|Lower Inter Glacier|
Please pay attention to where you are going as there are many social trails still present. Vegetation is fragile in the alpine and take a long time to recover if trampled.
Make sure and bring rain gear and insulated layers, the seasons are beginning to transition to fall up high and weather can change quickly.
|Upper Inter Glacier|
The Upper Inter Glacier is showing many patches of ice and open crevasses. If your plans take you up on the glacier be prepared for standard glacier travel with ropes, harnesses, crampons, and ice axe. Remember to look up and not just follow the tracks in front of you as boot packs and conditions are continually changing. Make good decisions and stay safe.
See the previous post for some good information that still applies to the Inter Glacier approach.
Below we have a photo of the Inter, showing some of that exposed glacial ice and crevasses. Also check out the latest post on the Emmons-Winthrop page for more detailed information about the approach and route conditions.
|The Inter Glacier|
Warm weather and a few rain storms over the past few weeks have completely melted out the trail all the way to the toe of the Inter Glacier. Wildflowers are out in abundance and so are the critters. Please stay on the way trail up from Glacier Basin as much as possible and keep a close eye on your food.
Once at the Inter Glacier you will be traveling on exposed glacial ice right away. Mixed snow and ice travel continues up to Camp Curtis so crampons, ice axe and roping up are highly recommended. Large crevasses are open in several locations on the Inter. Wands mark some of the major crossings but are not maintained by the NPS. The boot path currently passes very near or over several of these cracks. Remember you are not forced to follow the tracks of others! If you don't find a crossing safe or to your liking, find a way around.
A final note, the main route to Camp Schurman crosses over Steam Boat Prow on the climber's left just above Camp Curtis. This provides easy access to the Emmons Glacier and Camp Schurman. Several parties recently got a nasty and loose surprise when then climbed to the top of the Prow and faced a steep 3-4 class decent down to camp. Know your route before you head up.
The trail to Glacier Basin camp is almost completely melted out (tennis shoe or sandal conditions). Beware of the river and streams melting out under the snow on your way to the Inter Glacier. Solid snow doesn't start until the base of the Inter Glacier. The crevasses are still just beginning to emerge, keep an eye out for them upon your descent be that via foot, ski, or glissade.
The skiing has been plentiful earlier/later in the day. Take your shoes with you, the caching of shoes, gear etc. is prohibited.
Although it is an unmaintained trail please follow the "trail"from Glacier Basin to the base of the Inter to avoid any further meadow stomping and erosion issues.
Keep an eye on your gear if you are taking a break, the entire Inter Glacier/Glacier Basin area is a hot spot for bear activity and the marmots are out in full force.
There has been a lot of activity on the Inter the past few weeks. It's relatively high elevation (topping out at 9,600') and easterly aspect make it a great place to get those July ski turns. The trail to Glacier Basin is almost completely snow free, with a few patches as you near the campsites in Glacier Basin. There is continuous snow from Glacier Basin on.
While the Inter is one of Mt. Rainier's smaller and less active glaciers, it is still a glacier complete with crevasses. One of those has opened up around 7,600 feet, near a large rock knob in the middle of the glacier. Keep this in mind if you are glissading at a high rate of speed down the Inter. The other spot where crevasses typically open up is above the cut-off to Camp Curtis. There are a couple of them starting around 8,600 feet, and they are hard to see from above. Keep this in mind if you are descending from the very top of Steamboat Prow.
|The upper Interglacier.|
In the photo to the right you can see glissade tracks going directly over a sagging crevasse bridge. This is at about 8,600 feet. You can also see debris from a wet loose avalanche. Remember that avalanches can happen any time of year, and if you are getting lots of penetration (greater than a few inches, or less on steep terrain) into the snow with your boots or skis, you could potentially trigger a wet loose slide.
See the post below for more general information on the Inter, and note the specifics about glacial ice appearing as the season goes on. A trip up the Inter is a special place in Mt. Rainier National Park, and a great training route for your ascent of the upper mountain. Come prepared and start early!
The Inter Glacier is wedged between the Emmons and Winthrop Glaciers, just below Camp Schurman, on the east side of the mountain. Climbers and skiers access Camp Schurman by ascending from White River Camp Ground's Climber Parking Lot, along the White River Trail to Glacier Basin (approx. 3 miles), and then up the Inter Glacier toward the top of Steamboat Prow. Early season conditions can vary widely on the Inter Glacier. In May and June climbers can expect anything from punchy slushy iso-thermal snow to hard icy "coral reef" conditions. Timing can make hours of difference for climbers trying to get up the Inter Glacier. In the heat of the afternoon, climber's can sink up to their knees, but in the middle of the night, crampons and an ice axe can be necessary.
Later in the season, in July and August, as the weather patterns become more stable, conditions on the Inter Glacier also become more stable. Glacial ice patches melt out, snow that's still present above the glacial ice consolidates enough to become fairly easy to cross, and crevasses start to appear. Use caution crossing the icier patches and when crossing crevasses on the glacier. Consider "roping up" and using glacial crossing techniques.
Views from the Inter Glacier can be breathtaking in mid-summer. Flowers begin to bloom, Mount Stuart and the Enchantments can be seen, and Sunrise Meadows can be seen from a birds-eye view. Keep your camera handy!