Emmons-Winthrop Glacier 2010

October 6th

Conditions on the Emmons should be great right now. The upper mountain surface conditions are predominately consolidated new snow and the route should be in good shape for fall climbing.

There are no rangers staffing Schurman at this time and the toilet has been "winterized". This means if you go up there and use it, please leave it like you found it...very secure with ratchet strap fully around the structure. Remember to take Blue Bags with you, they are available at the White River Ranger Station.

The road to White River Campground should be open until October 31st or until snow prohibits keeping it open. Stay tuned to the park website for details.

Self registration is in effect all winter. Please register at the White River Ranger Station if you climb. The White River WIC will be open until mid October from 7:30 to 4:30 if you would like to register with a ranger.

September 6th

A few strong teams attempted and summited via the Emmons this weekend. Despite broken weather and some high winds the route offered good cramponing on styrofoam neve with no exposed ice. Route finding becomes difficult above the corridor with some crevasse bridges out. When in doubt trend towards the Saddle to the east of Liberty Cap. There are no wands on the route and tracks are hard to discern especially with the few inches of new snow that seems to appear every few days now.

Still, the climbing is excellent, temps are cool on the approach and things are mellow at Camp Schurman. Come up for the day or stay and climb. The Emmons is still a great climb with a fracition of the traffic of the DC.

August 19th

Climbers are still summiting via the Emmons-Winthrop Glacier route. There are two larger crevasse crossings, one about mid-way and the other at the top, on the corridor. Most parties are traversing at a mellow slope angle from the top of the corridor to the saddle between Liberty Cap and Columbia Crest, and then heading for the summit.

A few injuries have occurred with climbers trying to jump across crevasses and landing on uneven terrain. Please take caution whenever a "jump" seems necessary. Try to down climb or "scoot" whenever possible.

July 28, 2010

Not much to report in the last ten days except that it is still seeing plenty of traffic and offers a sweet direct line straight to the top.

Please stop by the ranger hut and have one of the climbing rangers point out the direct line to the summit. With so much traffic from carry-overs on the north-side routes some climbers are getting distracted and finding themselves on the saddle between Liberty Cap and the summit and adding an extra hour hike to their climb.

Please understand that despite favorable conditions and a well-worn path up the route that the potential for severe crevasse falls and weak snowbridges exists ALL THE TIME. Please use appropriate glacier travel protocols.

July 18

Over the weekend the Emmons route saw many climbers successfully summiting Mount Rainier, and fully enjoying some of the best conditions we have seen in mid-July in a number of years.

As with the rest of the mountain the Emmons route is in spectacular shape. The approach to Camp Schurman up the Inter Glacier consists of a very well worn and very direct line straight up the glacier before traversing toward Camp Curtis and continuing over onto the Emmons and into Schurman or up to Emmons Flats. Early travel is recommended during these warm days to avoid postholing in the deep sloppy snow. Even before noon the glacier is getting warm enough to make travel slow.

As of now there are no open crevasses on the Inter Glacier. The Emmons, however, is starting to have some larger crevasses open up on the approach to camp, and roped travel is recommended at all times. The Inter Glacier is still very skiable to just above the glacier basin camp, and many people were out enjoying the July corn.

The route above Schurman is still as direct as it can be. Climbers have been gaining the corridor by one of three large ramps above Emmons Flats, and from there going basically straight up the rest of the route. There are a few crevasses to navigate around between 12,500' and 13,000', and then it is smooth climbing to the summit, with most climbers still choosing to go directly over the bergschrunds as opposed to traversing to Liberty Saddle. The 'schrund crossings are all very solid right now and should stay that way for the near future. Once above the 'schrund continue on to Columbia Crest, take a photo, high five and return the same way, or descend via Liberty Saddle for a little variation.

Come on out and stop by the ranger hut for all the latest info!

July 10, 2010

Summer has finally arrived on the upper mountain! Freezing levels for the past week have been between 11,000 to 14,000 feet during the night providing for exceptionally comfortable climbing conditions and summit cat-naps.

The Emmons route remains in stellar condition with only minor crevasse negotiation near the top of the route. From the top of the Corridor the route trends slightly right until crossing the first bergschrund directly and skirting the second a little farther right. Snow conditions have been perfect for cramponing in the early morning and softening significantly by the afternoon.

Ski conditions from the summit have been quite variable at best above 12,500ft. but creamy below. The skiing on the corridor has been particularly good and skiers from around the country have been showing up in droves as of late.

