Gibraltar Ledges Archive - 2008

Gibraltar Ledges Route Conditions - 2008

May 5th

Last Monday Ben Kurdt summited via Gibraltar Ledges. Here is his trip report:

Three IMG guides, two friends and I converged on Camp Muir with the intent to climb. We all ended up climbing together on Gib Ledges. We woke at 4:00AM(ouch, since I have not been doing too many alpine starts lately) and went wheels up at 5:25AM. We hit Camp Misery at 6:50AM and took a break. Heading into the Ledges we were well aware of the rockfall hazard from Gibraltar Rock above and the fall hazard with the steep exposure overlooking the Nisqually 1000 ft below. We made it to Camp Comfort at 12,600ft in short time and took a nice break. We made it to the crater rim at 10:50AM. On our way down, we ran into funky sun effected snow which slowed us down a bit. We definitely moved as fast as we could with Gibraltar Rock above us now getting plenty of sun to help it to toss rocks down on us. We dodged a bullet and got out from under Gib Rock unscathed and got down to Muir around 3:30ish PM. We booked it down to Paradise...
As for the route: It was in standard shape(mostly snow on ledges with patches of exposed rock/scree). The route is melting and I am guessing that it will hold for about a month(this is a rough guess) depending on the temps.
As for the snowpack: with these windows of warm spring-like weather, the southern-aspect snowpack is looking real stable. As for the north- east aspect, we dug some pits last week near Muir and found some discouraging signs (multiple Q1 sheers within the top 30 cm). But, I have not gotten up on the Ingraham Headwall (which looked pretty broken from high on the mountain) to dig a pit since all the wind loading that occurred in the beginning of last week. With all that being said, things are changing by the day. Photo by Ben Kurdt

With warm temperatures on schedule for this next weekend watch out for wet slides on steeper southern aspects. Enjoy!

April 28th

Rangers climbed the Gibraltar Ledges route along with several independent parties over the weekend. Conditions on the ledges were good with 90% snow , 5% rock and 5% alpine ice. Snow leading up to Gib Rock required post-holing knee deep. Fortunately a path had been kicked in already. The chute leaving the ledges and heading to Camp Comfort was straightforward. It involved climbing snow at 45 degrees. Above Camp Comfort the route was direct with few open crevasses. Rockfall continues to be a hazard on this route. Be sure to wear a helmet and move quickly through exposed sections.

~ David Gottlieb

Jan 23rd

On January 23rd, Bill Mickel, John Rouches, and Jon Corriveau notched the first ascent of 2008. Jon Corriveau provided the trip report and photos.

Yesterday, Bill Mickel, John Rouches, and I successfully climbed Mt. Rainier via the Gibraltar Ledges route. After a windy and cold night in the surprisingly clean public shelter at Camp Muir we departed at 6:00 a.m. with no wind. The route was very straightforward with Styrofoam snow conditions.

Above 12,500’ our route to the summit was a plumb line crossing over only three small crevasses. Our progress was swift and we reached the summit at approximately 11:30 a.m. The weather on the summit was springtime conditions; at 25 degrees F with only 5 mph winds.

Our worst conditions came during our descent of the Gibraltar Ledges. We encountered unusually warm conditions and were pelted with rock and icefall. Our crampons frequently balled up with the soft snow. We made it back to Camp Muir at 2:30 p.m. Since we were late leaving Muir, I tried to make a radio call to Dispatch to inform them of our late arrival. The radio in the public shelter did not operate despite a voltage reading of 13.6 volts. I tried several times.

We survival skied back to Paradise over the large sastrugi and reached our car just
after 5:00 p.m. I have to say that we were the luckiest three people on the planet
yesterday to successfully climb Mount Rainier on January 23 (123) with a full moon
and no wind.
Photo by Bill Mickel

For more information on the Gibraltar Ledges route, check out the 2007 and other archived reports.