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NWAC Avalanche
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| | |-+  May 9-10, Rainier Emmons Attempt
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Author Topic: May 9-10, Rainier Emmons Attempt  (Read 1574 times)

Posts: 34

May 9-10, Rainier Emmons Attempt
« on: 05/13/15, 10:02 PM »

With a pretty good weather forecast, Shawn, Will and I decided to have a go at Rainier via the Emmons. Day one offered splitter weather with lots of day trippers headed up the Emmons. We stayed in sneakers all the way to Glacier Basin, though cutting off left earlier and skinning straight at the switchback where the trail first leaves the creek would probably have been better. Creek crossing at G basin was no issue. From there we had straightforward skinning up the Inter, on a very well established if steep track.

We stayed at Schurman, camping on the lee side away from little T. Bathroom at Schurman is open... wide open in fact, as two of the four walls have blown off the building. Best views from the throne I've ever had! Forecast for Sunday showed some weather possibly moving in, so we started early in hopes of getting out before anything arrived. First crevasse crossing was just a few hundred feet from camp, and thereafter they were quite numerous. There was a faint track left from what appeared to be two skiers earlier in the week, so we followed that some but mostly broke trail up the Corridor. About a third of the way up, Shawn (third on rope) popped a ski through in a deep crevasse, but easily extricated while Will and I braced for arrest in case more went. Continuing on, we observed heavy crevassing up the corridor, mostly longitudinal. Nearly all were bridged, so often not particularly distinguishable from the surface. Somewhere further up Will broke a pole through one crossing and got an unnerving look at the hole below. From how thin they were, many of the bridges appeared to be just from the new snow earlier in the week.

At the top of the corridor near 11,200 feet is the safety crux of this part of the route as far as we could tell. The passable terrain chokes down quite narrow, with a serac field on the left and exposure above an icefall below to the right. Crossing the choke perpendicular to the direction of travel is a very large crevasse, running all the way from the seracs on left to the cliff edge on the right. It was wide open on the left with about 20 feet thinly bridged on the right side. It's actually in a bit of a Y shape, so you have to cross one branch of the crack first, traverse 15 feet or so, then cross the other. I crossed first, no excitement. Will went second, but the bridge collapsed under one ski, luckily he lurched forward to make it across. Although feeling strong and in good time, we all got a pretty bad feeling that we should heed the signs we were seeing and turn, so we wouldnt have to push our luck traveling through all this stuff again once the weather warmed up. Per Will:  "we already used two lives this game!"

We turned there, crossing back over carefully. Just as the "bummer to turn around, maybe it's ok" thought entered my mind while traversing back between the two branches of the crack, we heard a giant rumble as a big section of something underneath collapsed and crashed a long ways into the bottom of the crevasse. No change visible on the surface, but a few tons of underlying support definitely fell. That felt like good affirmation on our decision! We downstepped a steep bit and were soon skiing back to camp. On the way down we chatted with the two other parties on the route to provide beta on what we saw. Sounds like they had much better luck, goes to show how much experiences can vary on the same day. AaronBilbao:  good to see you guys out there, and glad to hear you made it out safe!

Personally if I were going back now I wouldn't go for the Emmons, instead trying the Winthrop. I haven't ever been over there but it looked a bit better crevasse-wise, though I know it's steeper and has it's own challenges. I assume eventually the guides or climbing rangers will figure out some kind of laddering over the choke we turned at, but from what we saw they may have to get creative soon. Current bridging is unlikely to last through another warm cycle.

Skiing out from camp was happily uneventful, couldn't ask for better views! 11 AM beers at the car were excellent, as were the Naches tavern and requisite Wapiti Woolies ice cream run.

hitting the trail

glacier basin

skinning near the prow


the throne

upper mountain
« Last Edit: 05/13/15, 10:32 PM by Jonas » Logged

Posts: 457

Re: May 9-10, Rainier Emmons Attempt
« Reply #1 on: 05/14/15, 07:58 AM »

Well played. Looks like the conditions hinted at in Norseman's photo from the prow are reality.
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