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| |-+  September 2014 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  September 11, 2014, Mt. Rainier, Flett Glacier
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Author Topic: September 11, 2014, Mt. Rainier, Flett Glacier  (Read 5567 times)

Posts: 15

September 11, 2014, Mt. Rainier, Flett Glacier
« on: 09/12/14, 03:11 PM »

[ Update: VIDEO LINK ]

Earlier this week I saw Kyle's TR from the Russell glacier. Having never been to the Mowich side of MRNP I didn't quite know what to expect, and due to my spur of the moment decision to go, this became my second solo adventure. (--though arguably the first... can you ever truly be alone on the Muir Snowfield in June?).

I wanted to camp in Spray Park, but the Carbon River Ranger station closed well before I could get there and due to my nearly complete lack of planning I just ended up setting up my tent at Mowich Lake to get an early start the next day after an unsurprisingly dissatisfying dinner of noodles and hotdogs.

I was off around 7am, figuring that with the cooler temps that the snow up high wouldn't be particularly traversable until later in the day anyway. I made it to the high point along the Wonderland trail, right next to a big cairn with a yellow arrow smeared onto it marking the climber's trail towards the Flett. Following the trail and scrambling through some bands of scree I made my way up the Flett itself for a while.

Despite having a map, and a faded memory of Kyle's report, I had no idea how cracked sections of the Russell were, or where was best to get onto it. It looked nice in the photos, but I didn't grasp exactly where the line that had been skied earlier this month was. Being that I was alone, and that the Russell had some gnarly man-eater cracks where I had initially thought a good spot to traverse would be, I stayed on the Flett.

Climbing the main wall of the Flett was rough. I didn't bring any ice tools (because I'm dumb), and ended up climbing a slabby scree ridge after running into nearly solid snow and balancing on tiny kickstep platforms just big enough for my toes to get to the rocks. Sketchy. Still, I made it up and climbed more scree, hoping, maybe, to find a good way onto the Russell that didn't make me feel uncomfortable. I never found it and hiked up to about 8,600 ft to a small camping ring perched on the ridge above the Mowich glacier. Above that the ridge becomes a narrow sub-peak of very loose rock that I tried to find a way over in a quick packless scouting mission that made me wish I was walking the knife-edge on Hood again instead. The hike was at least well worth the view, and it was cool to see the Willis Wall dumping all kinds of debris down onto the Carbon Glacier.

I ate the rest of my food and ran dry on water before I hiked back down the scree to the top of the Flett and skied down between Observation and Echo. I hopped snow-patches back to the main trail. The snow was a mix of ice, suncups, and corn, though being September, and much better than my August run of the Muir snowfield 2 years ago (suncups? sunbathtubs), it was pretty fantastic. It wasn't as good as the Russell, I'm sure, but I also just wasn't willing to venture out there. The hike out ended up being rough. I thought I had brought water purification drops only to discover that the bottle of activator was empty for some reason (a leak? I don't know). It ended up being a very long hike back to Mowich Lake, though I still made time to check out Spray Falls, which is one of the coolest waterfalls in MRNP and great to see in the evening before sunset.

All in all, 100% worth it. I'm tempted to go back to Spray again. The area is really amazing, and for people who want to make the long trek, it is beyond worth it. It's like Paradise and Sunrise, minus the troops of tourists.

The Flett

View from my highpoint

(Video to come soon, I have to post that tonight.)
« Last Edit: 09/12/14, 10:41 PM by MNMike » Logged

Posts: 155

Re: September 11, 2014, Mt. Rainier, Flett Glacier
« Reply #1 on: 09/13/14, 04:02 PM »

Thanks for the timely report - amazing!  Just what I needed on this hot September Saturday.  Love the video.

Posts: 60

Re: September 11, 2014, Mt. Rainier, Flett Glacier
« Reply #2 on: 09/14/14, 01:41 PM »

Solid work! I'm glad you got out to enjoy that side of the mountain. The longer trek is a worthy price to pay for so few people  Smiley
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