was crowded with backcountry skiers, snowshoes, and sledders. The weather was sunny and we had a fun hike up to Camp Muir around 10,000ft.

The shelter was crowded that night with most people just camping out, but two other parties planning to summit. We were planning to spend the next day acclimating at 10,000ft, so didn’t need to get up early.

Two groups left around 12:30am, and one of them returned at 5am. They said they’d heard avalanches and that it wasn’t safe to proceed. I was skeptical, since the snow conditions were very stable from everything I’d heard. The group had tried to go up the Gibralter Ledges route, and I suspected they had actually heard seracs cleaving off the icefall on the nearby Nisqually Glacier.

On Sunday morning we slept in, then hung out outside reading books in the sun on some big rocks. We watched skiers come up and ski back down. One group of climbers was practicing crevasse rescue techniques near the camp, and made sure to let everyone around know that they were training for Denali.

In the afternoon two Polish climbers returned after successfully summitting via the Ingraham Direct route that morning. That was the route we planned to take, so it was good to hear there was a route through the crevasses on the Ingraham Glacier.

That night we went to bed early, and got up at 2am to start our climb. Katie led the way and we followed the footprints from the Polish guys. We climbed up Cadaver Gap, then went around Gibralter Rock up the Ingraham Glacier.

It was cold, but not that bad considering it was mid February. Around sunrise we took a long break to eat some food, then Katie continued leading up as the snow got icier. We eventually crested the summit around 8am, and were met with a spectacular undercast. There was a light breeze, and the air temperature was around 20F, but that was pretty balmy compared to what conditions could be like in February.

We walked around tagging all possible contenders for the highpoint, then began the descent. Katie led the way again, and we soon returned to Camp Muir. We packed up and made it back to the parking lot at Paradise in the early afternoon. Unfortunately we had left a light on in the car and drained the battery, but a friendly ranger in the visitor center helped us jump the car so we could drive back home that night.

Link to full trip report and pictures.
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