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Author Topic: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier  (Read 13949 times)
Amar Andalkar
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August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« on: 08/06/12, 02:19 AM »

Summary: An outstanding midsummer ski descent from the summit of Mount Rainier in excellent corn snow, down a variation of the Emmons-Winthrop route which is not commonly skied or climbed in most years: the Winthrop Glacier direct from Camp Schurman to the summit via Winthrop Corridor, a steeper and nicer ski line than the normal Emmons Corridor. But surprisingly as of a week ago, the Emmons-Winthrop was rerouted to go this way, and it is now the standard maintained summit path from Camp Schurman. Even more surprisingly, we had almost total solitude on the route this day, with only 2 other parties climbing on foot and no other skiers, on a sunny Saturday which was likely the single most perfect weather day of 2012 thus far on the summit of Rainier.


Two-shot panorama / multiple exposure of sweet corn turns down the Winthrop Glacier.

It was also the warmest day of the year so far with temperatures reaching 93 °F in Seattle and the freezing level over 15000 ft with very light winds. Ideal weather for skiing a moderately-steep NE-facing route at 14000+ ft. The route consisted almost entirely of various types of corn snow from the summit down to the end of continuous snow at 6600 ft below Inter Glacier, with only a few patches of moderate frozen sastrugi to cross above 14000 ft and no hazardous mushy conditions anywhere even in late afternoon, the benefit of midsummer consolidation. Smooth springlike corn up high above 12000 ft, well-consolidated summer corn in the mid-elevations to 9000 ft, and solidly-consolidated dirty corn on the Inter Glacier.



An amazing ski run, among the best and most memorable I've ever had considering the snow conditions, uncommon route, and time of year. Just stunning to be able to ski this line, one which I've wanted to ski for over a decade but had never done, in excellent conditions in August!


(photo by HC)


Details: The Winthrop Corridor is a smooth mostly-uncrevassed ramp amidst the heavily-crevassed chaos of the Emmons-Winthrop Glaciers, a broad unbroken shoulder of snow extending from the edge of the summit dome near 14000 ft down below 10000 ft, at a pitch of 35-40 degrees. Just perfect ski terrain and always visible in plain sight from Camp Schurman, with a minor problem which keeps it from being a standard summit route: the toe of the Corridor near 10000 ft is heavily crevassed, usually preventing easy access from Camp Schurman without considerable crevasse navigation and hazard.

It has been several years since the Winthrop Glacier direct route was in good shape for access at the toe of Winthrop Corridor during the normal June-July ski season on the Emmons-Winthrop, perhaps since 2006 (see e.g. this TR from June 2006). Unfortunately I missed skiing it in 2006, as I was working over-time back then as a physicist at UW, and I've been trying to ski it every year since 2007 without success. Several of my Emmons-Winthrop ski trips which have intended to try skiing the Winthrop Corridor have just gone up and down the standard Emmons Corridor route instead, mostly due to crevasse conditions at the toe.


View of the Winthrop Corridor and Inter Glacier from beside the White River.

However, due to major crevasse problems and serac collapses this year at the top of the Emmons Corridor, the Emmons-Winthrop route was re-routed on July 26 (see the Mount Rainier Climbing blog) to go west from Camp Schurman to the base of the Winthrop Corridor, zigzag up through the heavily crevassed toe from 10000 to 10600 ft, and then follow a direct line up the Winthrop Corridor to the crater rim. As soon as I heard of that, I knew I had to try skiing the route as soon as possible, before crevasses and snow conditions got worse. But although the weather was mostly sunny over the next week, a lingering upper trough kept freezing levels in the 11000-12000 ft range -- much too low to ski the NE-facing Emmons-Winthrop in summer conditions, that is a near-guarantee of icy, even scary-icy, ski conditions up high on the route where it is steepest. Finally, a strong ridge of high pressure was forecast for the first weekend in August, with freezing levels over 14000 ft, and ski conditions on the route would likely be as good as they would get for this year.


Zoomed view of the Winthrop Corridor and route from beside the White River.

Unfortunately, finding partners proved to be difficult given that it's August and most of my regular partners were doing other things -- why do most skiers mistakenly think the ski season is long over? even the spring-summer ski mountaineering season? even in an unusually great snowpack year like 2012? It looked like I would have to solo the route if I wanted to do it at all, which is not something that I really felt comfortable doing this year, although I have solo-skied the Emmons-Winthrop a couple of times previously (early July of 2009 and 2010). Thankfully, just as I was about to drive down to Rainier alone on Friday morning, I convinced Hannah to join me, and we eventually got a late afternoon start, which helped us nicely avoid the heat on the hike in.



