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| | |-+  July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
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Author Topic: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face  (Read 8300 times)
johnnyutah
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July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« on: 07/25/16, 02:50 PM »

After the usual delayed start due to the permitting process and the obligatory parking lot packing cluster-fuck my friend Crest and I were finally on the trail to Spray Park by 1135am, anxious to see how the Mowich Face looked from closer. When we got up to park-level and got a sharp view we knew we were in for a treat. All the adverse weather over the past few weeks, that had delayed our trip to the PNW till now, had done magic at high elevations, leaving coats of white where grey can be the norm.

Packs were heavy, as they usually are on such ski missions and travel was slow as we crept up to and down from 8200' on Ptarmigan Ridge into building clouds in the North Mowich valley. After a bit of map deliberation with intermittent windows of visibility we decided to stay low on the glacier and cross it just above Needle Rock. By 8pm we settled on a camp at 8100' on the Edmunds Glacier divide. The lower glacier was starting to break up and deserves respect but is entirely passable crossing it low, higher it looks to currently be a dangerous place to be with the face shedding and holes all over. Ptarmigan Ridge looks to be in very poor condition as well as the ice cliffs surrounding it. The Central Mowich and Edmunds Headwall however are a different story.

The next morning we had plans to get high on the face if the weather cooperated, which ultimately it didn't, it rained and even snowed some on our camp, leaving us tent bound until 1130am. That afternoon the weather did break up enough to allow us to skin up to shrund level, to check things out, and get a soggy ski back to camp. Despite the change in plan what we found was encouraging though, a good route up smooth snow all the way to the Central Mowich and the Edmunds Headwall routes. Most importantly, we found that passage was possible onto either route we wanted to pick, which is saying something as the meat of each shrund was some 40' high and 20' wide. Both shrunds could be passed climbers left. The sun came out above 9000' from about 2pm through the rest of the day and fortunately for us cooked down much of the bit of new snow new to the face.

We woke the next morning to a still and clear sky at 3am with a thick stable cloud layer lower down and as far as we could see. By 415am we were moving. Skinning was easy, following our previous track up to the shrund from the previous day. From there we dawned crampons, skirted left over a short section of rock and dirt and began a long and steady mountaineers-step up the Central Mowich and what we measured at 42 average on the lower 2/3 and 47 degrees on the upper 1/3. High on the face there is a windlip/choke where we traversed right for a few feet over a bit of firmer snow but overall it was pretty easy climbing not really requiring any front-pointing. A couple inches of new, wind-pressed snow capped the existing snow surface of the upper headwall which was a mix of cold snow and thin sun-crusts beneath. I was really impressed with the conditions we were finding as it seemed more like May than July high on the face. Nearly the entire upper headwall had a lack of ice actually, it was impressive to say the least.

By 930am we were at the top of the face at 13400' where we then skinned up and skied to the Liberty Cap and down and up to the Colombia Crest which put us on the summit by 1145am. After enjoying the view and catching up from the affects of the altitude we got the sticks on our feet and began to retrace our steps. Skiing along the crest of the Liberty Cap Glacier back down to the top of the face was a treat in itself as we were the only ones on that part of the mountain. With a thick cloud layer still hanging in the valleys far below we poked our way down the ridge soaking up the tremendous views off of each side of it.

By 210pm we were skiing off the top of the face, the incredible fall-line that is the Mowich. The wind pressed snow high was a little grabby on the edges and required some attention, particularly with a touch of weary legs syndrome from the ascent. Back at the wind-lip/choke we grabbed out an axe each for a little insurance and traversed across the short, slightly steeper and firmer section with no issue. This section was actually far easier to manage than we imagined it would be. We were prepared with a works of gear for this very spot and used very little of it. The rest of the way down the face and to camp at 8100' was perfect, smooth corn snow, the kind that gives every day men feelings of greatness.

If there is a price to pay for such a great ski descent it is easy filled by the 1000' rock scramble climb back out of the Mowich valley to Ptarmigan Ridge with an overnight pack. It was heinous, bad and poor all at the same time. It was heinous after a long day on the mountain and would have been heinous had we been doing it with fresh legs which truly were not. All said we took our time and got to the ridge by 7pm and Mowich lake by 950pm as night fell. The skiing in Spray Park was sun cupped but soft and skiable. The hike out was the most seemingly endless 3 miles of trail one can expect after 18hrs on a big peak with lots of weight (for the latter half).

