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Author Topic: April 1-2, 2016 - Mt. Rainier - Ingraham Direct  (Read 3902 times)
lukehumphrey
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April 1-2, 2016 - Mt. Rainier - Ingraham Direct
« on: 04/03/16, 06:59 PM »


Muir Saturday morning.

We watched the sunrise from Rainierís crater rim on Sat morning, then pushed off on splitboards back down the Ingraham Direct route. It was a little too windy for my taste above 12k ft, but I knew we wouldnít be up there long.

Here are the highlights:
  • I recently returned from a 2-week trip to West/NW Africa and hadnít exercised while there - at all. A quick 60-pound pack trip up Mailbox on Tue night and a Wed night weight training session my legs left my quads pretty sore. Thatís usually a bad sign before a Rainier attempt.
  • Fri morning at 7am we head off to Paradise, quads still sore.
  • Weather/condition forecasts had been changing a bit during the week. A Fri morning check predicted 25mph winds Fri night changing to 35mph winds Sat AM up top, coming from NW then W. Seemed manageable, coming up the eastside would provide some buffer. Clouds were supposed to move in Sat. AM for a bit then dissipate, I hoped they'd be low.
  • Our 4th partner wasnít into the snowboard/ski descent thing, not even from Muir when towing an overnight pack. Iíve changed over the years into someone who doesnít like walking in the mountains if I can avoid it, but everyone is different.
  • My pack ended up being just over 30 pounds with my share of group gear. Nice and light for an overnight climb up Rainier. I wore my harness + gear and a camera bag with my camera + other stuff around my waist, so in total I had 35-38lbs. I remember when I used to always have 60. Not bringing a 15-pound camera dolly everywhere helps. I really love this pack though, itís a super simple Arcíteryx FL 45L. I hadnít tested it on a climb like this yet, ended up working great.
  • Skinned up to Muir purposely taking our sweet time. It was actually nice and cool above Pan face.
  • Piotr blazed ahead and was there ~1 hour before us. He definitely shouldíve towed up that snowboard.
  • Dereck had buried a bunch of Rainier beers around 9k ft in a training run last weekend. He was turned around by last weekend's incoming weather. He dug them up and I helped carry 5 up to the shelter to share with wary climbers.
  • Route choice had been left up in the air. Options were Gib Ledges, ID via Cadaver Gap, ID via the Cathedral route. Gib Ledges had recently re-opened after the death of a climber below the ledges earlier in the week. Dereck and I had already done the route in Jan last year. Piotr had done it, but retreated at the top of Gib rock after weather came in, Alin hadnít done it. None of us had done the Ingraham Direct route.
  • I talked to as many people as possible at Muir for beta. A large group had done the ID and said it went, but veered onto the DC higher up and had a big crevasse crossing. Another party had climbed the ledges and were heading down the ID. I could now see them at the top of Cathedral Gap, and they confirmed the ID condition when they arrived at Muir around 230pm.
  • Based on the recent spring melt out and the relatively summer-ish temps on the mountain, I didnít want to be on the upper mountain when the sun started warming. Because of this I wanted to leave at 11pm. I compromised with the group for a 11:45 wake-up, 1am climb time.
  • We ended up leaving Muir around 1:45am per my GPS. Dereck and I brought our splitboards, planning to stash them on the Ingraham Flats min.
  • There was no moon, so it was dark. Planning for this I brought this new headlamp from Lupine called the Piko. Holy s the thing was bright. For 180g I donít think you can get brighter. The lamp lit up the area from the DC to Gib rock on the ID, which helped at a few spots with route trend.
  • We decided to skip Cadaver Gap due to some uncertainty and head up Catherdral instead. Alin was in the lead, with Piotr and Dereck behind me.
  • Soon we were at the base of the ID on the Ingraham flats. We caught up with a party of two next to the top of Cadaver Gap. They told us they had just witnessed a serac collapse and the rumbling sounded like a 747 to them. We looked about 100ft to our right and saw the debris. It wasnít huge, but it definitely wasnít small. Some of the chunks probably would've killed you given a direct hit.
  • The party of 2 started to head up the ID and we followed, passing them pretty quickly. I could tell they were very green, and probably shouldn't be on the mountain, especially in early spring. As we made our way over several crevasses and up a steep-ish part of the ID, I heard the leader of the pair screaming at his partner to go faster.
  • There was quite a gaper at around 11,500ft that was harder to jump going uphill, but doable.
