Emmons-Winthrop Glacier 2012

August 30th

It is late August and the climbing numbers are dwindling, but the route out of Camp Schurman is still a go! The route is still following the Winthrop out of camp, and switch backing up a small steeper pitch to gain access to the still smooth Winthrop rib. Now more than any time during the season it is important for climbers to think outside the boot track, and be ready to place pickets and possibly blaze your own trail. There are several crevasses between camp and 11,500 feet that are quite suspect, and have over hung bridges, all of these are still easily end-runable, or with proper picket placement, they are still able to be crossed, but check the snow bridges yourself and make a proper determination for your team.

Once above 11,500 the route is still very straight forward and direct. However, last week, the bergschrund crossing at approximately 14,000 feet finally collapsed, leaving an uncrossable hole in the boot track. Thankfully the Liberty Saddle is still a great option, with only 1 step over crevasse on the far   west end. From here, hang a left and trot up the final mellow slopes to Columbia Crest.

Climber on route at approx. 13,000 feet

The Inter Glacier is showing its late season ice on top of the first steep pitch, as well as a few cracks, so consider crampons and a rope for this portion of the journey. The traverse from Camp Curtis is still straight forward and mellow. Come up for some late summer fun, and enjoy the berries and wild flowers along the Glacier Basin trail.

August 17th

The Winthrop route is still a great, safe option over the past week. The route has seen some minor changes as the warm summer temps have caused melting. Currently a large crevasse plug around 11,000 feet has given way, but climbers have still been able to protect this spot with pickets and climb down and through the crevasse. The return trip necessitates either a lower or a short rappel to cross, but it is still totally a go. From this point on, the route is straight forward, and still direct. The bergschrund is still a go, with no need to travel into the Liberty saddle yet. Come get a piece of the action while it lasts and the warm sun is still shining.

The Inter Glacier is cracking up in a few places, and some bare ice is starting to show, as indicated in the August 10th post, please bring your rope and crampons to get to Schurman. The traverse out onto the Emmons from Camp Curtis is still working with no issues for climbers.

Come on up to Camp Schurman and bring your sunscreen, a few pickets for the fun and interesting Winthrop route and get your climb on during the dog days of summer!

August 10

The Winthrope route is still working with several small tweaks over the last week as the sunny weather effects the upper mountain. Come with at least two pickets if not more and expect a fun safe and very real mountain climb on the Emmons/Winthrop route. We still have Foxes and Ravens. Inter/Glacier is starting to open up so be prepared to rope up and use crampons to make it up Camp Schurman. Descent onto the Emmons from the Inter is dirty but not hard yet.

Night shot of the Winthrope route heading strait out of Camp Schurman.

July 26

A huge reroute has happened as the traverse across from the top of the "ccorridor" onto the Winthrop simply got to sketchy. The super interesting and rather direct new line heads out to the Winthrop "rib" just above Camp Schurman and before Emmons flats tying into the old route just past the old traverse from the top of the "corridor". The rest of the route is just as stated below with a great direct finish up to the summit.

July 21st

Sunset from Camp Schurman

Come on out to the mellow side of the mountain and enjoy spectacular sunrises and sunsets, and get a piece of the beautiful Emmons Glacier. Right now the route up the classic Emmons-Winthrop is in great shape, drawing large crowds on the weekends, but relatively few climbers if you can make a mid-week escape.

The route itself is currently in great shape, heading up the "Corridor", then taking a hard climbers right and weaving through a beautiful traverse full of blue seracs, and ice walls before exiting out onto the Winthrop Glacier at roughly 11,800 feet. While this traverse is spectacular for scenery, parties shouldn't linger in this area for too long, as some of the seracs and ice walls are prone to producing ice fall in the mid-day sun. Once out of the traverse, the route switchbacks straight up the smooth Winthrop shoulder for 2,000 vertical feet with only a handful of crevasses to step over, before slowly trending climbers left and across the bergschrund, which currently, is still passable by going directly up and towards Columbia Crest. Once across the 'Schrund, the angle of the slope eases, and follows the gentle slopes to the crater rim.