Also, be advised that the Glacier Basin trail has melted out all the way to the Glacier Basin campsites and the new re-route section of trail is due to open any time. This new section of trail will likely still be under some sort of fine tuning so please be respectful to the trail crew when passing and don't just "play through" without letting them know you are there.

June 27, 2010

Excellent skiing and climbing conditions!! The Emmons is super-direct and can be skinned virtually the entire way to the summit. Snow has melted out from the White River Campground but ski mountaineers shouldn't be discouraged. Carry your skis until the snow coverage is adequate and come up for some great touring out of Schurman or punch it to the TOP for a summit/ski descent. Regardless, flotation is encouraged once past Glacier Basin. For a great wilderness experience take as many days as you can up here to facilitate a comfortable and relaxed acclimatization and enjoy the excellent scenery surrounding the Emmons-Winthrop.

Remember, the route is typically not guided or wanded, leaving it up to you to route-find and decide which way to go. For extra fun think about climbing and skiing multiple routes from Schurman. Crisscrossing the mountain on skis will reduce your carbon footprint, so you could even park at Longmire, take the bus to Paradise and carry over the top, cruise down the Tahoma, and use your best mountain smile to get back to your car. - options abound! Enjoy the late spring corn harvest

June, 18 2010

Super clean line up the Emmons/Winthrop. Lots of groups made it to the summit last weekend.

Looking down from the prow last weekend and the route up to Emmons flats.

Looking up the Inter-Glacier


June 11, 2010 ~ Straight Shot

The Emmons route (as seen in this most recent photo) remains to be in stellar condition although few parties have had good enough weather windows to summit thus far this season. The route basically follows the fall line of "the corridor" all the way to the top where a short dog-leg right will get climbers around a short ice step, then straight again to the summit. It is not every year that the June version of the Emmons route is in such incredible shape with only moderately objective hazards from above.

On the topic of snow stability... it seems as if we are finally going to be getting our first shot of summer this weekend after much anticipation. With the warmer trending weather and freezing levels rising, it will be imperative for climbing parties to get early starts from Camp Schurman as the potential for avalanche activity will be likely to increase drastically in the afternoon sun.

Perhaps a more real, yet underestimated concern, is on the approach via the Inter Glacier...There has been daily avalanche activity coming off the steep slopes of Mt. Ruth and the other steeper, rock lined areas adjacent to the Inter Glacier approach. Most climbing parties traveling to Camp Schurman have been wise enough to give these areas and run-out zones a wide birth sticking to the very center of the Inter Glacier where there has been no observed avalanche activity making for much safer travel. The skiing conditions on the Inter Glacier have been quite phenomenal as of late, and skis can currently be kept on approximately a mile below Glacier Basin during the descent making for a quick trip out. If planning to camp at the Glacier Basin campground on the approach, there has been one pit toilet dug out that is ready for use, although all tent camping remains on snow.

See you on the mountain!

June 9 2010

After a week of storms intermixed with beautiful sunny days, the mountain is snow covered and ready to be climbed. The Emmons Glacier with its relatively low objective dangers has been a great route to the summit for many parties recently, even throughout the stormy weather we have been receiving. Teams have been summiting via the Emmons on a regular basis and it seems the most successful parties have planned on spending two or three days at Schurman waiting for the best opportunity to hit a weather window and go for the top. The extended trip also offers advantages of just being able to soak up the scenery and enjoy your surroundings. It's way better up here than at your office.

Currently the route itself is as straightforward as it gets. There is snow everywhere and very few open crevasses to navigate through. The route ascends from Schurman to the corridor and then basically straight up with variations going either left or right around the seracs above 12,000'. Parties have been forgoing the long traverse to Liberty Saddle and climbing directly to the top crossing the bergschrund on either of the two large snow ramps. Early travel helps to avoid the postholing that will eventually happen when all that new snow gets direct sun exposure or when the temps warm up.

The approach to Schurman is in great shape going straight up the Inter Glacier, over Camp Curtis and up the Emmons. This is another trip that is best done early in the day to avoid the warm sloppy afternoon snow conditions. Be wary of the steep slopes on Mount Ruth and Ruthless ridge that like to send wet point release avalanches down into the basin on warm days after new snow. That being said the skiing conditions on the Inter Glacier have been exceptional lately. Come check it all out.

June 2

This is a picture looking up the Emmons from mid-way up the "Corridor". The route is in great condition with no open crevasse crossings yet. There is great skiing at this time.