  • Our pace felt very slow to me, something felt wrong as usually Alin is a lot faster. By 12k ft. I was taking a step or 2 every 3 seconds. I had to call a triage meeting. I really wanted to get off the ID before warming started, and I knew at this pace it wasnít going to happen. Options were to turn around at a certain point, or split into 2 teams. I was up for either but I wasnít up for staying together and reaching the summit regardless of how long it took. After some discussion Dereck and I roped up and headed toward the summit. The snow felt edge-able enough to splitboard down most of the mountain, so those stayed on our backs.
  • Above the top of the DC things got steeper and pretty wind-loaded. The climbing was sustained and direct, which meant we gained altitude really quickly. Dereck and I kept a strong clip and eventually linked up with the party of Ukrainian climbers who did the ledges. There was one other party of 2 and a solo climber who did the ledges. Later I learned the ledges were in pretty good shape. A bit icy, but manageable with steps from the party the previous night when the snow was softer.
  • Dereck and I were first to the crater rim. The wind was pretty fierce from 12.5k to the summit. My fingers and toes couldíve definitely been warmer, but I knew weíd hit the top, make a 180, then head back down as the sun came up.
  • We transitioned at the crater rim, then decided to try roped split-boarding as far as we felt comfortable. I took a crevasse fall last winter on the ID that made me think twice about not being roped on a glacier with greater uncertainty in crevasse locations. The wind loading from 13k upward really made it hard to know if there were hidden cracks. On the way up my axe would sail through that wind loaded stuff making it feel like I just found a gaper. Maybe sometimes I had, who knows. Anyway, neither of us were comfortable rolling the dice.
  • Surprisingly riding roped wasnít too bad. Before this I actually said Iíd never ride roped because it sounded uncomfortable. But it seemed like it would give us a good balance of speed and protection. We kept an edge on the steeper wind-loaded/icy-ish stuff all the way to about 13k from the crater rim. It wasnít fun, but it wasnít awful.
  • At the first awkward crevasse crossing we switched back to crampons. We knew thereíd now be several crevasse crossings including a large one, so we just kept booting it down for efficiency.
  • I tried to film me jumping the 4ft gaper at 11.5k ft, but something went wrong with my iphone. It was definitely one of the jumps you thought about a little before doing it. The snow was still icy-ish at this point, but right about 11.5k ft. is when we really felt the sun. This is the worst part of the route as itís pretty broken up and you get really close to Gib rock, which likes to huck massive boulders down onto innocent climbers.
  • At the top of Cadaver gap (11k ft) we put our boards back on, shed some layers andóthanks to early season conditionsówe could actually board all the way to Muir (Cathedral Gap is completely snow covered). We waited at the top of the Cathedral gap for a bit though. The wind and the night had iced it up. It was still edge-able, but definitely not a spot you'd want to fall on given how hard it had become. We were hoping to see Alin/Piotr come down, but it didn't look like it was happening any time soon. 30-40 minutes later we headed down the gap, making that familiar edge-scraping ice sound the whole way down before shooting across the Cowlitz to Muir.
  • The 2-person party we passed on the way up was at Muir, having turned around at some point. They had been up at Muir for 3 nights. He was carrying a large knife in a holster on his waist. His partner was this Asian guy who didnít talk much. They had what looked like a 10.2mm 60m rope still in packaging the night before. I was taking a piss out toward the Cowlitz and he came up beside me to talk to me. I later heard him yelling a swearing outside the shelter at something Ė his partner again? Anyway, Iím sure they meant well but seemed sketchy.
  • Dereck and I cruised down from Muir after Alin/Piotr returned. They took an hour nap. I couldnít stick around because I kept dreaming about my dry socks in the car. Snow was firm until it plushed up perfectly around 7.5-8k ft. A thinner whiteout from the low clouds we saw earlier was in effect from 7-9k ft. It cast some really flat light that made depth perception almost non-existent. The snow got heavy at the top of Pan Face, and just kept getting heavier until the parking lot. We climbed up that little hill you skirt at the start of the climb, passing some Mountaineers doing self-arrest practice on the steep opposite side. We then headed down the other side, back to the parking lot. My nose caught in the heavy stuff and I did an aerial cartwheel into the mush.
  • After a nap in the car and a BBQ Pork Sandwhich at the visitor center, we headed home. Heads up, 1 can of Rainier cost $5.75 at the visitor center.


