Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Tahoma/Emmons

A beautiful climb and successful (cold and windy) summit for all!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Last water around 6550'  in Glacier Basin. Camp Curtis free of snow, a few sites still muddy. Crevasses opening up on lower Interglacier. Large crevasse on Lower Emmons about 70' climber's right below Camp Schurman. Crevasses opening up on upper mountain. Snow bridge over large crevasse collapsed Saturday eve, causing rangers to create a re-route. Bergschrund crossing at 13,600 protected by pickets. Rapid snowmelt due to warm and sunny days created a post-hole nightmare from 10k back to camp. Be wary of melting snowbridges and rapidly changing conditions, timing is everything!

A beautiful, successful Saturday climb of the Emmons Route. Camped @ Camp Curtis, most sites there were dry, a few at the top of the ridge were muddy. A few bivied in the snow next to the rocks. Last running water was around 6550' in Glacier Basin before hopping onto the Interglacier. A few crevasses/snow bridges are beginning to open up at the bottom of the Interglacier, including one going across the boot track. Stay mindful and don't tramp all over the meadows, there is a stream and a few snow bridges that are deteriorating quickly towards the end of the Glacier Basin trail.

Hit the trail around 915a with a party of 9 on Friday morning, arrived at Camp Curtis around 3p and set up camp. Tried to filter as much water as we could at the stream to avoid having to spend the time to boil so much at camp. Some of the party was slow so we took a few breaks on the way up and sent up a faster team of 3 to dig out camp since we heard it was entirely covered in snow. Completely unnecessary since it wasn't snow-covered so we didn't save time there. Headed to bed around 6 for a 12a wakeup and were all rudely awakened by 3 skiers at 9pm shining headlamps into our tents, talking loudly, using a loud radio then tromping all over the ridge next to our tents trying to find their own spot. We tried to get them to be quiet and they ignored us. Then they started arguing loudly with eachother, and finally, at around 1030p they shut up. We would have left then for our summit bid since we weren't getting any sleep but there was a whiteout on the mountain so we rested a bit and were boots on the ground, roped up and ready to go from camp at 115am Saturday. Turns out they pitched their tents in the muddy spots and moved our ropes around that we had set up at the top of the rock ridge for the summit bid. Very inconsiderate.

Descended down to the Lower Emmons using crampons, roped up, there were a few crevasses, including a rather large one climbers right of the bootpath about 70' below Camp Sherman. Made it here in 53min from Camp Curtis. Route straightforward through Emmons Flats and up the Corridor until about 11500' where you pass through a maze of gnarly crevasses and, higher up, across a rather large one via snow bridge (I heard this doesn't exist anymore as of 5p Saturday evening and has been rerouted by rangers). Around 13500' there is a bergschrund that we protected with a few pickets. Above the bergschrund are a few crevasses but nothing major. On a snack break unfortunately one of our climbers lost his helmet and headlamp to the crevasses below as he clipped it to his ice axe and the axe blew, sending it turtling into the abyss below. Lessons learned: always make sure everything is completely attached to something solid, esp. on icy snow! The last 1500' or so were extremely cold and windy, we summitted at 10a on Saturday to glorious skies and bitter cold/wind, and didn't stay too long before heading back down.

Wind basically blew over a lot of the tracks even in the short time we were up there so make sure you check your GPS to make sure to follow the route you took up back down so you know where to access the route down to the bergschrund. Our first team placed pickets to protect the downclimb into the bergschrund then ran into two skiers on their way up, the first team allowed them to head up before the other two teams headed down which was a mistake, b/c what we thought would be a quick pass ended up taking them 10+ minutes messing around and not knowing how to properly attach a boot crampon, while we were waiting in a pretty sketch area below the crevasses and in front of a giant gaping chasm with cracks running out of it, in the only solid spot we could stand immediately off climber's right of the bootpath. Finally, they passed, crampon dangling from boot, and we were able to go down. Clipped a picket above and downclimbed to the snowbridge over the bergschrund, punching my hand into the melting snow for leverage and trying to kick steps that had been blown out to get down to the snow bridge. It was a bit spicy and melting out fast. The snowbridge we passed on the way down was on the way out as well, and we protected that with a picket. Later we learned it collapsed around 5pm so timing is everything. More crevasses were opening up in the sun of the day on the way down and we vascillated between extremely icy sections and punchy postholes until the corridor, where it was just posthole city, which made for a giant slog on the way down through the Lower Emmons and up to camp. Reached camp around 330p Saturday, had to amp up the motivation to get people moving on the way down! Went to bed early, woke up around 2a Sunday to HOWLING winds that lasted until we left camp around 8a and crested the ridge down onto the lower Interglacier. Used crampons briefly from camp but then the snow became super punchy so removed the crampons. Didn't rope up. Some of our party opted to glissade, the rest scouted the route for crevasses to make sure it was ok, but plunge stepping took almost as short a time as glissading anyway. Cracks opening lower Interglacier as mentioned above. Ran into another group of friends on the way down, who also had a successful summit. Was sunny and warm on the way out, hit the cars around 1115a. An overall fun trip with a great group of people!