Fuhrer Finger 2012

July 18

No recent reports from the Finger lately, but it still looks to be very climbable. Expect increased rockfall later in the day as the route warms up. Also expect the route to change rapidly as it gets more sun than almost any other place on the mountain.
June 14

It looked good today from the Wilson glacier as we came of of the Kautz.  See the Kautz post for conditions above the Finger.

May 22

Here is a conditions update from three climbers from Utah who were up last week. Thanks for the beta and photos guys.

Three of us from Salt Lake City, Utah started out from Paradise on Thursday the 17th. We made good time skinning up the snow field and dropped down to the Wilson glacier. We then made our way through the open crevasses up to our base camp. (Usually found around 9,400' on the Wilson Glacier/Turtle Snowfield border - MRCR)

We moved efficiently past the huge bergschrund at the base of the finger and up to where the glacier ended and snow field started. We un-roped for the finger proper...tried to follow a boot track, but the heat from earlier in the week had all but erased the existing track. In the hard snow we found it easier to make zig zags across the finger as we climbed.

We decided to climb next to the rocky ridge on climbers left as opposed to picking our way through the upper Nisqually. This made for some fun steep snow and partial rock climbing. After we topped out on the ridge we traversed back towards the Nisqually past a few HUGE openings and on up to the summit. 

We were wanting to ski from the actual summit, but the high winds and cold temps made the snow/ice completely un-skiable off the top. We walked down to about 13,500 where we were out of the stronger winds and  decided to try and ski from there down. The cold temps made the skiing difficult so we put our crampons back on walked down the upper Nisqually until it tied back into the rocky spine above the finger. Since the snow was so hard we were forced to down climb the steep slope near the spine directly above a large bergschrund. It was very slow going as we had to pound in our ax take three or four steps, remove the ax and pound it in again. We probably could have rappelled from the rock spine as an alternative to the down climbing. There is a sling around a horn where it appears others have done this. 

Once past this steep section, travel was fairly easy down to the finger. One of our team tried to ski down a little bit and decided to switch back to crampons for the finger as the snow was still too hard and skiing was very difficult. Near the bottom of the finger the snow finally softened enough to ski out the last 1,000 ft to our camp.

We woke up Saturday and the temps were much better for skiing and we were able to ski great corn all the way out to the parking lot. I am sure the finger and much of the upper mountain would have been much better skiing Saturday.

While the weather was a little too cold for skiing the day we hit it we still had a blast. If you can pick a slightly warmer day the skiing would be great top to bottom. Great route on a great mountain!

May 9

The Fuhrer Finger, Fuhrer Thumb and Wilson Headwall all appear to be in great shape. Access for these routes is best done by crossing the Nisqually around 7,200' and then ascending the Wilson to 9,400' where there is great camping. As with all spring climbs early is best, especially when temps are warm. 

Fuhrer Finger

Lower Nisqually and Wilson Glaciers

May 2
Wilson Headwall, Fuhrer Thumb, Fuhrer Finger

Gibraltar Ledges/Chute 2012

July 18

It's been a while since anyone has climbed through the ledges. Conditions would be expected to be rocky with some broken icy glacier showing at the top of Gibralter Chute.

June 18
A patrol up the ledges found good conditions lower on the route, but late-season crevasses and looming seracs on top Gib Rock.  See pic to the right.  A possible exit out climbers left above Gib Chute would be an option, but traveling fast and cool temps would be recommended.

There was still quite a bit of snow along the back side of Gib Rock.  This season the crux appears to be getting off the ledges onto the upper mountain and route finding up to the crater rim.  Awesome views of collapsing seracs and big powder sprays onto the upper Nisqually make this route a must see. 

June 14

New snow up high has perpetuated the good conditions on the ledges.  As long as snow/rime covers a lot of the loose rock on the ledges, this can be one of the most enjoyable, direct, and surprisingly remote climbs on the mountain - just outside of Camp Muir!

May 16

Gibraltar Ledges
Interesting and beautiful climbing along Gib ledges. Climbing up the Cowlitz from Muir to the the ledges is mostly straightforward, with one or two minor crevasse crossings about halfway to the base of Gibraltar rock. It is possible to stay on snow all the way through to the small notch between the beehive ridge and Gib Rock.

The ledges themselves are an airy traverse of mixed snow and rock, that seem to be melting out quickly. Beware of rockfall along the ledges and consider getting an early start to avoid making this traverse in the heat of the day.

Gib Chute
The Gibraltar chute appears to still be in good shape for climbing, though rockfall is starting to build up in it so if you want to ski it, bring your rock skis! 

Above the chute the Nisqually Icecliff is starting to break up into a number of amazing fissures and seracs that come almost all the way to the rock. Either take your chances navigating the crevasse field or hug the rock on the right, where a few snow bridges (be careful, and evaluate before crossing!) allow relatively straightforward access to Camp Comfort. 

Gibraltar Ledges
Above Camp Comfort standard glacier travel with a few minor routefinding/crossing problems take you to the Columbia Crest. Up until this week this was the finish for the guided routes up the Ingraham Direct, but the guide organizations have since moved their route to the other side of the Ingraham so be aware that this upper part of the route (past Camp Comfort) is no longer wanded.