Nice and cold (phone pic).


Dereck, Alin, and a member of another party about to leave Muir between 1-2am.


Taking shelter. Dereck on the crater rim at sunrise.


Crater rim, looking east around 630am.


Not a bad way to start the morning.


Blurry summit selfie of me and Dereck.


The 14k ft stare.


Ukrainian party member after coming up the ledges.


Ukrainian party members on the crater rim.


Getting ready to push off the crater rim back down to calmer winds and drier socks.






Near the top of the DC (12k ft), trying to get down the Ingraham before it gets warm.


Looking at the DC and Little Tahoma from the Ingraham (phone pic).


Gibraltar Rock from the Ingraham. The crack on the bottom left is maybe a 4ft. gap? There's probably another place to cross, but jumping it was fun (phone pic).


I went left like an idiot here and put another hole next to the one you see bottom-center. Thankfully and didn't fully punch through. Go right (phone pic).


The top of Cadaver gap. Higher-objective danger zone starts here up until you clear the seracs on the Ingraham. A serac collapsed just behind us here at around 3am (phone pic).


Cadaver Gap, sans massive crevasse you see there in the summer (phone pic).


Dereck and I switching back to snowboarding on the Ingraham Flats around 11k. The climbing route goes up to the left, then cuts back right toward the top of the DC.




Dereck and I wait a bit at the top of Cathedral gap, which was pretty icy. Low clouds and high winds have moved in around 9k ft. below (phone pic).


Staring down at Muir. Scraped my way down the gap then cruised across the Cowlitz (phone pic).


Most unbelievable thing about the trip. Paradise Visitor Center (phone pic).


Our tracks up.







Luke
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« Last Edit: 04/06/16, 03:05 PM by lukehumphrey » Logged
Patarero
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Re: April 1-2, 2016 - Rainier - Ingraham Direct
« Reply #1 on: 04/03/16, 08:22 PM »

Nice! Thanks for the TR.
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30knotwind
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Re: April 1-2, 2016 - Rainier - Ingraham Direct
« Reply #2 on: 04/03/16, 09:46 PM »

thx for posting!!
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thatcherk1
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Re: April 1-2, 2016 - Rainier - Ingraham Direct
« Reply #3 on: 04/04/16, 09:15 AM »

Good TR. It was nice meeting you up there. We were the party of 2 on the ledges. Route was in great shape. I was pretty jealous when you passed us on snowboards near the rim. Wish I had hauled up the skis. The Nisqually Glacier above camp comfort was way less wind loaded than the upper ingraham. It was a lot steeper though up to 55 degrees at the bergschrund. Descending that way wouldn't have allowed you to drop back onto the ID.

I was wondering what happened to those inexperienced guys. I convinced them not to do the ledges and encouraged them to rethink their plan of climbing all together. As it turns out the Bowie knife guy took off without the other kid leaving him to stumble down the snowfield alone. All the uphill skiers were saying he looked drunk and probably wouldn't make it down on his own. So I radioed the park dispatch and some Rangers were already near him.some other skiers helped him out too. At the parking lot I ran into his friend and he was in a sour mood, said they ran out of food the day before and claimed they made the summit.
In summer I expect some of this nonsense up there, but not in early spring.

The snowfield was surprisingly not terrible to ski, at least the middle portion of it.

I'll probably post some pics and a TR later today. Including video of the solo climber (Dan) jumping that crevasse.
« Last Edit: 04/04/16, 09:45 AM by thatcherk1 » Logged
rover
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Re: April 1-2, 2016 - Rainier - Ingraham Direct
« Reply #4 on: 04/04/16, 10:50 AM »

Great TR and nice photos! Glad to be up there with you guys as well! I was also with the Gib Ledges party of two (I'm the one putting crampons on in the first pic), and I'll echo Thatcher's comments about the route being in great shape and also wishing I had my skis for most of the descent. Skiing from Muir was a nice break from walking, even with heavy overnight packs and pretty sloppy snow down low.

That party of inexperienced guys was unbelievable - I'm actually legitimately surprised they made it as far as they did, and hope that the kid on the snowfield made it down ok.
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lukehumphrey
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Re: April 1-2, 2016 - Rainier - Ingraham Direct
« Reply #5 on: 04/04/16, 11:01 AM »

Nice meeting you guys as well, sorry I didn't get your names.

Funny about that party, I guess that doesn't surprise me. Once I saw that big knife on his waist I couldn't help but stay more alert around him...you know mainly to be first in line for the Muir fox meat when he skinned and cooked it Smiley.

Would love to see your pics/vid of the crevasse jump!
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climb4hope
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Re: April 1-2, 2016 - Mt. Rainier - Ingraham Direct
« Reply #6 on: 04/07/16, 08:46 AM »

Thanks for the great report and photos. I was with the Ukrainian party that you met below the rim. And thanks a lot for the beer. It was so awesome to have a can of beer at Muir. Next time if we meet I hope to have something to share in exchange! Smiley

Attached another picture with you guys at the rim.


* 11224086_1080659935310105_2512390286367159428_o.jpg (131.9 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 1078 times.)
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lukehumphrey
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Re: April 1-2, 2016 - Mt. Rainier - Ingraham Direct
« Reply #7 on: 04/07/16, 06:28 PM »

Nice meeting you guys up there. Thanks for the pic!
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