Emmons Traverse from looking East.
The Inter-Glacier is still in fine shape for skiing, and slogging up and down. There are only a couple of crevasses beginning to show, one near the top of the second "pressure ridge", and one just below the rocky outcrop that leads down hill from Camp Curtis. Both are visible, and easily avoidable, but use discretion in the coming days as these will surely widen and melt out more. When camping at Glacier Basin and Camp Schurman, please use the provided "fox barrels" for food storage. Our furry friends have been making the rounds up as high as the Emmons Flats, but have not been a problem when you keep a tidy camp, and properly store food while away from your tent. Come enjoy the dog days of summer on the biggest, most beautiful glacier in the lower 48 states, and don't forget your shades, and some sunscreen!

July 12

Upper Emmons/Winthrop from tail of the Chinook.
Summer showed her face this week and brought large numbers of climbers out to celebrate the Emmons/Winthrop route. Super hot conditions have changed the route considerably in the last week and made for exciting new route changes. Expect more of the same if the weather stays good.

We have added an extra "fox box" (really a clean 5 gallon trash can) for food storage that sits on the Winthrop side of the hut.

Route changes this week have you traveling under some seracs just climbers' right at the top of the "corridor". If you are camping in Glacier Basin, keep your food in the provided giant bear cans that will be in Glacier basin all season. The Inter Glacier is starting to show some cracks but the crossing down to the Emmons from Camp Curtis is still rather straight forward. This week we cleaned record numbers of wands from the route left by large climbing clubs. Please use wands as you want but bring them all down so that the next climbers can have a cleaner/funner time.

Climbing Ranger Dawa Yangzum Sherpa after cleaning the route of wands

July 4

Typical day in June on Emmons.
The trail to Glacier basin is 90% snow free and we are starting to use the summer route up to the base of the Inter-Glacier. Skiing is still great on the Inter-Glacier and Mount Ruth, but changing rapidly.

A cold and snowy June have left us with a lots of snow still on the route making for relatively few hard crossings. There is still a serac at the top of the "corridor" that deserves mention as well as real fall potential at the top of the route.

Bears in Glacier basin, use provided bear storage. Foxes at Camp Schurman, use provided storage. Though this has been a very hard few weeks for the Camp Schurman climbing rangers we would like to share how happy we are for you to come and visit our  route. Berg heil.
Upper Emmons looking filled in with snow.

June 15

Taken June 18
The approach to Glacier basin camp ground is 50% snow free at the moment and melting fast. Be aware that we have been having issues with habituated bears in Glacier Basin and are asking people to be extra vigilant with there food, and please do not cash your shoes or other items as the salt attracts them as well. If you plan on camping at Glacier Basin please use the provided food storage barrels.

The descent onto the Emmons glacier from Camp Curtice on the Inter-Glacier is still filled in and rather easy. Up at Camp Schurman we have been experiencing foxes getting into peoples tents and are working on providing a place for climbers to store there food while up on the mountain. There is still a lot of surface snow on the upper mountain and the Emmons Winthrop route is in great early season condition with only a few interesting crossings. One thing to watch for is a small serrac (ice cliff) at the top of the corridor that threatens the route for a few minutes of climbing. Skiing has been day to day as the feezing level changes.

June 8

The Emmons route is in fantastic shape right now! The past week has brought high winds and fresh snow to the upper mountain creating excellent ski conditions. However, with this fresh snow and wind events, climbers should bring their shovels, beacons and probes, as well as be ready to assess the snow conditions before venturing out onto the upper mountain. Climbers can drive to the White River campground to access the Glacier Basin trail. The trail itself is mostly snow covered, but very patchy and easy to follow through the forest. Those climbers bringing skis will need to carry them for about 2 miles before the snow is continuous enough to leave them on until Camp Schurman.

Currently the route is very straight forward, and direct. There are very few crevasses open between Camp Schurman and the top of the corridor. However, there are a few holes, and suspicious bridges beginning to show. Above the corridor one option trends slightly climbers left and up as it works through a small crevasse system, from here the route traverses back out right, and continues nearly straight up to the crater rim. Come out and bring your snow sliding device of choice for some excellent winter like turns in June!

May 9

The Emmons route looks to be in great shape, and seems to be the place where a lot of our winters snow ended up. The road to White River campground is scheduled to open May 25th at this time, but stay tuned to our Access and Roads page for the latest updates and information on how to best access the Emmons and Camp Schurman until that time.