Fuhrer Finger, Fuhrer Thumb and the Wilson Headwall - July 16th
Some folks tried to ski this a few days ago, check out their report over on the Kautz Glacier page. They climbed the Kautz, and descended the Finger.
The Fuhrer Finger is still skiable and climbable. You are sure to find a line down or up, but watch for rockfall later in the day. The Thumb is looking clear for a while longer, but like the Finger, look out for rockfall hazards. The Wilson Headwall is still accessible from the climbers left, but the rock bands are becoming more exposed, again rockfall hazards later in the day. Come and grab a piece of this while they are still in- season.
Fuhrer Finger and Wilson Head Wall Route Conditions - June 24
A lot of climbers were looking for updated route conditions on Fuhrer Finger this week, so here is a report that hopefully provides some useful information.
My friend Robbie and I trekked to Rainier with skis hoping to smuggly click in on the summit and ski all the way down to Paradise in paradisical corn snow, via the Fuhrer Finger. The reality turned out to be a bit different.
We camped at about the 8,600'. First, I'm awakened from a deep sleep by, "John, it's almost 3am." Then I'm awakened again, "John, it's almost 4am..." Now this is getting annoying. So, we get a 4.30am start on this route. Making our way up the FF, we notice how the sun is already hitting the upper rock, and we get confirmation of this by two rocks WHIZZING by us before we even know what's happening. Since we're really, really smart we conclude perhaps the objective hazards of FF warrant an earlier start?
The route is in great shape, with only a few minor crevasse crossings, nothing sketchy. We climbed corn snow in very warm temps anticipating the dreamy turns from the summit back to camp. We tag the summit in an icy bluster, remove crampons with wodden fingers and quickly ski back to our route. For the next 6,000' we sideslip and make sketchy turns on snow that SHOULD HAVE BEEN CORN! Instead, the temps have plummeted quickly and we end up "skiing" (and I use this term in the loosest possible meaning) refrozen pennitentes and bulletproof corn. The best turns are at the bottom of the Finger.
To add to the bliss, we get to ski crust over rotten corn with heavy packs, and find the better turns are down the frozen bed surfce that is the HUGE avalanche below the Turtle Snowfield.
So, no pics because we were just surviving and I wasn't too interested in shooting. I'm sure there are plenty of pics of this route from previous TR's. Otherwise, a very fun route, no need for ice screws. The only gear we used were ski poles and crampons, and the skis for the "descent".
The dump of snow this week and warm weather resulted in lots of avalanche activity in the area this weekend. Skiers triggered an especially large slab above the Turtle snowfield, but all parties in the area were safe of the area within minutes. Once the avy activity settles down over the next few days, this route should be good to go. Great snow conditions and climbing other than the avalanche activity this weekend.
A quick update on the routes...
Fuhrer finger and thumb are still filled with snow, expect some rock fall later in the day.
Wilson Head wall still has plenty of snow on it
~ David Gottlieb and Chris Olson
Two climbers skied the Fuhrer Finger and found good conditions overall. Snow conditions from about 9,000 to 12,000 feet were crusty. Above 12,000 it started to get firm and below 9,000 it turned to sticky slush. The bergschrund and the bottom of the finger is easily passable and looks like it will be in for a while. The approach is straight forward following the Nisqually avoiding the fan.
Dan Otter sent us this trip report about a recent attempt on Fuhrer Finger. The group also posted a video of their ski descent on YouTube.
On February 25, Anne Keller, Liam O’Sullivan, Jeff Henderson, Forest McBrian, and Dan Otter attempted an ascent of the Fuhrer’s Finger with ski descent. We departed Paradise at 4:00 a.m. and turned around at 2:00 p.m. at 12,800’ due to the late hour.
The climb started out with whiteout conditions crossing the Nisqually Glacier. As we approached the base of the Finger, we came out of the clouds and it started getting light. It had snowed about 6”, with 4”-8” on the ground, depending on the elevation and aspect. The snow was quickly sun-affected and steeper south faces began sluffing, but avy conditions were otherwise very stable. A quick pit showed several very well bonded windslabs within the top meter of snow pack. The top crust under the recent snowfall was nearly impenetrable in areas.
Winds were completely calm with no clouds above 8,000’. Despite a forecasted freezing level of 4,000’ we were climbing in base layers for most of the day.
Crevasse hazard was minimal. The only obvious cracking we encountered was on the upper mountain around 12,000’, climber’s right of the Finger.
The conditions for the ski descent were great. The snow had become a little heavier due to radiation and kept our edges from going straight to the crust. Cloud level was still around 8,000’, which made navigating the Nisqually down to the bridge interesting. We reached our car at 4:30 p.m.
The joke of the day was that this was a peace climb since IMG, RMI and AAI were all represented in the group.