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Trip Report    

Mount Rainier/Kautz Glacier

3 day trip up Kautz via Comet Falls with a carry over descent of the DC route

  • Sun, Aug 13, 2017 — Mon, Aug 14, 2017
  • Mount Rainier/Kautz Glacier
  • Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles

Via Comet Falls trailhead at 3,600 feet per recommendation of the ranger station as the Nisqually was quite broken up. The hike in was straight forward with a few stops for navigation in intermittent clouds. Day 1 we stayed at 9,500 feet near the base of the Turtle snowfield with a stream providing great access to water. Day 2, we slept in and moved up to our second camp at 10,800 feet climbers left of the turtle. Water was a little less accessible but still not an issue from our camp.

The downclimb / rappel at ~11,000 had a fixed line and rappel station. We were able to easily downclimb with the assistance of the fixed rope on our summit day in the dark.

We brought one 40M and one 60M 'twin' style rope for our two teams. We brought 5 ice screws and 2 pickets per team.

First of the ice steps was hard enough to accept screw placements in ice, and very solid pickets in portions of snow we found on route. We simulclimbed the first ice step

After the first ice step, it mellowed out and we regrouped. Arriving at the second ice step, we veered too far climbers left on the start and a bit low. You want to go to the tip of the 'diamond' shape in the snow to the base of the ice and continue up. As a result of our start, we ended up doing  a little extra climbing (we did not simulclimb this ice step) and at a slightly harder grade. We were able to place solid screws and pickets on route.

With the technical climbing behind us, we weaved through the increasingly broken up Kautz glacier to the Wapowety Cleaver at about 12,300 and followed it up and climbers left to about 12,900. Then,  we crossed over the cleaver to the Nisqually glacier and followed this to the crater rim. 

The DC is increasingly broken up this time of year and included a crevasse collapse the day prior to our trip start which shut down the route at that time. When we checked in, the rangers were confident that it would be repaired by the time we made our carry over. Luckily, we were able to keep in touch with a very friendly RMI guide who was also on the Kautz for updates on the DC. The route was completed the morning we made our summit attempt and we were able to use it for our descent.

The descent via the DC was straightforward and we made our way down to Muir, and then Paradise.