We left White River Campground at 4:45pm, and although there were a few snow patches on the trail near 5600 ft, we knew it would be all hiking well past Glacier Basin. No bugs at White River or along the trail, but a few mosquitos were biting during a brief food break at Glacier Basin. We reached skinnable snow in about 4 miles and 2 hours near 6800 ft in the gully of the Inter Fork below Inter Glacier, and decided to skin up the now-shaded and re-firming dirty corn.



The snow was a bit too firm already for easy skinning, so Hannah switched back to booting on the steep section but I kept skinning the rest of the way up, to the usual bare crossover onto the Emmons at 9000 ft, which we reached right at sunset.


(photo by HC)

Unfortunately, I didn't realize until looking down from high above on the Winthrop the next day, that there was a perfect smooth ramp of snow connecting across from Camp Curtis near 8800 ft onto the Emmons, which would have allowed me to continue all the way to Camp Schurman on skis -- yes, there is still continuous skiable snow from the summit down to below 6600 ft via the Emmons-Winthrop and Inter Glaciers, highly unusual for August (or even July most years).


Zoomed view looking down on the Inter-Emmons crossing from high on the Winthrop Corridor.

So we booted down the crappy loose eroded path onto the Emmons, arriving just as the reddish near-full moon rose beyond the Emmons Glacier terminus at 9pm. The photo doesn't do justice to just how cool this moonrise was.



We reached Camp Schurman near 9:30pm, and spent the next hour eating dinner and melting 7 liters of water for the evening and the next day. Despite the 15000 ft freezing level, it was quite chilly at Schurman with a cool easterly breeze, and we were both wearing full down jackets. We planned a leisurely start on a skier's schedule the next morning, so the late arrival was no big deal. But the unexpectedly gusty wind and the usual scurrying mice (how do they survive the winter with no food at 9500 ft??) made getting to sleep difficult in our open bivy with sleeping bags and pads only, no tent.




I awoke with a start at 6am, about 10 minutes after sunrise and annoyed to be too late to view the full glory of the dawn and sunrise colors (apparently the moon was setting over the summit just before sunrise, too). It was still quite chilly in the shaded portions of the camp until the run rose high enough to shine over the rocks, so we were not eager to get up until then.



We headed up just before 8am, cramponing on foot and roped up. The bootpack traverses west from Camp Schurman, going up to 9700 ft then losing perhaps 50 ft in a gentle traverse below a large serac-fall area, before beginning a series of switchbacks through crevasses up the toe of Winthrop Corridor. The crux was at 10200 ft, with a snow-block crevasse crossing and about 50 ft of semi-hard gray glacial ice, followed by an open crevasse with a 3 ft step needed to cross it, enough to give us a long pause for contemplation.


Two-shot panorama of the Winthrop Glacier just above the crux area.

The route weaves through a few more crevasses up to about 10600 ft, where it climbs directly over a large crack via some fallen blocks, which looked nasty but was easy to ascend -- skiing down across it would end up being a bit more difficult. Above that it was a cruise, a smooth ramp with almost no crevasse issues. Above 13000 ft, there were a handful of obvious sags and crevasses and the bootpack needlessly crossed three open crevasses which each had an easy end-run around to the right, which we decided to do in each case.



We unroped above the last crevasses at 14000 ft and stayed on snow up to the north side of the east crater rim near 14300 ft, then took the crampons off to hike the mostly-bare rim to the true summit, with a deep trench through the snow for the final yards.



We topped out on Columbia Crest at 1:45pm, in total solitude and nearly calm winds, with a maximum wind gust of 10mph over several minutes. True air temperature in the shade was about 37 °F, but it felt much warmer with the bright sunshine and cloudless skies. Just an absolutely gorgeous day to be atop the highest point in the Cascade Range.



We skied down around 2:20pm, finding a large patch of smooth corn on a NW aspect just a few feet below the summit. A few short sections of sastrugi to bounce over as we traversed back east to rejoin the bootpack, but otherwise the snow was mostly smooth and mostly softened enough for good skiing.


Skiing the patch of corn off of the NW side of Columbia Crest. (photo by HC)

The corn was just barely softened enough as we rolled over from the summit dome onto the steepest part of the Winthrop Corridor near 13800 ft, but it quickly became just right as we descended further.


(photo by HC)



The Corridor narrows below 12000 ft, and so there are more crevasses near the route, but it was easy to make turns on smooth snow just off to either side of the bootpack while staying safely away from the cracks.



