Mowich Face Route Conditions - Late June
This report is by Allen Sanderson. You can find about this ascent at the following two sites (i.e visit both.) Here and here.
Approaching the Mowich from Carbon River was very straight forward. The trail from Itsup Creek is clear until Seattle Park. Above Seattle Park there is fair amount of bare ground until you reach Echo Rock, which is a great place to bivy as there is running water. Above Echo Rock is it all snow until Ptarmigan Ridge.
Descend Ptarmigan Ridge at the shoulder which about 8200' Drop down the scree slope for about 200' then start traversing the slope which is both snow and scree, staying as high as possible so you come out near the large serac towers on the left side of the glacier (several seracs have recently collapsed). The snow slopes on Ptarmigan Ridge are firm snow. Once on the glacier pass by the seracs on the broad shelf - watch for cracks After head up slope to the left of the large buttress and then cross over the top of it. This brings you to the base of the Mowich Ice fall - pass under it (recent debris) and then turn up slope to the right of the rock ridge coming down. This slope leads to the "Hourglass" on the North Mowich Headwall where a bivy can be found at about 10k. The travel on the glacier was very straight forward on great snow and had very few cracks to deal with. We bivied under rocks just left of the bergshrund under the "Hourglass" And with all the warm temps we had running water.
The hourglass is melted out but to right there is a short vertical section of ice that will gain access to the upper snow field. The snow field is 45 degree or so and was firm. If we kicked hard enough we could bust through the crust to make great steps. A few times we just punched through.
Because of the warm temps we elected not to do the aid pitch to the ice tongue so above the rock buttress at about 12k we traverse over to the Central Mowich Face. The slope has similar snow but is a bit steeper. We traversed all the way past the rock bands and turned at the corner. Some of the steepest (and exposed) climbing was found in the next 350 vertical feet with brittle 80 degree water ice to 45 degree snow covered ice before topping out on top of the Liberty Ice Cap. From there it is straight forward to Liberty Cap.
We descended the Emmons to Steamboat and the Winthrop the next morning. The lower Wintrop was in pretty good shape compared to the last time I went down it. But the warm temps bridge crossing got interesting - start early. By going down the Winthrop and traversing around we could return to Carbon River picking up the trail just above Mystic Lake.
We took three screws, three pickets, along with 4 nuts and 4 cams. Could probably leave the nuts. We simul climbed everything trading leads once.
Photos by Vince Poulin