Emmons Winthrop 2015

October 15th, 2015

The Emmons/Winthrop route hasn't been in typical "good" conditions for a couple months.  A huge winter storm has yet to roll through and drop the amount of snow needed to fill in the crevasses (some of the largest on the mountain) and reinforce weakened bridges and cornices.  Rangers are no longer staffing Camp Schurman and the White River Ranger Station is closed for the season.  

 

Climbers and skiers looking to head up this route over the winter should be proficient in their glacial travel skills and self-reliant in their contingency and rescue plans.  Keep an eye on the weather forecast (and the past weather trends).  Climber registration is still mandatory and can be completed at the White River Ranger Station at a self-registration kiosk.  It will be stocked with permits and fee envelopes throughout the winter.

 

Thanks to all the climbers and special day-use visitors who came up and made the 2015 season at Camp Schurman memorable.  We look forward to seeing you next year!

 

August 28th, 2015

Climbing conditions on the Emmons/Winthrop are making things difficult for many parties.  Current conditions consist of a mixture of exposed glacial ice and sastrugi and with de-compensating plugs and thinning snow bridges over crevasses.  Expect a substantial amount of route finding and technical traversing with running pro.  Climbing parties have been turning around mid-climb due to navigation difficulties and large impassable crevasses.

If low pressure produces snow, be aware that route finding will be much harder and travel in glaciated terrain will be much more dangerous due to masked and thin crevasse bridges and plugs.

As we move into the end of the climbing season, we are seeing a dramatic decrease in climbing numbers.  The climbing rangers are beginning to close up for the season at high camps and will not be staffing Camp Schurman regularly.  Keep this in mind while planning your trip, and keep in mind that if something happens and medical or rescue assistance is required, response time will be prolonged.

Safe climbing!

August 10th, 2015

Conditions on the Emmons, and the route depicted in the last post, remain largely unchanged. Travel carefully out of Camp Schurman and up toward the top of the Corridor staying to the right of the Corridor proper. Snow bridges are thinning in this area and where the boot pack goes may not be the best place to cross. Above the Corridor a small serac area needs to be traversed before heading out to the upper mountain. The Emmons Winthrop schrund can be crossed still on in the middle of the Winthrop saddle. Several other options may also exist. As the summer continues the Emmons route will likely still be climbable but expect to do some of your own route finding. Enjoy.

August 7th, 2015

Mount Rainier National Park, Emmons Winthrop GPS Track 8/6/2015
The Emmons is still climbing well. The GPS track above shows the most current route to date. There are still several unexplored options that will get you to the top. Get any early start to allow for the need to do some possible route finding.  The late summer weather continues to lend a hand in keeping this route more of a true mountaineering experience. Consider your equipment needs before setting out. The glacial skeleton is on or near the surface. Having a hammer and a few ice screws could come in handy in the event of a crevasse fall or need for a protected belay. The Emmons Flatts area is fairly broken up, the limited camping area is now over closer to the corridor.
Be safe, climb smart, have fun!

August 4th, 2015

The Emmons is still climbing well and parties are summiting everyday. The route up the corridor has dropped down to the larger snow meadow below. The terrain is less broken and is climbing more direct. There is a large ramp at the end of this meadow that puts you back on top of the corridor.


August 2nd, 2015


Descending the ridge onto the Emmons Glacier just before reaching Camp Schurman there is an emerging moat. This moat has been giving climbing parties problems with where to access the glacier. There are many points along this transition from rock to snow where reasonable access can be found. Remember to look around for alternate options as you approach. This zone is changing often. 


July 6th, 2015


A google earth screen shot of the track log we took coming down from the summit.

It's easy to get onto the Corridor, but it is turning into a bit of a Labyrinth, not unnegotiable, but you have to pay attention.  Last year's snow surface is peaking through, too.  At about 11,200, there is a traverse through a large crevasse - a bit airy and exposed if you look up.  Above there, there are of course, many crevasse crossings, which are changing by the week, but for the most part the route looks good.  


