Mowich Headwall 2014

July 6

A ranger patrol climbed the central route on Mowich Face recently and had this to say...

The west side routes of  Mt.Rainier are still in good shape. If the weather stays warm and the freezing levels stay high these routes will continue to melt out and become more difficult. The access for the Mowich face routes start at Mowich lake. The road up too the lake is expected to open on the 11th of this month. The trail leading out of Mowich to Spray Park is snow free till just after Spray Falls. Past this point the trail turns to snow and there is a fairly good boot track up to 6400'. From this point a climbers trail marked by small rock cairns leads Southeast towards Ptarmigan ridge.

On a clear day Observation and Echo rocks are in view and the climbers trail leads towards the saddle between the two. This trail turns to snow after approx. 1/2 mile around 6800'. There is good camping and snow melt water around 7600'  between Observation and Echo rocks. The descent (at approx.8300') off of Ptarmigan ridge down to the North Mowich Glacier is still holding some snow, but is quickly melting exposing the unstable slope below. Take extreme care when descending this 1000' ridge. There are many large unstable boulders and the scree will slide underfoot very easily. Travel across this slope is recommended in the early morning while conditions are colder and safer. Travel across the North Mowich Glacier is still relatively unbroken. The view from atop Ptarmigan Ridge "before descending" provides the best insight for a travel plan across the glacier. From approx. 7400' on the glacier take a high traverse to the base of the Central Mowich Face. There is a good high camp at 9600' near a small nunatack.

There is a large burgshrund at approximately 10,300' along the base of the face.  Climbers will need to cross a snow covered moat or rock outcrops along the left side of the 'shrund to gain the face. Once on the face the climbing is very consistent steep snow. Changing temperatures will vary the climbing difficulty greatly. Cold nighttime and early morning hours are by far the best to climb. Hot daytime temps and solar radiation will make this route more dangerous. Exiting the face out to the right there is a wind lip where the slope steepens and ice is present. The higher you exit the face (nearest the rock band) the shorter and smaller the lip becomes.

After gaining the top of the face, climb more steep snow to a small apex at 13,400'.  From here traverse left along a wind roll until you reach a broad flat bench. At this point you an make your final climb to Liberty cap.
Weather and snow conditions can very greatly throughout the day and can turn what may seem of minimal concern in the morning into a major objective hazard later in the day. The Emmons is the standard descent  for this route see Emmons post for more details. Climbers should be aware the route from Liberty Cap to the Emmons is not obvious right now, plan accordingly.

Climb prepared for a variety of snow conditions. Read and understand your forecasts. Plan food supply for an extra day out. Remember that it's about the journey not the destination, have fun and be safe!

June 5

Everything over here looks great right now. Long approach but well worth it.