Ingraham Direct 2010

Ingraham Direct - July 22nd

No climbing teams have been passing through the Ingraham Direct route for the past week. The Disappointment Cleaver route has now become the standard route from Camp Muir to the summit. See the Disappointment Cleaver route beta here.

July 6th

With all of the warm weather over the last couple of days, and predicted freezing levels above 14,000 feet for the week to come, don't expect the Ingraham Direct to stay "in" past this week. Guide services have already been doing maintenance on the Disappointment Cleaver route, getting it prepped for future climbers.

The crux of the Ingraham Direct is the large crevasse opening at 11,600. A ladder is currently spanning the gap, but is losing purchase on both sides as the crevasse continues to widen.

Also, higher on the Ingraham Glacier, around 12,000, there has been recent serac/ice fall activity. Try not to take breaks underneath these ice blocks.

To the right is a photo of the ladder that spans the crevasse.

June 24th

The route is incredibly straight forward and fast right now. Teams have been going up to the summit from Camp Muir in faster time than they've gotten to Camp Muir from Paradise.

With all of the warm weather the snow on the ID has been softening up earlier in the day. Try to plan climbs accordingly - so your team is down before they're post-holing through slush and weak crevasse bridges. Look to the freezing level and cloud cover as indicators of how slushy the route will become.

June 15th

The ID is back in business!! Both guided groups and independent parties enjoyed excellent cramponing and sunshine on the upper mountain this weekend taking the route all the way to the summit. While conditions above 13,000 feet still had cold winter-like conditions climbers found no trouble making their way to the TOP of the Mountain.

(American Avalanche Institute owner Sarah Carpenter discusses conditions with IMG guides at Camp Muir)

While there was much concern over avalanche conditions during the past week extreme solar radiation penetrated the snowpack resulting in stabilizing conditions. This weather pattern relegated avalanche concern to just one of many objective hazards found in virtually all types of mountaineering. Concerns include but are not limited to serac hazard, climber slip and fall, crevasse hazards, weather, altitude, poor planning and preparation, rockfall, and yes, avalanche... Please understand that objective hazards will ALWAYS exist; it is up to the individual party to mitigate or minimize those hazards. That said, the route has been kicked in, wanded and climbed regularly over the past few days. Come on up and CRUSH IT!!!

June 13th

Ok, folks. Here's the deal! Camp Muir has been getting some sun for the last couple of days. Temperatures were creeping up into the 40s today. There was very little wind until midday. Philippe and I went up onto the flats at around 10:00 a.m. and up onto the first hill above the flats at around 11,500 feet.

There hasn't been a whole lot of new precipitation on the upper mountain in the last two days. Today the first independent groups headed up above the top of the Disappointment Cleaver. A few folks braved the winds near the top and summited.

Philippe and I dug a pit and did a pretty complete profile. There is that pesky layer of graupel down about 35 cm, but we couldn't get anything to move with a compression test or an extended column test. We did do a fully isolated rutschblock, and we did get it to fail on the first hop (rb4), but the failure was very poor, Q3, broken, and only the partial block. This was a 35 degree slope.

Granted, there's a great amount of spatial variability on the glacier... The ski penetration, even during the heat of midday, was only an inch or so. The boot penetration was about 15 cm. The top 10-15 cm was sun-affected and starting to get a little wet. Crampons were balling up. The guide service (RMI) went by us when we were digging our pit. Two guides were doing a reconnaisance to establish a new route up the Ingraham.

Here's a pit profile.

There's been a lot of these snowpits dug up high lately. In all my time at Mt. Rainier, I can't think of when I've known of so many people really worried about the avalanche conditions in June to this extent. This alarm is well warranted, indeed, it may be time to start making these pits a little more part of the operation while we're climbing. However, it's difficult to put these data into perspective because not many of us have made a habit digging full snowpits above 11,000 feet this time of year. It's hard to say what we've been climbing on all these years anyway.

Stick with what we know and fundamentals we've learned in training. It's been a cold and wet spring. The upper mountain has received a lot of snow in May and early June. We need to be wary of avalanche conditions. However, after a few days of warm, clear weather, it's time to start thinking about getting up the hill.

If you take a look at the historical data and compare it to the current snowpack at Paradise, you'll quickly see that we're almost 140% of normal. This is a huge snowpack for this time of year. We really made up for the drought this winter. As we've placed the glacier stakes this spring for the mass/balance studies, we've observed that there is at least a meter more snow than usual for this time of year (7.5 meters compared to 6.0 meters in the standard places).

This means that the less common / non-standard routes that so many of us love to climb may stay in shape longer. Gib Ledges look great, which is crazy for this time of year! The Ingraham is largely unbroken; this is about the time of year when we go over to the DC, but we'll be on the ID for a while yet. The Kautz looks sweet. Nisqually Ice Cliff is doable still. The Emmons-Winthrop looks awesome! The Finger looks nice.

The weather over the next 48 hours looks good. The snow got baked today up to about 12,000 feet. This is good. Over the next 48 hours, colder air is moving in, and there will be a marine layer in the sound.

So be cautious, but be out there! Take a shot, but take it all in and consider all the variables.

Ingraham Direct - June 9

After a major avalanche on Saturday, June 5th, there's been significant wind loading again on the Ingraham Direct. Snow pits dug at the base of the headwall on the route (approx. 11,500') are finding a couple of noteworthy layers. See the NWAC website for special warnings and pit profiles at Mount Rainier.

See the photo to the right of the Ingraham Glacier taken from Ingraham Flats on June 8th - after the major avalanche.

Also, please check in with the rangers at the Paradise Climbing Information Center and Camp Muir when you arrive for your climb.