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Trip Report    

Mount Rainier/Emmons Glacier

07/03/2015-07/05/2015. We started from the white river TH around 10:30. One student decided to leave the helmet home since he had done multiple climbs including this route without a helmet. We made him drive to Green Water and get a helmet and catch up with us at Camp Curtis. So we took our time hiking to Camp Curtis and took a long break there waiting for the said student. There is no snow till the base of inter glacier. Inter Glacier has some cracks, nothing too serious to ensure roping up but be aware, especially on the descent when you are glissading. Descent from Camp Curtis to Camp Shurman is a little tricky with a narrow snow bridge to cross. Wouldn't be surprised to hear that bridge is gone in a few days, at which point, you may have to descend from Steamboat Prow.
We got to our camp at Emmons Flat a little before 7. Given the warm conditions, we wanted to start ascent fairly early, and we didn't want to do that on a 2-hour sleep. So we decided to stay at the camp for another day to rest and acclimatize, which I think was the best decision we made on this trip.
Fully rested, we started the ascent at 10pm on Saturday. We watched sunset and fireworks on our way up. There are a couple of places you need to cross thin snow bridges or step across a crevasse. There is one place the step across/leap is about 3 ft. We had everyone in arrest position before the leader leaped. Once crossed, the leader placed a picket and gave everyone a belay. Route finding is relatively straight-forward. There is a well established path. Just be aware that the conditions are changing fast. A boot path a few days old may not lead to a viable crevasse crossing. If you have an expectation of late August conditions, you wouldn't be too surprised. At 13500 ft, 4:20 am, one team member got altitude sickness and it hit rather fast. They started vomiting and the heart rate was a bit fast. We were very clear it wouldn't get any better if we pressed on. We wanted to descend as soon as possible. We also didn't want to send just one rope down given the conditions of the glacier. So we turned around both ropes despite being on track of a good shot at the summit. Our turn around point is right before you come around the corner towards the Liberty Cap saddle. Based on my past knowledge of this route, we had passed all the major obstacles. So overall, I'd say the route is still in a satisfying condition as long as you adjust your expectation based on this year's lack of snow and warm temperatures. Most trip reports and the info I got from the rangers are a bit exaggerating. We had 6 pickets between the 8 of us. We placed 2-3 times. So we probably could have gotten away with carrying 3-4 pickets. I had two screws in my pack and we placed none. I don't expect to see any half solid ice to place ice screws any time soon even if the warm trend continues. So leave your screws home. They will do you no good other than a false sense of security.
The descent was uneventful. The sick team member recovered well enough as soon as we got down 1000 ft. After a short rest at the camp, we started the descent around 9:30. We decided to ascend Steamboat Prow from Shurman to avoid roping up. This was the first time I had done it. It's some serious loose choss. Helmet and light footing were essential. After getting back to Camp Curtis we glissaded the whole Inter Glacier and made a fast descent. Again, be careful of the open cracks. We got back to the car a little after 2pm.
Despite of the lack of a summit, we all had fun and everyone made out safely.

 

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Deling Ren
Deling Ren says:
Mon, May 23, 2016 11:46 AM

<p>07/03/2015-07/05/2015. We started from the white river TH around 10:30. One student decided to leave the helmet home since he had done multiple climbs including this route without a helmet. We made him drive to Green Water and get a helmet and catch up with us at Camp Curtis. So we took our time hiking to Camp Curtis and took a long break there waiting for the said student. There is no snow till the base of inter glacier. Inter Glacier has some cracks, nothing too serious to ensure roping up but be aware, especially on the descent when you are glissading. Descent from Camp Curtis to Camp Shurman is a little tricky with a narrow snow bridge to cross. Wouldn't be surprised to hear that bridge is gone in a few days, at which point, you may have to descend from Steamboat Prow. <br />We got to our camp at Emmons Flat a little before 7. Given the warm conditions, we wanted to start ascent fairly early, and we didn't want to do that on a 2-hour sleep. So we decided to stay at the camp for another day to rest and acclimatize, which I think was the best decision we made on this trip. <br />Fully rested, we started the ascent at 10pm on Saturday. We watched sunset and fireworks on our way up. There are a couple of places you need to cross thin snow bridges or step across a crevasse. There is one place the step across/leap is about 3 ft. We had everyone in arrest position before the leader leaped. Once crossed, the leader placed a picket and gave everyone a belay. Route finding is relatively straight-forward. There is a well established path. Just be aware that the conditions are changing fast. A boot path a few days old may not lead to a viable crevasse crossing. If you have an expectation of late August conditions, you wouldn't be too surprised. At 13500 ft, 4:20 am, one team member got altitude sickness and it hit rather fast. They started vomiting and the heart rate was a bit fast. We were very clear it wouldn't get any better if we pressed on. We wanted to descend as soon as possible. We also didn't want to send just one rope down given the conditions of the glacier. So we turned around both ropes despite being on track of a good shot at the summit. Our turn around point is right before you come around the corner towards the Liberty Cap saddle. Based on my past knowledge of this route, we had passed all the major obstacles. So overall, I'd say the route is still in a satisfying condition as long as you adjust your expectation based on this year's lack of snow and warm temperatures. Most trip reports and the info I got from the rangers are a bit exaggerating. We had 6 pickets between the 8 of us. We placed 2-3 times. So we probably could have gotten away with carrying 3-4 pickets. I had two screws in my pack and we placed none. I don't expect to see any half solid ice to place ice screws any time soon even if the warm trend continues. So leave your screws home. They will do you no good other than a false sense of security. <br />The descent was uneventful. The sick team member recovered well enough as soon as we got down 1000 ft. After a short rest at the camp, we started the descent around 9:30. We decided to ascend Steamboat Prow from Shurman to avoid roping up. This was the first time I had done it. It's some serious loose choss. Helmet and light footing were essential. After getting back to Camp Curtis we glissaded the whole Inter Glacier and made a fast descent. Again, be careful of the open cracks. We got back to the car a little after 2pm. <br />Despite of the lack of a summit, we all had fun and everyone made out safely.</p>