The crevasse at 10600 ft required either a small jump, or a down-climb of about 5 ft across the blocks wedged in its opening, and then it was a series of cautious turns staying close to the switchbacking bootpack through the crevasses below that.


Two-shot panorama / multiple exposure of turns through the crevasses near the toe of the Winthrop Corridor.

We skied the entire route except for about 50 vertical feet at the crux crevasse near 10200 ft, where we stepped across the 3 ft gap and downclimbed the bare glacial ice in crampons. Actually, it turns out that this entire crux area could have been easily bypassed by traversing around to its east, and we found out when we got back to camp that the climbing rangers were planning to reroute this section the next day. It's too bad that I didn't think to look at my zoomed photos from Camp Schurman, but the thought never crossed my mind to do so as we skied down to the crux.


Zoomed view of the crevasses at the toe of the Winthrop Corridor, showing a possible route around the bare glacial ice and open crevasse near 10200 ft.

Below the crux, the rest of the ski was a cruise except the uphill portion of the traverse, which was a bit of work to shuffle-step up without skins (we'd left the skins at camp). The snow conditions were still good all the way down to Camp Schurman. A large number of parties had arrived and the camp was much more crowded than the night before -- clearly there would be a lot more than 2 parties climbing the route on Sunday, but we saw no other skiers there. Several people told us that they had enjoyed watching our ski descent of the route from camp.



We packed up our minimal campsite, chatted with the climbing rangers for a while, and skied down the short section of the Emmons Glacier at 5:30pm. The snow was surprisingly nice, mostly smooth soft corn and totally uncrevassed to skier's right (east) of the bootpack.



We took the skis off at the glacier's edge, climbed a short bit to the flat traverse trail towards Camp Curtis, and then rejoined the snow ramp which provided a skiable traverse right to site #1 at the camp (see photo above, looking down from the Winthrop). This would have been a fine way to go on the ascent to Schurman, as the crevasses near and below the snow ramp were not very threatening, and easily passable on skis.



Even on the Inter Glacier, the snow skied much better than expected and better than it looked (rough, bumpy, suncupped). It was still well softened in the sun at 6pm, and the various ridges and bumps could be carved over and through easily. There are a number of large open crevasses and sags on various parts of the glacier, more than I've seen on any previous ski trip (although I've only skied it this late in the year once before, following a summit ski via the standard Emmons route on August 1, 2011). We saw a couple of fresh ski tracks from earlier in the day, but for me the Inter Glacier would no longer be a worthwhile destination on its own for turns this summer -- there are much better options on Rainier (e.g. Paradise or Fryingpan Glaciers) or Baker with a lot more skiing and less hiking.



Below 7500 ft, the steep slope at the Inter Glacier's terminus is very dirty and strewn with large numbers of fallen rocks. Still skiable and even fun with caution, and below it we followed the cleaner snow-filled gully of the Inter Fork down to 6600 ft.



We switched back to shoes and with a short cross-country traverse, we were back on the trail. The steep moraine portion of the trail was miserable as usual, but at least there was a profusion of wildflowers to enjoy and it had cooled down in the evening from the near-record highs of the day. We were back to the car by 8:30pm with plenty of daylight to spare, tired but not exhausted, and stoked to have skied the Winthrop Corridor in amazing conditions.



I've had a lot of great volcano ski trips since mid-May this year, mostly in prime corn snow conditions (Rainier 3x, Little Tahoma, Shasta 4x, Adams, Baker, South Sister 3x, Middle Sister 2x, Lassen 2x, among others). But this one feels like the climax of an outstanding 2012 spring-summer ski season, finally skiing a long-sought route on the great Mountain in excellent conditions, in August no less! About 10400 ft of total ascent for 7800 vert of mostly good to great skiing, much of it on nice corn, and all of it in solitude. Especially nice to spend part of the warmest day of the year at the coolest spot in Washington and probably the entire lower 48, fully 56 °F cooler than Seattle was on this day. I can't believe nobody else was up there skiing it and avoiding the heat! The route probably will be good for another week or two at most, as summer warmth is expected to continue.

« Last Edit: 08/06/12, 12:06 PM by Amar Andalkar » Logged

Amar Andalkar
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #1 on: 08/06/12, 02:48 AM »

For future reference, here is the Rainier forecast and the telemetry from Camp Muir on the opposite side of the Mountain during the weekend of this trip, which brought record heat to the lowlands of Western Washington. Seattle (SeaTac Airport) reached a high of 93 °F on both Saturday and Sunday, August 4-5, with Sunday's value setting a new record for the date. Very interesting to see the overnight lows at Camp Muir not drop below about 50 °F. Despite the warm temperatures, radiational cooling during the very clear evenings and nights allowed the snowpack to freeze solidly overnight down to the end of the continuous snow near 6600 ft, well over 8000 ft below the free-air freezing levels of 15000+ ft. The unexpectedly breezy winds on Friday evening and overnight are also evident, as are the nearly calm winds during the day on Saturday.


MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
403 AM PDT FRI AUG 3 2012

...WARMEST WEATHER SO FAR THIS YEAR EXPECTED THIS WEEKEND...

SYNOPSIS...HIGH PRESSURE ALOFT WILL PREVAIL OVER THE REGION THROUGH THIS WEEKEND FOR MUCH WARM WEATHER.

TODAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 14500 FEET.
TONIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY NIGHT...CLEAR. FREEZING LEVEL ABOVE 15000 FEET.
SUNDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL ABOVE 15000 FEET.
SUNDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A SLIGHT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. SNOW LEVEL 14500 FEET.
MONDAY...PARTLY SUNNY. A SLIGHT CHANCE OF MORNING THUNDERSTORMS. SNOW LEVEL 12500 FEET.
MONDAY NIGHT AND TUESDAY...MOSTLY CLEAR. FREEZING LEVEL 13500 FEET.
TUESDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 13000 FEET.
WEDNESDAY...PARTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 12500 FEET.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 13500 FEET.
THURSDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 13500 FEET.

TEMPERATURE AND WIND FORECASTS FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS.

                     TODAY  TONIGHT  SAT    SAT    SUN
                                          NIGHT       

SUMMIT   (14411 FT)     32     32     32     33     32
                      N 21   N  9  NW  4   W 12   W 10

CAMP MUIR(10188 FT)     44     48     49     52     51
                     NE  5   E  4  SE  4  SW  6  SW  7

PARADISE  (5420 FT)     70     55     80     59     79
                     NE  6  NE 10  NE  8  NE  4   W  3

LONGMIRE  (2700 FT)     81     51     91     54     91
                     CALM   CALM   CALM   CALM   CALM 



Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center
Camp Muir, Mt Rainier National Park, Washington

Wind gages unheated and may rime
ATRH sensor replaced and working--0800_6-28-12

  MM/DD   Hour   Temp     RH   Wind   Wind   Wind   Wind  Solar
           PST      F      %    Min    Avg    Max    Dir   W/m2
               10110' 10110' 10110' 10110' 10110' 10110' 10110'
---------------------------------------------------------------
    8 3      0     44     13      0      2      8    342      0
    8 3    100     42     18      0      2      5    327      0
    8 3    200     43     14      0      4      9    274      0
    8 3    300     44     13      0      2      6    269      0
    8 3    400     43     15      0      1      4    334      0
    8 3    500     44     16      0      1      5    275      4
    8 3    600     43     17      0      1      4    292     81
    8 3    700     44     23      0      2      6    244    249
    8 3    800     44     21      0      4      8    257    458
    8 3    900     49     23      1      4      8    244    661
    8 3   1000     50     20      2      5      8    236    836
    8 3   1100     51     19      2      6     12     71    966
    8 3   1200     49     14      3     13     23     66   1042
    8 3   1300     48     21     11     16     24     62   1056
    8 3   1400     49     19     12     18     24     57   1007
    8 3   1500     45     61      9     18     23     60    904
    8 3   1600     47     34      6     14     21     58    744
    8 3   1700     44     72      4     16     21     57    555
    8 3   1800     45     68      3      8     14     53    266
    8 3   1900     51     34      4      9     20     60     18
    8 3   2000     52     34      5     14     21     52      7
    8 3   2100     52     35      8     15     22     54      0
    8 3   2200     51     17      8     13     20     50      0
    8 3   2300     46     26      6     14     26     58      0
---------------------------------------------------------------
    8 4      0     missing data
    8 4    100     missing data
    8 4    200     missing data
    8 4    300     missing data
    8 4    400     missing data
    8 4    500     52     37      5     10     18     48      4
    8 4    600     53     35      7     12     16     48     75
    8 4    700     54     34      5     10     16     59    241
    8 4    800     53     39      3      6     13     55    448
    8 4    900     50     48      2      5     10     36    650
    8 4   1000     55     35      3      7     12     69    823
    8 4   1100     58     30      1      4     10     53    958
    8 4   1200     57     33      2      4      7     36   1035
    8 4   1300     58     33      0      2      4     30   1052
    8 4   1400     59     30      0      3      5    242   1003
    8 4   1500     57     33      1      2      4    225    901
    8 4   1600     55     39      0      2      6     19    743
    8 4   1700     54     46      1      2      6     26    553
    8 4   1800     50     53      1      3      6     22    263
    8 4   1900     49     56      1      3      6     30     18
    8 4   2000     53     34      0      3      4    301      6
    8 4   2100     54     32      0      2      7     10      0
    8 4   2200     55     27      0      2     10    306      0
    8 4   2300     54     30      3      6     12    263      0
---------------------------------------------------------------
    8 5      0     54     28      0      3      7    255      0
    8 5    100     54     30      0      2      7    342      0
    8 5    200     54     26      0      0      2    280      0
    8 5    300     54     26      0      1      6    300      0
    8 5    400     53     28      0      2      5    335      0
    8 5    500     54     25      0      1      4    358      4
    8 5    600     56     24      0      1      2    302     69
    8 5    700     56     27      0      0      2    284    240
    8 5    800     59     21      0      1      4    243    450
    8 5    900     56     23      1      5      7    259    653
    8 5   1000     57     27      3      4      6    250    829
    8 5   1100     58     13      0      3      7    224    956
    8 5   1200     62     21      2      5      7    249   1026
    8 5   1300     56     52      0      3      8    268   1044
    8 5   1400     60     42      1      3      7    321   1001
    8 5   1500     56     63      0      2      7    272    901
    8 5   1600     55     50      1      4     10     17    741
    8 5   1700     56     49      1      3      8    334    447
    8 5   1800     55     56      0      2      4    250    260
    8 5   1900     53     56      0      2      7    320     67
    8 5   2000     53     60      1      3      5    279      5
    8 5   2100     52     54      2      5     11    251      0
    8 5   2200     52     50      7     11     16    265      0
    8 5   2300     52     35      9     12     17    260      0
---------------------------------------------------------------




