Emmons Winthrop Glacier Route - Archive July 2006

Emmons Winthrop Glacier Route Conditions - Aug. 1st

The Emmons route remains in fair shape. Climbers will need to deviate from the current very direct boot track between Camp Schurman and the summit, however, because several very tenuous snowbridges connect this route. Climbers blindly following the boot track place themselves in harm's way. At minimum, climbers should protect the dozen or so crossings over questionable snowbridges.

Climbing rangers recently completed a more acceptable route that traverses over to the Winthrop Glacier which is in far better shape. This route also minimizes time spent below the towering loose seracs (at ~13,300') that have recently been raining down blocks of ice along the route at around 12,500'. Scope out the obvious looming seracs on the upper mountain and move quickly when in their line-of-fire. This Winthrop Glacier route, however, has no evident boot track at time of writing


If there is one thing to keep in mind it is: DON'T TRUST THE BOOT TRACK. A good trail on one day may prove a poor route the next based on the rapidly changing conditions. Routefinding is still an important piece of the climb.

If you place wands on your way up, please remove them on the way down.

THE APPROACH:

The trail to Glacier Basin and the route above up to the base of the Inter Glacier at 6800' is snowfree. The Inter Glacier remains in good shape with a good boot track leading to Camp Curtis. On the Inter Glacier watch for several crevasses which are open and a few weak snowbridges which will collapse shortly. Ice is now exposed on the first pressure ridge of the Inter Glacier and the amount of exposed ice travellers to Camp Schurman will need to negotiate will certainly increase. Right now, staying to climber's right at the breakover (@7200 ft) will minimize the amount of ice one will need to climb. Above here make a steadily rising traverse left to Camp Curtis. While ascending the Inter Glacier one cannot help but notice the giant glisade/luge track leading from the upper Inter to the ice band. Take care if you choose to partake in the more daring, higher-velocity descent track, as ankle breaks from crampons and uncontrolled tumbles on ice commonly occur here. It is best to remove crampons if glissading.

The rock and scree ramp onto the Emmons is marked on the ridge at Camp Curtis just above campsite #2 with several wands sticking out of a cairn. There is no snow on the downclimb and the final 50 vertical feet onto the Emmons may prove challenging for some as it is steep and contains
loose rubble. Scope your route and use caution here.

Once on the Emmons Glacier, take a wide berth around to the east to avoid the jumble of crevasses forming just east of Camp Schurman. Follow the track that leads you into Camp Schurman 40 or so vertical feet above the camp to avoid a dicey snowbridge.

The Winthrop Glacier route is in great shape, but has seen only a handful of climbers this season. A climbing ranger ascent of the Winthrop the week of July 19th proved quite straightforward except for the approach. The best approach is to traverse the Winthrop from Camp Schurman a few hundred yards and then drop a few hundred feet of elevation to the big ice- and rockfall debris area (moving quickly here). Then gain back the lost elevation and climb the clean snow and ice face which faces and is readily apparant from Camp Schurman. Above here the Winthrop corridor is wonderfully smooth sailing.

July 27th

The trail to Glacier Basin and the route above up to 6700' is snowfree. A short traverse from there along patches of snow will take you to the base of the Inter Glacier.

The Inter Glacier and access to the Emmons from Camp Curtis is in fine form. The Inter Glacier has a good boot track leading to Camp Curtis. Watch for several crevasses which are open on the Inter Glacier. More slots are appearing daily, especially on climbers' right of the glacier. While ascending the Inter Glacier one cannot help but notice the giant glisade/luge track leading from the upper Inter to the base. Take care if you choose to partake in the more daring, higher-velocity descent track, as ankle breaks from crampons commonly occur here.

The lower (and preferred) rock and snow ramp onto the Emmons is marked on the ridge at Camp Curtis just above campsite #2 with several wands sticking out of a cairn. This route has melted out considerably and has upon it significant loose rubble. Scope your route and use caution here. Once on the Emmons Glacier, take a wide berth around to the east to avoid the jumble of crevasses forming just east of Camp Schurman. Follow the track that leads you into Camp Schurman 40 or so vertical feet above the camp to avoid a dicey snowbridge.

