Ptarmigan Ridge Archieve - 2007

Ptarmigan Ridge Route Conditions - June 18th

Here is an awesome trip report by Dan Aylward with photos by Tim Matsui, Chad Kellogg was the third climber.

After dorking with gear at the trailhead until after midnight, we finally embarked on our journey under a beautiful moonless but starlit sky. The trail to Glacier Basin was thrashed from the flooding last fall, and trying to follow the tied yellow caution tape through fallen trees, rocks and debris proved difficult in the dark. We lost the trail a few times, which slowed our progress, but we weren’t too concerned because we had plenty of time and were enjoying every minute. The trail become snow covered below the Glacier Basin camp, where we rested and ate in the last trees before the open slopes below the Inter Glacier. (Photo: below the buttress at 11,500, leading right towards the upper portions of North Mowich Face and rock gully)

May 22nd

No recent reports, but lots of recent photos. Here is a close up aerial image by Mike Gauthier of the technical portions of Ptarmigan Ridge, May 22.

If you've any recent route reports, send those along.

May 16th

Here is our first 2007 climbing conditions report for Ptarmigan Ridge. One team member shared this report asking to remain anonymous... Good news for us, b/c it's a great report and it's huge kudos to them... Here goes:

My friends and I had a very enjoyable and successful trip up the Ptarmigan Ridge last week (5/9 - 5/12). I would well argue that this route is better than Liberty Ridge: incredible high camp, relative safety from icefall (we got clobbered from breaking seracs in 2004 at about 12,500ft), aesthetic line, decent rock (!), and a snowpack generally unscoured by wind and unscorched by sun.

We approached via the White River Campground. We walked a portion of the road from the park entrance closure, but were lucky both on our way in and out to get rides from park rangers. Every one of these guys was friendly, conversational, and good company. We registered at White River ranger station and hiked the Glacier Basin trail. The trail was washed out in many parts. In some sections, particularly between mile 1 and mile 2, we were forced down onto the riverbed and had to clamber over and under log debris. We didn't have to get our feet wet, though. (image, High Camp on the on the ridge.)

At the end of the damaged section we bumped into climbing ranger David Gottlieb, who gave us very useful beta to return via an old mining path (moraine trail?) higher up on the hillside. When descending from Glacier Basin this path breaks off from the existing trail at the end of the old growth forest, right before the trail drops down to the river (this area is commonly called the "Sherwood Forest"). We followed this old path, often quite evident as an old cart track, through forest and scrub, until the path pretty much disappeared. We descended when we lost the trail and found that it dropped us within ~3/4 mile of the trailhead. This detour gets around all of the significant washouts (editors note, we're attempting to flag this trail, so stay tuned!) (Image, ascending the Russell Glacier to high camp).

Above Glacier Basin we experienced good sunny days, warm spring weather, and as expected plenty of sloppy snow after about 10am. We got up to St Elmo Pass late in the day, postholed the whole way up. The 2nd day we traversed Winthrop Glacier-Curtis Ridge-Carbon Glacier, getting a 3am start and hitting the far side of Carbon Glacier (7900ft) by about 7am. Hard frozen corn, good stuff. We then climbed the upper Russell Glacier to Ptarmigan Ridge, then followed the steep snow (slop) along the ridge crest to high camp at 10,400. This camp is extraordinary- rivals even Thumb Rock for beauty. (see photo above for high camp image, this image if of the traverse onto the technical portions of the Ptarmigan Ridge route).

3rd day we got going at 3am. Descended to cross the bergshrund at ~9,800ft, then straight up the broad snowfield to about 10,800. Knee deep powder snow pretty much the whole way, with harder snow underneath. The traverse (see photo above) from 10,800 up to the to big rock face was a mix of powder, styrofoam, and verglassed snow. Pickets made exceptional pro here. The second gully (see photo left, looking down the second gulley) was 6" packed snow on perfect water ice - great screw pro. I bet this turns to water ice later in the summer. The final gully (see photo below) started as snow then turned to water ice & rocks (50-55 degrees) followed by a 10' rock step. There's a pin in the rocks for extra pro, but also plenty of decent placements for nuts & screws. The upper Liberty Cap Glacier was uniformly shin-to- knee deep dense powder. Made for tough slogging to the summit.

The Emmons descent was uneventful. That glacier seems mostly blown out - hard styrofoam with thin patches of wind slab. All snowbridges were bomber. Aching knees. We camped at Shurman. 4th day we glissaded the Interglacier, postholed some to get to the trees, and made our way up along the slope back to the campground.

For more archieved information on the Ptarmigan Ridge route, see our 2006 reports.