« Last Edit: 08/07/12, 11:41 AM by Amar Andalkar » Logged

JibberD
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #2 on: 08/06/12, 07:29 AM »

What a great report. Congratulations to you and your partner Amar.

How many times have you climbed Mt. Rainier?
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-Doug O
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #3 on: 08/06/12, 08:06 AM »

Looks wonderful!  Congrats Amar Smiley
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daveb
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #4 on: 08/06/12, 09:09 AM »

Really wish I could have cloned myself this weekend!  Damn nice trip you two.
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ron j
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #5 on: 08/06/12, 09:12 AM »

Very impressive work, Amar and Pandora.
Way to work the mountain and stay safe.
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Andrew Carey
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #6 on: 08/06/12, 09:42 AM »

Great report, great photos!
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Amar Andalkar
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #7 on: 08/06/12, 10:28 AM »

Thanks everyone for the kind words.

What a great report. Congratulations to you and your partner Amar.

How many times have you climbed Mt. Rainier?

This was my 26th Rainier summit, and 22nd ski descent, via the 10th different route that I've skied or climbed. My first climb on foot was in August 1998 via the DC, and first ski descent was in July 1999 via the Emmons-Winthrop. Most of my summits and ski descents have come since 2007, I've been fortunate enough to summit 3-5 times in each year since 2007. My partner on this trip is ahead of me by a long shot though: it was her 52nd Rainier summit (by about 22 different routes) since 2001, including over 15 ski descents. She had also climbed the Winthrop Glacier direct route once before on foot, in September of 2005 or 2006.

In the interest of full disclosure, 23 of my 26 summits have been to the true summit of Columbia Crest (14411 ft), as have 18 of my 22 ski descents, while the other 4 descents have started from various points on the crater rim or summit dome (14100-14300 ft) due to strong winds, incoming weather, or circumstances such as a pulled-out toepiece last June while skinning up the Emmons. I've summited Liberty Cap (14112 ft) once and Point Success (14158 ft) twice, but also reached Columbia Crest on the same trip each of those times.

See this thread (Accuracy in reporting) for more discussion of what counts as a summit on Rainier (and other WA volcanoes), my post is reply #10.

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JibberD
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #8 on: 08/06/12, 01:43 PM »

Thanks everyone for the kind words.

This was my 26th Rainier summit, and 22nd ski descent, via the 10th different route that I've skied or climbed.

See this thread (Accuracy in reporting) for more discussion of what counts as a summit on Rainier (and other WA volcanoes), my post is reply #10.

That's an impressive track record Amar. I've enjoyed reading about these over the past several years. The most memorable one was when you spent the night in a steam vent on the summit. That is quite a story. Better get crackin' on the procreation because this is the kind of stuff that mesmerizes grandchildren.

