Fuhrer Finger 2011

September 19th

This route is seeing very little traffic as of late. A large section of bare rock in the gut of the finger has running water will require a few storm s to fill in. The 3 inches of snow we got over the last few days is just a start. Climbers have reported that they bypassed the waterfall on some moderate mixed terrain.
The Van trump approach, starting at Comet Falls is a good choice for this time of year. You will start from a lower altitude, but you'll get a pleasant walk transitioning from forest to alpine
Carrying over and down the DC is recommended due to rockfall concerns.

August 11th
Although we didn't climb the route, while passing by the Fuhrer Finger and Thumb the access couloirs did not appear to be in good shape. Rock fall looks to be a significant objective hazard to get on either of the routes. The finger is probably the safer of the two. The crevasses above the Wapowety Cleaver have opened up and require you to traverse way out to the right. The attached photo is of the Thumb and Finger at sunrise on August 10, 2011.

August 4th

The Fuhrer Finger has been reportedly "gnarly for skiing" for quite some time, but climbing on the Finger has still been great. The hour glass feature toward the entrance to the "finger" has been getting noticeably smaller each day, but still remains in good enough condition to climb. The upper mountain above the "finger" has become more circuitous, but climbers have found that staying close to Wapowety Cleaver and just bumping out to skirt crevasses has lead them on a fairly direct path toward the summit.

July 23rd -

Here's a great trip report from Tacoma Mountain Rescue:
We set out via the Skyline Trail and down to the Nisqually Glacier crossing, then over to the Fan, encountering lots of folks above Paradise in sunny, warm conditions. Foot penetration was generally boot-top deep when stepping outside of the established track. The Nisqually crossing was straightforward. The view of the recent rock and ice fall up glacier was impressive! We were pleased that the existing boot track had not softened too badly, considering the strong heat of the day.We made our first camp on the western edge of the Wilson and settled in for the night. Tuesday turned out to be another sunny, clear day with lots of lowland cloudiness and occasional horsetails/lenticular formations near the summit. We encountered several parties, moving up or down from Camp Hazard.
We packed up that morning and moved to our high camp on the very western edge of the Wilson Glacier at about 9200 ft. The rest of Tuesday was spent relaxing in the warm weather and scouting the approach. We had a nice stream flowing through the rocks near our campsite. From here we had a great view of the Fuhrer Finger chute and a good look at most of the approach. Unfortunately, the traverse across the Wilson glacier looked quite broken from below our campsite; a common starting point from information collected earlier. We chose to start our route higher on the Wilson Glacier to make a more direct and lateral traverse to the Finger.
After watching the weather signs and listening to the weather reports, we decided to try for the summit the next morning. We ate and drank steadily, monitored the weather (and the radio), and settled in for a rest.
We awoke at midnight to calm winds, a partial moon, and a clear view of the mountain. A perfect morning for climbing! We started climbing Wednesday morning at 1:30 a.m., moving up the hill from our camp to the point we thought would be best suited for a drop onto the Wilson Glacier (about 9600 ft.). In the dark, the best we could see involved a downclimb of steep snow and a traverse over an old slide debris path. Following three careful, belayed descent pitches, we were able to walk across a narrow snowbridge and gain the traverse. Just this portion of the climb ate up a fair amount of time but we were determined to ‘do this right’ as the runout from a fall would have ended in one of several huge crevasses lurking below. We did take a moment to consider bailing on this route and heading over to the Kautz route prior to starting the descent but concluded that if the line would not go, we could climb back out and revise the game plan. We moved quickly through the old debris field, taking the occasional glance uphill at the monsters that created it (the Kautz Icefall and the Wilson Headwall).
Once we reached the base of the chute, we paused for a break in order to get ready for the big up. The weather was spectacular with no wind. The climbing from that point was excellent! Lots of suncups and firm snow in the chute made for ideal crampon conditions. The slope angle stayed consistent at 50-60 degrees. We moved steadily without setting any protection for about 1500 ft. before stopping at some running water on climber’s right near 11K. As we approached 12K, we could begin to see why we had been advised NOT to move climber’s right onto the upper Nisqually. Things were breaking up badly with many huge and open crevasses. The best looking line continued straight up, with the rock ridge on our left and the broken Nisqually to our right. By this time we were in direct sunlight and things were heating up fast. The snow was beginning to deteriorate, but climbing was still good and the slope angle had moderated a bit. We remained roped together as we started moving into more crevassed terrain. What had been a fairly straight line up was now turning into a series of switchbacks and more and more route finding through open and hidden crevasses. It's important to communicate to other would-be climbers of this route that it would be very difficult to bail off the route from this point on and up to around 12600'.
Our decision at that point was NOT to descend this route because we believed that a down climb in what was now rotten, steep snow would be difficult if not downright dangerous. We had talked earlier about the possibility of jumping on to the Kautz route for the descent and it seemed clear now that this was our best option. At about 13,200 ft. we topped out and paused to look across the snowfield to the Kautz route bootpath. It was late in the day, we were smoked, there were no other climbers in sight, and we were low on food and out of water. Although we had a stove and considered making some water and turning for the summit, we chose instead to head down with a feeling of great success despite not tagging the top. We traversed over to the Kautz track and made our way downhill. The path was very straight with just a few crevasses showing and the views were incredible!
Downclimbing the steep Kautz chute required no protection/belays but was a bit challenging in the very soft snow conditions and because of our fatigue levels. We traversed quickly under the icefall and over to the hand line to gain the ridge above Camp Hazard. Once over that ridge the winds became very strong but the skies remained clear above with lots of lowland cloudiness. We descended to camp and put a close to a very long but successful day.

June 2

The Fuhrer Finger is still in great shape for both climbing and skiing and should remain so for quite some time. Both the Wilson Glacier approach and the standard Wapowety Cleaver approach have seen traffic this past weekend and multiple parties have been making attempts on both the Finger and the Kautz. Consider taking your time and establishing a basecamp around 10000 ft in order to climb and ski a 'twofer.' Access from basecamp at this elevation includes the Kautz, the Finger, the Wilson Headwall and Success Cleaver. With so much late season snow the routes are in great early May-like conditions. Come on up and schralp some of the best skiing and climbing in the Northwest!!!

May 13th

The FF has been the line of choice for years, as an absolutley classic ski descent of an iconic peak offering up to 10 - 12,000 vertical feet of skiing. This year is no different with multiple parties having successful and enjoyable climbs and ski descents this spring. While snow conditions give the appearance of a heavy late spring snowpack, be aware that conditions are variable throughout with thin snowbridges over hidden crevasses, sastrugi and rockfall hazard through the lower half of the route. Do not think that being on skis is a substitute for proper glacial travel protocols with a rope, anchors, and the knowledge of how to use them. Please entertain roping up for the bottom and top glacier portions as well as wearing a hardhat throughout the route.

The skiing has generally been good with challenging, variable conditions. Watch the weather, plan and train appropriately, and come on up to GET SOME SOON!!!