To download this tracklog so you can view in Google Earth, click here.  Please realize we are not sharing this as where we want you to go.  It is merely a representation of where the route went on July 5, 2015.  It probably changed the next day.  The actual route is not as squigley as it appears.  That is the result of using an iPhone for a GPS.


July 2nd, 2015


Hot temperatures, moderate winds, and clear skies were the story of the past weekend on the Emmons Glacier Route. Despite the warm weather the surface of the snow cooled overnight providing good conditions for those getting an alpine start. Crevasse crossings should be eyed with suspicion as the heat is likely to have weakened many of the snow bridges on the route. Below are photos of the route taken on June 30th.




June 24th 2015


Lots of climbers up on the Emmons during the past week with most parties making successful climbs. The route has changed little from the previous posts. A small steep crevasse section exists just above the Corridor at 11,600ft and is a good place to use running protection. The bergschrund is cross-able in several locations with most parties following  "Option 1", from the previous post. 

The weather is forecasted to be warm this weekend and the Emmons Route would be a great place to spend it.




June 14th 2015








The route is holding up well, remaining direct up the Emmons Glacier with minimal traversing. The Winthrop looks to be in fair condition as an alternate to the main Emmons route.


There are several options for getting around the bergschrund. Option 1: Go straight up where most of the traffic has been going (red arrow), this puts you on a short but steep section directly above the open/thinly bridged schrund.
Option 2: cross  to climbers right of the main boot track and traverse up and around to the crater rim (orange line). The bridge here probably has a few weeks to live. This option avoids some of the steepness and high consequence terrain of the main track/option 1.

At Camp Schurman the bathroom has been fitted with a new wall and door (metal!). Please do not hang on the door handle, and make sure the door is closed securely behind you (no lock yet).
The Winthrop appears to also be in good condition.

June 4th 2015

Updating from our most recent patrol on 5/31/2015.  
The Inter Glacier: Snow line is above Glacier Basin Campground around 6200ft. Bring your tennis shoes for the approach to the snow-line, it will double as a good camp shoe up at Schurman.  The Inter Glacier is starting to show signs that it is actually a glacier. A few cracks are starting to open up, I counted 3 visible from the surface.
Camp Schurman:  Spring flights have not happened yet and half the bathroom wall is still missing, otherwise operations are normal and the view from the bathroom is even better than before. To add some privacy the rangers have put up a tarp which hopefully will survive the next wind storm, whenever that may be.
The route: It still goes! How long will it last?  The top of the Corridor is starting to feel a little hollow and traversing through what I am calling 'the squeeze' is still a go and requires navigating around some big crevasses. After that the climbing is straight forward and direct.
The Upper Bergschrund: The route is still direct to the crater rim and does not wrap into the liberty saddle.  Although I use the word 'route' loosely because there are only a few boot tracks up there and folks coming off Liberty Ridge would likely cross over from  and into the saddle.  Keep your eye on the upper Burgschrund and realize that traversing toward liberty saddle (climbers right) is a possibility when the schrund starts to open later in the month/season.
Google Image:  Due to a SAR, the rangers climbed up the Emmons and down the DC, to clarify why the black line is like that.  
The weather looks amazing over the weekend! Maybe too warm with freezing levels around the summit.  Come on up and have a good climb!



May 28th 2015

Emmons and Winthrop Glacier on May 28th, Mount Rainier National Park
This view is from the top of the Prow. The route up the corridor has a well traveled boot pack as seen in the photo. Crevasses still linger along this path that are taking climber by surprise during the afternoon decent.  The route currently leads over to the saddle above the Winthrop. Light Winds above 12,000' are covering old boot packs with snow making for new route finding options.  On sunny days from 12,000 down to Camp Schurman the snow is getting wet and punchy. Allow for a early start and take advantage of clear cold nights for better snow conditions down low on the route.