Agreed on the summit issues. I've been to the top once and made darned sure to hike about and tag every high spot in sight... just in case. We then had our photo taken at the "summit" with the camera facing due south and there is a bump over our shoulders that looks higher than the spot we are standing on. Sure enough, 9 out of 10 people comment on it not looking like we actually went all the way up.
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elliotts
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #9 on: 08/07/12, 08:29 AM »

Looks like another wonderful trip, Amar! Wish I hadn't been moving, I would have loved to join you two.
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Rusty Knees
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #10 on: 08/07/12, 09:01 AM »

Very nice adventure, Amar and Hanna.  Really inspiring!
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #11 on: 08/07/12, 11:37 AM »

Thanks for another great TR!
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PowderT
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #12 on: 08/07/12, 04:18 PM »

Very good work! I like the clear descriptions and lots of photos. Very inspiring report
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Snow Bell
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #13 on: 08/07/12, 05:35 PM »

Your patience and persistence concerning that route have now payed dividends to you, your partner and even the rest of us who are ogling the photos.

Thanks for the excellent TR Amar.
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Oyvind_Henningsen
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #14 on: 08/08/12, 04:55 PM »

Another great one Hannah and Amar !
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Lytt til erfarne fjellfolk!
mikerolfs
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #15 on: 08/08/12, 11:45 PM »

jtack and I pondered your route from the summit of Ingalls Peak today as we had an excellent view of the mountain from the East.  We thought maybe it was the crevasse free line just south of the prow above inter glacier, and then we though maybe it was the crevasse free line just north of the prow (from our vantage point).  Anyway, we had a lengthy summit conversation about the patience it took for you to get to ski that line and we also were able to admire the length of it from afar.  It added value to our view of Rainier to think about your trip report which we had both read separately, but had not yet discussed.  Thanks Amar, I enjoy your reports.
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mtj
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #16 on: 08/12/12, 05:37 PM »

Nice work!  We were the party of three descending from the summit, we passed as you were ascending.

Strong work climbing up that face in the sun--it was hot for us even going down.

It is cool to find this TR with excellent pics of such a great day (and the night before climbing up by moonlight was really great too)

Anyway cheers and congratulations on your successful descents!
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jhamaker
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Re: August -12, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #17 on: 08/13/12, 08:53 PM »

Eight skiers descended on the Winthrop Gl. last wk-end to see if Amar's promisses still held true.

It was a fun route.  Sam the Man and Pete? showed the way down this wk-end.  Ice and my curved tele skis don't go well together, so I walked down the upper half.

The crevasses are twice what they were reported from the wk previous.  Suncups and ice runnels/ rime nodules were beggining to be an issue.  I actually thought that some of the better skiing was to be had on the Interglacier - consistent dirty corn.

Excelent skiable route finding arround the slots by Sam and Co.  Brian L. and I followed those tracks as they smothed out the suncups and gave an indication of the temperment of the snow. 

I see now why folks hike in just for the Interglacier.  I'll be watching the gate openings next year!

p.s.  One ranger got me thinking - a traverse of the mountain.  p.m. if interested.
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all mtn
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Re: August 3-4, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #18 on: 08/15/12, 01:31 PM »

I like how you compare the temperature to the icy conditions; and how it is safer to ski when it is not in hard conditions. I still have a photocopy of the Emmons/ Winthrop you did about 5 yrs ago. Have you skied Mt Mc Kinley before. The snowboarder Steve Koch did.  -thanks
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Snow Bell
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Re: August -12, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #19 on: 08/15/12, 02:08 PM »

Sam the Man and Pete? showed the way down this wk-end. 

Not quite James... you and I first met once skiing with Sam but it was Tom B and I that you are thinking of. 
Anyway, it was good to run into you and we were glad to watch you make use of our exit route as we packed up at Camp Sherman.  Who would have thought that we would ski the entire decent with only one short downclimb?  I thought that was pretty cool. Grin

I wonder how the group of four fared.  We watched them for a minute when we were passing through Camp Curtis and they were still very high on the mountain.   Perhaps their patience paid off with some softening on the upper mountain but it didn't seem to me like it was ever going to happen that day despite the warm temps.

All in all a great route and the Interglacier was the icing on the cake.
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Amar Andalkar
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Re: August -12, 2012, Mt Rainier, Winthrop Glacier
« Reply #20 on: 08/17/12, 12:01 AM »

Eight skiers descended on the Winthrop Gl. last wk-end to see if Amar's promisses still held true.

Thanks for the updated report from the following weekend, it's interesting to see how the route held up and also how conditions changed. By the way, I make no promises in my trip reports -- I just try to report current conditions as accurately as possible, and evaluate the merits of a route as objectively as I can. Obviously conditions can change rapidly, especially so on Rainier during an extended period of warm summery weather, and a route that I think is outstanding may not be so for others.

