Liberty Ridge - Archive

Liberty Ridge Route Conditions - June 1st...

Nothing too new report, other than some up close and personal images of the upper route. It almost looks like the ice is entirely covered. This aerial image take of the Liberty Ridge climbing route was taken on May 30th.

As for route reports, here goes...

Jeff Ward of RMI reports the following conditions (w/ edits) on May 24th. He attempted to guide the route then.

"We made it to Thumb Rock, but descended due to the amount of new snow (appox. 30cm overnight on May 22). The snow fell at decreasing temps and light winds. We were able to kick off many loose snow avalanches on our descent but had no slab development...

Access to the ridge was surprisingly easy this year. We used the left route up the glacier (not using the traversing bench at 8,200'). We gained the ridge much higher than I have in the past, starting the climb to the ridge at aprox. 8,900'. The climbing consisted of one short belayed pitch (50+ degrees for 10 meters, 25 meter pitch total) followed by easy short roping (40 degree soft snow), with good snow cover all the way to the crest. Accessing the ridge this way avoided the entire lower angle ridge climbing near the toe."
The Carbon is broken but manageable. It should last for several weeks.

Here is the May 21 report....

Most
climbers were approaching this route from Ipsut Creek Campground. The road to White River Campground is still closed (but opens on Friday). 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 Mike Gauthier and David Gottlieb

Muir Snowfield and Camp Muir - Archive

Here is a link to a bearing map provided by the NPS.
August 21, 2006

August has taken its toll on the Muir Snowfield, but the hike to Camp Muir is still fun and predominantly on snow above Pebble Creek, which has now melted out up to about 7,500ft. There is new vegetation growing in the freshly melted meadows above the Pebble Creek crossing. Please take care to stay on the trail. Hiking off the trail destroys these delicate plants and flowers. It also creates side trails that erode and encourage others to stray as well.

The snowfields above 7,500ft are getting smaller and are separated by newly exposed rocks outcropping in a few spots. There is a slab melted out with a small waterfall running down the rock at around 8,000ft. Be careful walking on the edges of the snowfields. The snow is often melted and hollowed around rocks near the surface. Be ready to fall through to the rocks in these areas.

Above the waterfall, the snowfield is more intact. There is a steeper icy section around 9,000ft, where it can be slick if conditions are frozen. If it is warmer this section is slushy and wet. The rest of the snowfield is in good shape and is straightforward. Skiing on the snow field currently is not recommended. The snow has 2-3ft sun cups, and the icy section and rock outcroppings are not appealing either. So, unless, we get a fresh dump of snow, leave the skis at home.

Sunscreen, sunglasses, food and plenty of water are a must for any trip to Muir. An extra layer of clothes is also always good since it tends to get colder the higher you get. Bring your own map or grab a handout with compass/GPS bearings from the Jackson Visitor Center before you go. Remember to bring ALL of your extra fuel, equipment, and trash back down from Muir.


~ Philip Edmonds

July 22

Snow on the way to Camp Muir has been melting fast with all the recent hot weather. Be especially mindful of staying on maintained trails during this time. The hike is almost snow-free from Paradise to Pebble Creek. There is flowing water at Pebble Creek, and at the bottom of a rocky patch at around 8000 feet, to fill water bottles. Skiers can get approx 2200' of skiing on the snowfield from Muir to Pebble Creek.

Sunscreen, sunglasses, food and plenty of water are a must for any trip to Muir. An extra layer of clothes is also always good since it tends to get colder the higher you get. Bring your own map or grab a handout with compass/GPS bearings from the Jackson Visitor Center before you go. Remember to bring ALL of your extra fuel, equipment, and trash back down from Muir.

July 13

The hike to Camp Muir has been very popular the last couple of weeks due to the sunny weather we have been having. The snow is melting quickly in the paradise meadows, so expect patchy snow until you get to Pebble Creek...no more skiing to the parking lot. From there the route up the snowfield to Camp Muir is well wanded and very well traveled. If you are planning on going up the snowfield for a day hike or to camp at Muir for the night don't forget a few essentials. Sunscreen, sunglasses, food and plenty of water are a must. An extra layer of clothes is also always good since it tends to get colder the higher you get. Bring your own map or grab a handout with compass/GPS bearings from the Jackson Visitor Center before you go. Expect soft snow on the snowfield, especially if the sun is out and always pay attention to the weather since it can change rapidly. Please remember to pack out all the trash you may generate, and help preserve the fragile vegetation by staying on marked trails or on snow.

The bearing sheet can be downloaded at this address: http://www.nps.gov/mora/climb/images/mapcompass.pdf

Camp Muir Snowfield and Camp Muir on June 3rd

There is a wind crust at about 9000 feet, along with a good boot track that keeps you from post-holing. RMI has route well-wanded all the way up.

May 21

There is great coverage all the way up. Most people are still using the winter trail up to Pan Point. Beyond that, the trail is very well wanded all the way to Muir. There has been a lot of traffic and there is a great boot pack all the way. The snow was pretty soft and in places, it was easy to posthole; however, if you stayed in the boot track, the footing was fine.