May 9

Gib ledges is a total go at this time. The ledges themselves are mixed snow and rock, with standard glacier terrain above and below. Above Gibraltar and Camp Comfort the glacier has some big crevasses showing, but those can be bypassed by traversing climbers left further onto the Nisqually, or by traversing climbers right toward the standard DC route.

The Gibraltar chute appears to be in great shape for climbing and skiing also, just be sure to get an early start as this route is prone to rockfall and avalanches when the temps get warm.

May 2

June 1

Here's a link to last year's posts.

Tatoosh 2012

Ski conditions in the Tatoosh are excellent right now. The freeze thaw cycles we have been experiencing have made the spring skiing come into great shape over the past week. 

Access into the Tatoosh is still accomplished by parking at Narada Falls, then climbing the snow covered embankment to the Stevens Canyon Road (still closed, but bare to Reflection and Snow lakes). Walk along the road (bring your kicks) until you get to where you want to be. Ski.

Remember there are no official avy forecasts for this area anymore. Use your own judgement for what and when you ski.

Ingraham Direct 2012

July 18

Parties have stopped using the Ingraham as the standard route from Camp Muir. Large crevasses span the entire width of the glacier making route-finding a challenge.

June 6

The Ingraham is still very climbable, but it seems like the majority of climbers have turned their attention to the DC route. The route up the Ingraham follows the same basic line that is described in previous updates, but expect some larger crevasse openings between the 11,500' and 12,300' elevations. Also be prepared to do some real routefinding since the new snow has covered the old bootpack.

June 1

Climbers have still been setting their sights on the ID as the primary route to the summit from Camp Muir (as opposed to the DC).  New snow, high winds, and low visibility have made for challenging conditions over the past couple of days.  The weather forecast looks uncertain for the next couple of days - perfect enough to get to high camps, set the alarm early, and get ready to rally when the weather window comes.

May 27

The ID made a comeback this weekend with 5 parties using the route to reach the summit. Snow accumulation from earlier in the week ranged from little to upwards of 2 ft, which may have eased a few of the crevasse crossing on the Ingraham Headwall. The new snow is consolidating quickly and the avalanche danger is generally decreasing. The route is still relatively direct and "filled in", and remains a viable alternative to the DC. There was a small amount of icefall acitivity at about 12,000ft, but the exposure is brief, and can be managed reasonably well by small groups that travel efficiently.

Overall the condition of the ID is impressive. Come and get some before it's too late.

May 24

The ID is starting to fall out of favor, it surely still "goes" but with open and broken sections up high. The DC is more straight forward. With the recent snow the route may look better than it really is, however if it is on your tick list there is no reason not to give it a go.

May 7th

With sunny weather and warm temperatures people have been flocking to the mountain. Many people are choosing to still ski to Camp Muir, and even carry their skis to the summit for some high altitude turns. Right now the Ingraham Direct is in great shape, and seems to be the route of choice out of Camp Muir, with very few open crevasses below 12,600 feet. The sun has been warming the snow on the route considerably the past few days, so be sure to head out early, and use your best judgement on avalanche conditions. Out of Camp Muir the route traverses across the Cowlitz, and up Cathedral Gap, which is still completely snow covered, making for speedy ascent times. Once up to Cathedral Gap use caution as you traverse across the steeper slopes leading to Ingraham Flats. 

Ingraham Flats is in great shape, and may be a nice option to escape the early season crowds at Muir. From the flats the route heads straight up the center of the Ingraham, avoiding the icefalls on either edge of the glacier. The route ascends straight up a steep slope before the angle eases and zig zags its way up to approximately 12,500 feet. Currently the popular choice is to go climbers left from here and head towards Camp Comfort, and the top of Gibralter Rock. From this point the snow conditions are a bit firmer, with a few large crevasses open, but by trending to the climbers left onto the Nisqually at approximately 13,000 feet these can be avoided before turning back to the north and heading straight for the crater.

Spring has finally arrived, and with the past few days the mountain has received lots of sunshine and high freezing levels, making for excellent climbing! Make sure to bring your sunglasses, sun block, and avy gear, and come on up to grab a piece of the beautiful spring weather and climbing conditions!

Tahoma Glacier 2012

July 18

No recent reports from the Tahoma. We would expect the route to still be a good objective for those who want a more remote but non-technical route.

May 9

Ptarmigan Ridge 2012

June 9

There have been two recorded attempts to date this year on Ptarmigan and both parties have backed off due to weather and/or avalanche conditions.  The route, however, appears to be in great shape.  The last party to make an attempt, completed the approach and bivied at the base of the route.  Overnight snow, high winds and signs of increasing avalanche danger turned these Coloradans back from their objectives.  The two were not overly-excited about retracing their approach as the final section of the approach is not for the feint of heart.

May 9

Mowich Face 2012

August 30th

The Mowich Face still appears to be a go for this late in the season. The route typically can be climbed any tiime of the season. This time of the year provides some sustained, steep,  firm snow and even ice in places (Sounds fun!). However, the biggest crux of the routes on the Mowich Face this time of year can be rock fall and getting across the bergschrunds. But some recent aerial photos are showing the upper portions of the route to be in good shape!

July 18

The Mowich face usually stays climbable throughout the year, just expect conditions to become icier, (potentially more fun) as the summer goes on and the winters snow melts away.

May 9