May 25th 2015

Happy Memorial Day! No climbs on the Emmons today despite the grand weather over this holiday weekend. The clear cold night left firm snow conditions for most of the morning. We had a light breeze out of the NE, sunny skies, and an empty camp for most of the day.  With the low snow year and warm temperatures predicted for early this summer the route might not be "in" as late in the summer as usual.  There seems to be quite a few large cracks already opening up.  

May 24th 2015

Today the weather and climbing has been great all day. Three independent parties climbed out of Schurman early this morning with clear skies and no wind. One party made it to approx. 12,700 before turning around due to a persistent grapple layer 25cm below a surface slab. For more detailed info on this layer see below under the May 20th post. The clear sky over night produced a breakable crust with variable boot penetration of 12"-14" making for challenging uphill travel. Increasing temps over the day resulted in isolated point releases on steeper slopes starting around 10:00 AM. Even with the low snowpack this year the route is in good condition with a few crevasses starting to open. The upper corridor is one of these places where crevasses are opening, but is still easily navigated.

May 23th 2015

Weather today has been improving over yesterday. New snow fell overnight with reports of 6" up high, and only a dusting at high camps. 


May 20th 2015

The high camps are open and rangers are back on the mountain, here is the latest info. On May 16th 2 Rangers attempted a climb on the Emmons route and got turned around by an unusual snowpack layer at 11,500, details on that below.  How is the route doing? How are the crevasses?  These are the frequently asked questions right now especially with the upcoming memorial day and start of the ‘climbing season’.  

The bottom line: Lower than average snowfall amounts are already revealing crevasses on the corridor and up to 11’500 on the Emmons route. How to deal with this potential problem?  Get your climb on early.
 Around May 12th, Rainier received approx. 60cm’s of new snow. Unlike most storms, the snow fell with little wind at times and during the storm a significant amount of Graupel fell.  Graupel looks like ball bearings and slides around like them as well. Then about 30-40cm’s of snow fell on top of that Graupel layer creating a cohesive slab that was/is sitting on top of the weak graupel layer. Strong snow over weak snow = unstable snow.  What was also interesting is that the Graupel layer has been located on both the DC and Emmons.
This layer prevented us from continuing above 11,500. The way snow changes so fast this is probably  old news.
Do your own investigation and confirm the presence or absence of this layer.
Also of note is the character of the crevasses and
ice flow that squeeze the route on the Emmons side, see below photo. A good early season
variation is the Winthrop shoulder instead of the
Emmons.  The 2 routes meet together above
12,000ft.

I hope everyone has a nice memorial day weekend. If you are coming up for the weekend a few notes:
White River Campground is currently closed.
The White River Ranger station opens on friday starting at 7.30.
Snowline is at around 5900 ft (Glacier Basin).
The cracks on the Inter glacier are not visible yet
but remember it is a glacier.
The Emmons Winthrop is a wilderness route, please remove any wands you place and have your route finding and glacier travel skills dialed in.
Happy climbing!

Conditions Report From March 7-8

The Glacier Basin Trail is mostly melted out and is in traditional "Summer" condition. Continuous snow starts ~3/4mi from Glacier Basin.







Skinning up the riverbed just before the Glacier Basin Campground


Continuing up the ridge of Mount Ruth before traversing over to Camp Curtis

The prow had good snow coverage.
When we arrived in at Schurman it became apparent that some things have changed. Be advised that the emergency radio located on the outside of the ranger hut may not function due to damage to the solar array and electronic systems. The carrying and proper use of emergency equipment such as spot beacons, personal locator beacons (PLBs), and/or satellite phones is encouraged, cell reception is extremely limited and variable. Additionally, half of the bathroom is missing and what is left is full of snow and ice. USE blue bags and deposit in the barrel located in the bathroom as pictured below. Keep tuned for updates as repairs later this season.

Current state of the loo. Fresh scented with a scenic view.
Variable crustage on the Inter Glacier
Glacier Basin
Emmons/Winthrop

Russell Cliffs