The skiing on the snowfield was excellent. There was a dusting of snow on Saturday which made for perfect corn above 8500'. On Sunday, it all froze and the snow was rock hard down to about 8500', but below that it was a wonderful 3" of soft wet snow on top of a frozen base so it was fun fast skiing.

The chute down onto the Nisqually was stellar and fairly easy to traverse back up to the main trails at the Glacier Vista overlook (we did not have to put our skins back on). There are also two really fun kickers just below glacier vista :)

All in all it's in pretty darn good shape for skiing. I would say folks don't need crampons unless they plan to travel really early or really late in the day. Skis or a board will make it lots of fun and I don't think snowshoes are that helpful since the boot pack is so well traveled.

At Camp Muir...


The Public Shelter was significantly refurbished last summer. The new interior design increases the usable space markedly. The bunks are organized to accommodate more people, as is the storage and cooking space. So far, the comments have been very positive; in particular, many expressed appreciation of the increased lighting.

If you plan to stay in the public shelter, please keep it clean! Always secure the door when leaving, as a small crack will fill the hut with snow during storms. Never leave anything (food, gas, and gear.) Also, overnight travelers should consider bringing their own shelter in case theyÂ’re unable to make it to Camp Muir, or find that the shelter is already full. At this time, the public shelter and toilet are accessible.


Please do your part to keep the mountain clean. Petrified feces and toilet paper flags strewn along the climbing routes and crusted on rocks near bivi sites are unsightly and unsanitary. Remember that everyone on the mountain melts snow for drinking water. All parties are required to pack their solid human waste off the mountain when not using the toilets at Camp Muir and Camp Schurman. Blue bags are available with climbing permits. Blue bags may be deposited in the large black barrels at Camp Muir or at Paradise. The barrel at Paradise is located in the restroom tunnel next to the menÂ’s room.

Sunset amphitheater, Liberty Ridge, Ingrahgam Direct, Disappointment Cleaver, Gib Ledges and Nisqually Icecliff

Disappointment Cleaver

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.

Ingraham Direct

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.


Gibraltar Ledges

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.

Nisqually Icecliff

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.

Nisqually Icefall

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.

Fuhrer Finger

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.

Kautz Glacier

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.

Liberty Ridge

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!!

Ingraham Direct

Ingrahm Direct Conditions May 8th 2006

David Gottlieb and I initiated the climbing ranger patrol season last week. We went to Camp Muir with Ted Cox (Camp Muir's primary maintenance man!) to open up the facilities for the summer season.

Conditions on the Muir Snowfield were hard-packed and firm (no snow shoes necessary). There was an excellent trail from the Paradise parking lot to Camp Muir. The public shelter is fully accessible and in great shape. It provided a welcome respite for many climbers, as the weather was quite severe at times. Currently, the primary pit toilet on the east side of the camp is open; there is a blue bag barrel inside. Please use the blue bags on your way up to Camp Muir and on the upper mountain.

On Friday, four local climbers successfully summited via the Ingraham Direct route. The conditions were firm with excellent cramponing up high. There was a considerable amount of route-finding to avoid a number of dicey crevasse crossings. The team felt that the route would not last much longer... Which confirms some of the reports from earlier this season... Maybe the Ingraham Direct will melt out early in 2006?

On Saturday, multiple teams attempted the summit via the same route. All were stymied by a large crevasse around 11,500 feet! Previous tracks (from the day before) were apparent on the other side of the crevasse, but a new crevasse must have opened up overnight.


Attempts to outrun the crevasse were also thwarted. One party ventured toward the Disappointment Cleaver but turned around when they spied a large lenticular cloud cap over the summit... This was an obvious sign of poor weather on the way... And they were right.

On Saturday night, a powerful storm moved across the mountain. We witnessed 60+ mph winds and intense whiteout conditions (sub 100-foot of visibility.) David, Ted and I descended in the height of the storm but were fortunate that the high winds scoured any snow accumulation off of the snowfield.

May 4th 2006

Of late, many teams have been summiting Mount Rainier. Recent events have twarted the climbing ranger efforts, but the reliable story says that the Kautz Glacier, Ingraham Direct, Gib Ledges AND Liberty Ridge are definitely in.

Joe Puryear has recently rejoined the staff for parts of the summer. He hopes to report on upper mountain conditions next week.

Disappointment Cleaver

Disappointment Route Conditions - Spring 2006

From May 24th

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. On May 12-13, a number of RMI guides spent a considerable amount of time shoveling and fixing lines on the lower cleaver. A good portion of it is well protected by ropes and pickets and there is a fixed line for the the first half, of the bottom third. Climbers should note that some of this protection may be pulled as things soften up and the trail becomes more established.

Above the cleaver the route is very direct and very quick. There is a reasonable boot track with a few notable crevasse crossings. The current route should remain for another week or more, though big crevasses tend to open up and change things. More than likely, the guide service will help to figure out alternatives.

Of interest on the summit... Someone felt it was appropriate to "place their loved ones remains IN the summit register. No bag, no box, just bone shards and dust all over the register and box." Need we go there on this one?

If you're looking for an established descent line (if you've climbed another route,) the DC is probably your best option.


Thanks John Race for the reports. All photos, unless noted, by Mike Gauthier.