Slow and HEAVY. Great skiing is what matters most, right? I think so.


* MowichFace160721.jpg (205.9 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1662 times.)

* CentralMowich160723down.jpg (217.05 KB, 800x601 - viewed 1677 times.)
« Last Edit: 07/25/16, 03:58 PM by johnnyutah » Logged
runningclouds
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #1 on: 07/25/16, 03:40 PM »

Inspiring descent, and well timed. Good luck with your next trip!
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skier8484
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #2 on: 07/25/16, 06:31 PM »

Great write up - way to grab a king line in killer conditions!
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johnnyutah
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #3 on: 07/25/16, 10:39 PM »

Thanks all. Probably a couple weeks left, go get it!
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Snomad
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #4 on: 07/25/16, 11:44 PM »

Impressive work guys, thanks for the TR!
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kamtron
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #5 on: 07/26/16, 09:19 AM »

Sicky-sick sick.
At least the 2nd central Mowich descent of the year---a good season!
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hedonaut
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #6 on: 07/26/16, 10:21 AM »

V. nice write-up, and sweet send!  Completely empathize with that leg- and will-sucking grind up the "talus" to gain the ridge after a long day...

Could you please share another pic or two of that side of the mountain, from other vantages?  E.g., in addition to the nice frosty-white one from lower Ptarmigan Ridge, do you have any from higher up, or from the N Mowich Gl (presumably your camp)?
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skykilo
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #7 on: 07/26/16, 02:43 PM »

Wow, awesome, sounds like really great conditions.
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johnnyutah
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #8 on: 07/26/16, 05:03 PM »

a few more shots for those interested.


* CentralMowichonly.jpg (245.73 KB, 600x800 - viewed 1392 times.)

* mowichvalley.jpg (200.85 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1398 times.)
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johnnyutah
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #9 on: 07/26/16, 05:06 PM »

more


* break.jpg (181.26 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1397 times.)

* at_cm_choke.jpg (247.84 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1396 times.)
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johnnyutah
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #10 on: 07/26/16, 05:07 PM »

more


* high_on__mowich_face.jpg (236.47 KB, 800x601 - viewed 1387 times.)

* ice_shralp.jpg (183.66 KB, 800x601 - viewed 1394 times.)
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johnnyutah
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #11 on: 07/26/16, 05:09 PM »

more


* mowich_choke_going_down.jpg (199.65 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1368 times.)

* mowich_alpen.jpg (249.99 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1360 times.)
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johnnyutah
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #12 on: 07/26/16, 05:11 PM »

last ones


* IMG_8886.jpg (212.24 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1364 times.)

* clouds_below_camp.jpg (240.53 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1367 times.)
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johnnyutah
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #13 on: 07/26/16, 05:14 PM »

Sicky-sick sick.
At least the 2nd central Mowich descent of the year---a good season!
We could make out three old tracks on the glacier below the face and thought they must have been a week old or so. ?? Is this the group you know of? did they ski the mowich or edmunds or both or just low?
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kamtron
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #14 on: 07/27/16, 06:51 AM »

No, it was closer to a month ago. They skied central Mowich, and there was also a group skiing Edmunds around the same time (RMI guides on that one).

I'd sure like to visit that side some time!
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runningclouds
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #15 on: 07/29/16, 10:56 AM »

johnyutah can you post a photo with your route drawn on it?
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johnnyutah
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #16 on: 07/29/16, 01:52 PM »

johnyutah can you post a photo with your route drawn on it?


* cmroute160723.jpg (212.5 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1001 times.)
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allenat@ylor
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #17 on: 07/31/16, 09:06 AM »

Nice Work!
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runningclouds
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #18 on: 08/01/16, 10:34 AM »

Thanks!
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cascademystic
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #19 on: 08/03/16, 08:52 AM »

a true visionquest
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rlsg
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Re: July 21-23, 2016, Mt. Rainier, Central Mowich Face
« Reply #20 on: 08/03/16, 11:21 AM »

Way to go and TELE NO LESS! (I do care..).

Great write-up and pics too...thanks

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