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| | |-+  April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
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Author Topic: April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger  (Read 5326 times)
moxie802
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April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
« on: 04/05/16, 12:28 AM »

I'm not sure if the amazing weather window or three resident doctors having a whole weekend off at the same time was more auspicious for a Rainier ski descent, but who are we to question? Mike, Rick, Cim and I pushed off at high noon from Paradise on Saturday under sunny skies with high stoke and fresh legs.

The climb to camp was easy peasy. We followed the familiar route to Glacier Vista, skied a few turns to the base of Nisqually Chute, and then zipped across and below a serac-shedding ice wall on the western edge of the lower Nisqually. The ridge in the middle of the Wilson Glacier was straightforward pleasant skinning, with a few little crevasses to keep things interesting. We chased the clouds all the way up, our objective hidden for the better part of the day. I'd never been up there, but Mike had done the Kautz and said it seemed like things were pretty well filled in this year.

We camped at the edge of the upper Wilson Glacier, just west and below the base of the Finger and Thumb, at around 9200 feet, behind a neat rock outcrop. We had spectacular views of everything south of Rainier, as well as the Finger, once the mist lifted! We watched a pretty darn great sunset, enjoyed hot food, melted water until twilight, and then finally went to bed. Howling winds had kicked up, which kept me wondering if we'd even be able to get out of camp the next day; but luckily I avoided the HAFE going on in the guys' tent by bivvying out, so managed a few hours of rest.

Mercifully, at 4 am, the winds had died to a reasonable level. We left camp in crampons with skis on our backs, and made quick time over to the base of the Finger. Snow was firm but made for easy frontpointing/sidestepping, which we did until 11,400 ft, when the sun came up and we roped up for the upper Nisqually.

This was the route finding crux. We stuck to climber's left until about a third of the way up, then followed some old ski tracks around under a big serac tower, hiked up the right-center of the glacier until we hit the bergshrund at ~12700 ft. We traversed back left under this, over a spooky, soon-to-collapse snow bridge, and then punched the last 1,700 to the crater rim. Skies were sunny but it got progressively windier until the crater rim, which was knock-you-over gusts. We cramponed almost all of this - might have been skinnable with ski crampons, but most of the snow was wind affected and didn't seem to want to soften ... at all. 

... which made the first 3000 feet down a real chatter fest. I silently cursed my carbon touring skis (but oh, they are so light ...) as we side-slipped and jump-turned frozen sastrugi above big crevasses. Finally we were at the top of the Finger around 1 pm - later than we'd planned, but our off-the-couch "training" approach coupled with most of us consuming primarily shotblox for nutrition all day dictated a pokey pace.  We had been worried about the timing all day, but turns out we nailed it - perfect corn for the next 5000 feet! We whooped it up making epic spring turns in the Finger.

A large wet slide had run down from the Kautz ice cliff onto the top of the Wilson while we'd been gone, and there was plenty of loose-wet slide action on the edges of Van Trump, as expected. We resisted the urge to nap back at Camp Awesome, and punched it down, down, down with nice, heavy packs. As expected, the lower Nisqually to the bridge was deep, fluffy mashed potatoes, hard on the legs after 5K up and 8K down. The left side of the river has a better exit than the right. We mowed on snacks and beer and made fun of eachothers' sunburns as we waited for traffic to clear on the Paradise-Longmire road. Pretty jazzed to have the ski gods smile on us for this one!

All in all, a fantastic route. I suggest sharpening those edges before you head up ... but highly, highly recommended!!!

~Anna
« Last Edit: 04/05/16, 01:01 PM by moxie802 » Logged
skier8484
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Re: April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
« Reply #1 on: 04/05/16, 07:52 AM »

Awesome write up - thanks for sharing!
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moxie802
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Re: April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
« Reply #2 on: 04/05/16, 01:00 PM »

Some pics to go with:

Coming up the Wilson Glacier:


Skin Ripping:


Camp Awesome:


Sunrise from 11,500 ft:


Skiing the Nisqually:


Skiing the Finger:
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ron j
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Re: April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
« Reply #3 on: 04/06/16, 08:06 PM »

Nice pics & report.
Thanks for sharing.
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"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
Midwest2Northwest
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Re: April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
« Reply #4 on: 04/11/16, 11:14 AM »

Great TR, thanks for sharing!
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Good2Go
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Posts: 261


Re: April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
« Reply #5 on: 04/12/16, 04:44 PM »

I can't see the pics for some reason (on a Mac).  Sounds like you hit it perfectly, which is oh so rare.
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hedonaut
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Re: April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
« Reply #6 on: 04/12/16, 05:05 PM »

HAFE, yikes--that stuff can be fatal Wink .

Yes, the pic links need work, but opening in a new window yielded results--looks like a great day!
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kamtron
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Re: April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
« Reply #7 on: 04/12/16, 11:04 PM »

Congrats on a great ski. Are you another VT transplant, moxie802?
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moxie802
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Re: April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
« Reply #8 on: 04/15/16, 04:08 PM »

Indeed, Kamtron - perfected my survival skiing for 25 years in northern New England.

Here's a (very similar) trip report with embedded pics (!) .. sorry for my tech spaz going on above. http://bcinne.blogspot.com/
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wcurchin
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Re: April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
« Reply #9 on: 04/16/16, 02:32 PM »

Yay to VT transplants!
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Antonio Banderass
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Re: April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
« Reply #10 on: 04/19/16, 07:39 AM »

Great TR and congrats on this amazing route.  Carbon skis....so light!
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Frank Sosa
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Re: April 2-3, 2016 - Mt. Rainier, Fuhrer Finger
« Reply #11 on: 04/25/16, 10:16 AM »

Carbon skis have had me GRIPPED in many spots... The carbon converts perform best hanging on the wall at home now.   I feel like it's worth it to haul big/ heavy boards around for the downhill pleasure and confidence.  Especially when you're trying to get rad on a steep line that is far from help.
Nice TR!
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