It's getting to be that time of year where the non standard routes (routes other than the highly traveled DC and Emmons) are seeing substantially less climbing traffic. Upper mountain terrain is becoming very featured and broken which results in substantially difficult terrain navigation and route finding. As we move into the fall months, these routes are becoming much more dangerous from objective hazard such as rock fall, ice fall, unstable snow bridges, decompensating plugs, and long deep crevasses that are difficult to navigate around. It is highly recommended to wait until next climbing season to attempt these routes and allow the winter months to heal the current upper mountain conditions.
June 18th, 2015
Austin Shannon (IMG Guide) was up on the Finger this week and climbed the route quickly with a strong team. Here is his conditions report:
Fuhrer Finger Route Conditions:
From Glacier Vista crossing the lower Nisqually glacier:
Good travel overall. The glacier is quite dry and broken for this time of year. Late season conditions are in effect. The ice fall directly climbers right of chute accessing Wilson bench is quite
active. During our mid morning ascent we experienced a moderate amount of rock
Wilson Bench to Upper Castle:
Good coverage and perfect sun-cup steps. Seems like most of the winter snow has consolidated. Easy steep snow walking to gain the ridge at 7200’. Flowing water can be found in multiple spots at the Upper Castle Camp.
Upper Castle to top of Wapowtey Cleaver:
Good access to base of F.F. from Upper Castle, Wilson glacier was slightly broken but direct travel was not interrupted. Travel up through the F.F. proper was quick and without significant
rock fall. Rock fall is still a real objective hazard. Good sun-cup steps made travel
relatively easy. The moat/bergshrund was slightly broken. Two 50m pitches were
the final piece to complete the exit out the top of F.F. onto Wapowtey Cleaver at 12, 800’.
Wapowtey Cleaver to Summit:
Getting off the Wapowtey Cleaver to upper Nisqually seemed to be more broken than usual and will likely cause route issues soon. The upper Nisqually glacier was smooth travel to the North East where we met up with the standard DC route.
Thanks go out to Austin for the information. And congratulations to his team!
May 2, 2015
Rangers got some photos from a group who made a one day ascent and ski descent of Rainier via the Fuhrer Finger. They reported firm conditions in the morning with excellent cramponing up to around 13,000 feet. From 13k to the summit, the snow surface was mostly sastrugi with a few pockets of drifted, softer snow. On the descent, the snow in the Finger had softened perfectly; below the Finger, the Wilson and Nisqually glaciers were a bit sloppy in the afternoon heat, but held up well enough.
Coverage and conditions are closer to what one would expect in mid-June. Gibraltar Ledges barely has any snow on it; see the photo below.
Ski Descent of the Fuhrer Finger around 12,000 feet. Take a look at the Gib Ledges route in the background.
Taking a rest break on top of the Finger/Thumb split
April 17, 2015