Regarding the snow not softening all the way to the summit, the one key difference between August 4 and 12 is the wind: it was significantly windier on August 12, with a NWS forecast wind of 20 mph at the summit, versus the stunningly low wind forecast of only 4 mph on August 4 (among the handful of calmest days at the summit all year). The telemetry from Camp Muir confirms higher winds on August 12 even at elevations down to 10000 ft, with winds up to 20 mph during that afternoon, versus winds under 5 mph at Muir on the afternoon of August 4.

So despite freezing levels being over 15000 ft on both weekends, the snow could not soften nearly as much on August 12 due to the higher winds. On a fairly steep north or NE-facing route like Winthrop Glacier, the sun is hitting the snow at quite a shallow angle even at midday, which reduces the power per unit area received by the snow surface roughly by a factor of a half, compared to a south side route where the sun hits directly closer to perpendicular for many hours. Thus the north-facing snow needs all the help it can get in order to properly soften, and any wind is definitely not helping. The wind removes the thin layer of sun-warmed air just above the snow surface, thus reducing the rate of snow-softening relative to a calm day. This puts the snow surface closer to the threshold of just barely remaining frozen as it did on August 12, even with air temperatures well above freezing.

The Rainier forecast and telemetry from Camp Muir for August 3-5 are posted above in reply #1, while the ones for August 10-13 are below.



MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
338 AM PDT SAT AUG 11 2012
 
SYNOPSIS...AN UPPER LEVEL RIDGE WILL SLOWLY BUILD OVER THE AREA TODAY THROUGH SUNDAY. SKIES WILL BE MAINLY CLEAR AND DAYTIME HIGHS WILL BE WARM. ONSHORE FLOW WILL INCREASE SUNDAY NIGHT THROUGH TUESDAY FOR SOME COOLING AND AN INCREASE IN NIGHT AND MORNING CLOUDS. A STRONG RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE ALOFT COMBINED WITH LOW LEVEL OFFSHORE FLOW WILL GIVE SUNNY WEATHER LATE IN THE WEEK.

SATURDAY...SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 14500 FEET.
SATURDAY NIGHT...CLEAR. FREEZING LEVEL ABOVE 15000 FEET.
SUNDAY...SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL ABOVE 15000 FEET.
SUNDAY NIGHT...CLEAR. FREEZING LEVEL ABOVE 15000 FEET.
MONDAY...SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL ABOVE 15000 FEET.
MONDAY NIGHT THROUGH TUESDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLEAR. FREEZING LEVEL ABOVE 15000 FEET.
WEDNESDAY...SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 14500 FEET.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND THURSDAY...MOSTLY CLEAR. FREEZING LEVEL ABOVE 15000 FEET.
THURSDAY NIGHT AND FRIDAY...MOSTLY CLEAR. FREEZING LEVEL ABOVE 15000 FEET.

TEMPERATURE AND WIND FORECASTS FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS.

                       SAT    SAT    SUN    SUN    MON 
                            NIGHT         NIGHT       

SUMMIT   (14411 FT)     29     30     30     31     32
                      W 18   W 17  SW 20   W 21   W 21

CAMP MUIR(10188 FT)     47     49     49     50     49
                      W  4  SW  5  SW  8   W 11   W 14

PARADISE  (5420 FT)     73     58     76     58     69
                      N  4  NW  4   W  4   W  8   S  2

LONGMIRE  (2700 FT)     83     50     86     50     80
                     NE  4  NW  4  NW  5   W  8  NE  1



Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center
Camp Muir, Mt Rainier National Park, Washington

