The route is in excellent shape. There is a well-established boot track to Ingraham Flats. Access onto the cleaver was surprisingly easy and straight forward (see image to right.) Once on the cleaver, follow the well-defined climbers path. Last Saturday, a number of RMI guides spent a considerable amount of time shoveling and fixing lines on the lower cleaver. At this time, a good portion of it is well protected by ropes and pickets.
There is a reasonable boot track above the cleaver, with a few notable crevasse crossings. The current route should remain for another week, though crevasses will open up and change things. More than likely, the guide service will figure out alternatives.
If you're looking for an established descent line (if you've climbed another route,) the DC is probably your best option. All photos, unless noted, by Mike Gauthier.
For the most part, this route is largely "out." A VERY circuitous line may exist, but it's a wild one and would take quite a bit of time to negotiate. One climber at Camp Muir pointed out that the glacier "could" still be climbed, however, he climbed the DC instead. Note in this photo taken from the DC, crevasses riddle the ID.
Numerous climbers have been ascending and descending this classic line. All have pretty much said the same thing, "What a great route, and it's in GREAT shape." They are reporting firm snow conditions and excellent cramponing. A few have commented that there is little to protect the thin traverse, which is roughly 1/2 way up the ledges. Also, there is a great boot track up the Cowlitz Glacier from Camp Muir. Most teams are now descending the DC.
It was climbed this weekend and the route still looks great. Two climbers left early on Monday and made good time getting up the technical sections. Access to the route went very smoothly, there was a short steep step to get off the glacier and onto the ice cliff.
From that lower bergshrund, the team climbed 40-50 ice/snow to the upper Nisqually. The climbers stated that the most time consuming and dangerous part of the route was the upper Nisqually Glacier. They encountered a number of dicey crevasse crossings. Note that their climbing line did not connect w/ the upper portion of the DC route till almost 13,500 feet.
Forget it. Well, I suppose that someone could do this route, but I can't say it's worth the risk."A route"up the glacier would be very circuitous and dangerous. Note massive slides.
Let's face it, Mizuki Takahashi is having a good year on Rainier. She had fun soloing Gib Ledges this spring in prep for Mount Hunter.
Climbers have been avoiding "The Fan" and ascending the west side of the Nisqually Glacier (which was easily crossed.) Crossing the Wilson Glacier was also relatively easy since few crevasses had opened. There are about 10 snow free campsites near Camp Hazard between 9,400 feet and 11,600 feet.
As for the ice sections, there was one steep section of ice, (10 feet) followed by another 200 foot section (though not as steep.) From there to the summit was rather straight forward, but watch out for crevasses. Thanks Francis for the report.
Sunset Amphitheater Couloir
It was climbed this weekend by two accomplished climber/skiiers. Access to the amphitheater was very straight forward. They climbed Tahoma Creek Trail to Emerald Ridge. From there, they hopped on the Tahoma Glacier and ascended to 11,300 feet (above St. Andrews Rock.) The pair moved north into the amphitheater to take on the couloir.
As it turned out, the couloir was stiffer than expected. Sky reported a, "spicy 30m pitch near the top, beautiful alpine ice kinda thin over rocks. It was easy fun climbing, but interesting because it was too shallow for pickets and too rotten for screws." I.e. don't fall.
After completing the route to Liberty Cap, the two by-passed Columbia Crest and skiied "The Sickle" down the Tahoma Glacier. 25 hours car to car... Wow! Thank you very much and have a nice day.
Most climbers are approaching this route from Ipsut Creek Campground. The road to White River Campground is still closed. There is solid snowcover above Dick Creek Camp.
Access the Carbon at 7,200 feet, easy. Most climbers are skipping the lower ridge; instead, they reach Thumb Rock camp from the west by directly climbing the 35-45 degree snow snow slope. BTW, climbers have been reporting rock fall in this section and at Thumb Rock. Some have been sleeping w/ their helmets on, and another reported a tent ripped by rockfall!!
From Thumb Rock up, most teams have been taking the left access and avoiding the icy chute to the right. The chute, however, looked good by all reports; it was filled with Styrofoam snow. Our team found firm snow in the left variation, which made for solid boot kicking up and until the Black Pyramid (about 3-5 inches of boot purchase.) Once on the Black Pyramid, the snow became quite stiff (i.e. excellent cramponing, either French Tech or front-pointing with minimal purchase.)
The final icy pitches near the summit were interesting. There are numerous variations in which to finish the route. Our team reported 55 degree ice over snow. The bergschrund was a serious crevasse to negotiate too, so bring the rope.
It seems that many teams have been taking crevasse falls between Liberty Cap and Columbia Crest; heads up in that area. Liberty Ridge photos by David Gottlieb
Send us your reports, we'd like to get your thoughts!!