The Emmons route remains in good shape. While the route has been extremely direct for the past few weeks, the suggested route now traverses toward the Winthrop Glacier to avoid the towering loose seracs (at ~13,300') that have recently been raining down blocks of ice along the route at around 12,500'. Scope out the obvious looming seracs on the upper mountain and move quickly when in their line-of-fire. It may take a few days before the new route has an obvious boot track. Even then . . . DON"T TRUST THE BOOT TRACK. A good trail on one day may prove a poor route the next based on the rapidly changing conditions. Routefinding is still an important piece of the climb.

The Winthrop Glacier route is also in great shape, but has seen only a handful of climbers this season. Our ascent of the Winthrop the week of July 19th proved quite straightforward except for the approach. The best approach is to traverse the Winthrop from Camp Schurman a few hundred yards and then drop a few hundred feet of elevation to the big ice- and rockfall debris area (moving quickly here). Then gain back the lost elevation and climb the clean snow and ice face which faces and is readily apparant from Camp Schurman. Above here the Winthrop corridor is wonderfully smooth sailing.

July 12th

Six of us set out on a one-day climb of the Emmons from White River Campground. We found conditions to be very fine, as reported by various parties in this space from earlier in the season. However, be watchful on the Inter Glacier, particularly if you choose to glissade or ski or board on the descent, as significant crevasses are starting to show (but little if any ice yet). The lower, wanded-at-the start descending traverse to the Emmons is indeed best, starting from just above site #2 at Camp Curtis, but even it is melting out rapidly and will soon be all loose rubble. Avoid a loose, shallow wet gulley just before reaching the glacier by dropping a little lower on the rubbly slope, where it is at present an easy step across. The best route is obvious if done during daylight.

There is a crevasse with a narrow bridge just yards before reaching Camp Schurman, but if in doubt, there is an easy bypass around it to climbers' left accessed by climbing a few tens of yards uphill. Above, the route in the Corridor has been pretty well trampled as if a herd of buffalo came through. It is courteous to others if when the snow is soft you try to avoid stomping out the ascent trail on your descent. Further up, a few crevasses are showing but are still rather easily bypassed, but don't trust previous tracks, as evidence is there of people stepping through soft thin bridges into the void. Although we didn't summit because we were climbing into what looked like a major developing storm, and because at least half of us had some altitude sickness issues due to a rapid ascent, a one-day climb of this route is feasible for sea-level dwellers if one is willing to put up with a touch of altitude sickness and put in a rather long day!


~ Doug McKeever (Bellingham)

July 12th

EMMONS AND WINTHROP ROUTES IN GREAT SHAPE!

The trail to Glacier Basin is snowfree for the first two miles and has easily negotiable patches of snow on the last mile.
Travel from Glacier Basin to the base of the Inter Glacier can be made on the mostly snowfree climbers' waytrail.

The Inter Glacier and access to the Emmons from Camp Curtis is also in fine form. Several old boot tracks are in, but you may want to make your own custom track that works for your team. The lower (and preferred) snow ramp onto the Emmons is maked on the ridge at Camp Curtis with several wands sticking out of a cairn. Once on the glacier, take a wide berth around to the east to avoid the jumble of crevasses forming just east of Camp Schurman.

The
Emmons route is in as good a shape as I can recall. It is extremely direct with only a few meandering end runs. Beware that the route is changing daily as the rapidly shifting Emmons opens up. The bergschrund remains easily negotiable.

The ski descent from the summit has been in fine shape. It is a bit rough for the first 1600 vertical feet, but is creamy and delighful below that if you seek out the right aspects.
Use caution on the firmer upper-mountain snowpack as there have been several impressive yardsales in the past few weeks.

The Winthrop Glacier route is also in great shape, but has seen only a handful of climbers this season.

July 2nd

EMMONS AND WINTHROP ROUTES IN GREAT SHAPE! The approach to Glacier Basin is easy and straightforward. The first two miles is snowfree and has been cleared by the Trails Crew. The last mile to Glacier Basin is on consolidated snow with a good boot track. Travel on the Inter Glacier and access to the Emmons from Camp Curtis is also in fine form with a good boot track up the Inter and an easy snow and rock ramp onto the Emmons.

There are now two snow ramps, the lower one being the preferred one. Once on the glacier, take a wide berth around to the east to avoid the jumble of crevasses forming just east of Camp Schurman.