Wind gages unheated and may rime
ATRH sensor replaced and working--0800_6-28-12


  MM/DD   Hour   Temp     RH   Wind   Wind   Wind   Wind  Solar
           PST      F      %    Min    Avg    Max    Dir   W/m2
               10110' 10110' 10110' 10110' 10110' 10110' 10110'
---------------------------------------------------------------
   8 10    500     44     28      0      2      6     20      2
   8 10    600     45     29      0      3      6     30     46
   8 10    700     48     25      0      1      4    305    145
   8 10    800     46     29      0      6     14     15    429
   8 10    900     46     31      3      7     11     21    632
   8 10   1000     46     32      7     12     16     21    810
   8 10   1100     46     35      9     12     15     22    936
   8 10   1200     48     45      8     10     13     24   1016
   8 10   1300     49     62      4      7     10     25   1028
   8 10   1400     54     66      2      5      8     27    980
   8 10   1500     58     36      0      2      4     29    883
   8 10   1600     56     30      0      2      6     31    724
   8 10   1700     52     30      0      2      5     32    534
   8 10   1800     50     29      0      1      4     30    244
   8 10   1900    -39     20      0      4      7     25     20  Note: The temperature data
   8 10   2000    -39     17      0      3      8     21      5        appears to be unreliable
   8 10   2100    -39     16      0      3      8     20      0        from this point onward.
   8 10   2200    198    100      0      1      4     19      0
   8 10   2300    117     60      0      2      6     19      0
---------------------------------------------------------------
   8 11      0    206     98      0      1      6     19      0
   8 11    100    -39     11      0      1      4     19      0
   8 11    200    -39     13      0      7     13     19      0
   8 11    300    -39     14      6      9     11     19      0
   8 11    400    -39     15      7     10     12     20      0
   8 11    500    -39     13      4      7      9     19      1
   8 11    600    -39     13      1      6      8     19     32
   8 11    700    -39     15      0      1      2     19    175
   8 11    800    -39      0      0      1      4     20    429
   8 11    900    -39      0      0      2      3     21    634
   8 11   1000    -39      0      0      1      4     22    812
   8 11   1100    -39      0      0      2      5     25    942
   8 11   1200     54     19      0      1      3     27   1018
   8 11   1300     59     20      0      1      4     30   1032
   8 11   1400     56     65      0      3      7     31    979
   8 11   1500     52     97      1      4     11     31    875
   8 11   1600     51     85      1      3      9     32    715
   8 11   1700     53     69      2      5     10     31    523
   8 11   1800     61     68      3      5      9     29    233
   8 11   1900     65     65      0      4      6     24     18
   8 11   2000     65     64      1      5      7     21      4
   8 11   2100     64     67      1      3      5     19      0
   8 11   2200     64     61      1      2      5     19      0
   8 11   2300     69     45      0      2      5     18      0
---------------------------------------------------------------
   8 12      0     67     53      6      8     12     20      0
   8 12    100     67     51      0      7     14     20      0
   8 12    200     65     53      0      2      8     21      0
   8 12    300     64     57      3      5      9     18      0
   8 12    400     63     53      1      6     11     18      0
   8 12    500     63     58      3      6      9     18      1
   8 12    600     66     47      0      4      9     18     31
   8 12    700     60     40      0      1      4     19    170
   8 12    800     56     16      0      1      4     19    434
   8 12    900     57     14      0      1      4     21    642
   8 12   1000     13     48      1      8     11     23    819
   8 12   1100     85     59      9     11     13     24    953
   8 12   1200     52     69      5      9     11     26   1030
   8 12   1300    135     93      7     12     19     27   1035
   8 12   1400     51     76     11     14     18     27    959
   8 12   1500     93     82     12     17     22     27    852
   8 12   1600     42     98     14     20     26     27    688
   8 12   1700     76     80      9     14     16     26    485
   8 12   1800     68     74     11     15     17     25    210
   8 12   1900     69     69     14     19     25     23     22
   8 12   2000     80     72     14     19     24     22      3
   8 12   2100     95     70      1     12     19     21      0
   8 12   2200    105     77      2     11     18     21      0
   8 12   2300     89     60      4     11     13     21      0
---------------------------------------------------------------
   8 13      0     73     53      0      4     12     20      0
   8 13    100     32     49      0      1      4     20      0
   8 13    200     69     49      0      2      4     20      0
   8 13    300     69     48      0      3      7     20      0
   8 13    400     69     48      0      4      9     20      0
   8 13    500     68     50      1      3      6     19      1
   8 13    600     69     49      0      2      6     19     24
   8 13    700     70     31      0      1      4     20    164
   8 13    800     70     22      0      1      4     20    426
   8 13    900     74     20      0      1      3     22    603
   8 13   1000     71     23      0      1      4     24    807
   8 13   1100     73     70      0      2      4     26    937
   8 13   1200     77     72      0      2      6     29   1005
   8 13   1300     69     88      1      3      5     31   1029
   8 13   1400     85     82      1      3      6     32    969
   8 13   1500     83     87      0      2      7     34    864
   8 13   1600     66     93      0      2      6     34    693
   8 13   1700     14     84      0      2      5     34    506
   8 13   1800     25     63      1      3      5     31    223
   8 13   1900     65     53      0      2      6     27     20
   8 13   2000     53     50      0      2      6     23      4
   8 13   2100     56     53      0      3      9     22      0
   8 13   2200     55     52      0      2      6     22      0
   8 13   2300     52     51      0      2      6     22      0
---------------------------------------------------------------


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