The Inter Glacier is also looking great with no open crevasses. Point-release slides are evident on the cliffsides as well as some large slides off Mt. Ruth.

There is still lots of snow on the trail up to Glacier Basin, but also lots of dirt patches are appearing so don't put your skis on until you get up about 2 miles.

Park in the climber/day-use parking lot at White River Campground.

Registration is at the White River Ranger Station.

Sun - Thur 0730 - 1630

Fri 0700 - 1900

Sat 0730 - 1630


Emmons-Winthrop Glacier 2010 - May 28

The road is open to White River campground, please park in day use parking. The trail up to glacier basin is mostly snow free. New snow this week, so bring your skis if you have some. The route is in good condition. Expect deep snow drifts on the upper mountain and Inter-Glacier.


Emmons-Winthrop Glacier 2010 - May 25

Here's a trip report from last weekend:

Trip report Emmons-Winthrop 5/22 - 5/24:
I picked up my buddy Joe from N. Carolina at SeaTac Friday night and we headed to White River Saturday morning. Contrary to the information given to me by the park service on Friday, the gate was closed, but Dave Gottlieb was there in a truck and let us in and got us checked in for the climb.
The route from the campground to Glacier Basin was in pretty rough shape and took a long time in our rando boots. Patchy snow, sketchy bridge coverage, lots of post holing while carrying our skis. We saw 3 other skiers and one boarder coming back from day trips to the Interglacier. All reported good skiing, but said the vis had gotten really bad. When we came out of the woods at Glacier Basin we could see maybe 50 yards and it got progressively worse. We decided to camp in Glacier Basin rather than heading to Schurman that night.
Sunday was more of the same. We headed up the Interglacier and got a few degrees off line in the fog and ended up on climber’s far right at the top of the Interglacier. I had only been up to Schurman once before and was having trouble visualizing where we were in the fog. It finally cleared a bit and I could see where we were well enough to head to Schurman. We descended and then started climbing back up to Schurman and then the sun broke through and the skies cleared completely.
It got very cold when the sun went down but no wind to speak of. We got up a little after 2 a.m. (too late in hindsight) and ran into some stove issues. It took a couple hours to get the stove fixed, melt enough snow for water and gear up, but it was a beautiful day for climbing. Joe had a flight to catch that night so we set a noon turn around time. We started skinning up the Corridor and made pretty good time for the first 1,500 ft or so. Then we started hitting patches of ice and wind blown hard pack that was pretty slippery on skins. Joe took a little slide as we were turning (we were roped) so we decided to switch to crampons. The conditions were pretty variable and we ended up going from ice to mid thigh post holing back to ice. At around 12,000 we started running into small crevasses that were very hard to spot with all the windblown snow ridges around and we slowed down considerably. After punching through a few times, we then tried switching back to our skis to speed up our progress through these small crevasses a bit but the angle and the surface conditions slowed us more. We got to about 12, 500 and realized we were never going to make the summit before our turn around time, so we decided to enjoy the skiing, have lunch and head down at a leisurely pace. So, we did not summit, but I think if we had had another night to stay at Schurman we would have made it up no problem. From what we could see above us, the route is fine – it just takes a lot of time due to snow depth etc. (at least for us).
The ski down to Schurman was good with the last 800 ft or so being excellent. We packed up and headed to the Interglacier and the skiing there was outstanding. There was evidence of some small slough off slides on skier’s right but nothing major. All in all the snow pack seemed pretty stable for our whole route.

May 5

Hwy 410 (Chinook Pass) is now open so you can get as far as the turn off to the White River entrance. Leave your car on the north side of the road behind the monument. The road up to White River Campground is snow free (5 miles). We are planning to open the road by May 21st, but check here for updates as we may get it open a few days early. Twenty- four hour self-registration is still in affect at the White River Ranger Station a half mile past the closed gate.


Emmons-Winthrop Glacier 2010 - April 20th

No reports yet, but the route should be in great shape. Check out the road access and registration info below.

White River Approach:

Currently the road is closed at the park boundary on 410. You can park in the snowplay parking lot and start your climb there; turn left on Crystal Blvd and the parking lot is just to your right. (Do NOT park in front of the gate on 410 itself - you may be towed). Self-registration is available 24 hours a day at the White River Ranger Station.

Highway 410/123 may be open as early as April 30, check with the Washington state DOT web site for more up-to-date info.