Thanks everyone for your kind comments.
author=Monika link=topic=7483.msg29846#msg29846 date=1183004791">
Was it windy? Hood was very windy the same morning.
I became windy above 12500 ft, after about 10 AM, with an ever-increasing SW wind that reached 30+ mph by the time I reached the summit crater.
author=gregL link=topic=7483.msg29856#msg29856 date=1183046062">
Congrats, Amar! Glad to hear you recovered so quickly from your weekend "ailment."
Yes, mercifully there were no intestinal problems on this trip.
Here's the much-too-long version of the trip report, with more photos as clickable thumbnails . . .The Backstory
Skiing Rainier in less than a day has been on my agenda for several years now. But skiing the Mountain via Fuhrer Finger has been on my list for even longer, a full decade. Neither had happened yet, due to unfavorable combinations of weather, free time, available partners, and circumstances. In that decade, I had made many fruitless "attempts" to ski the Finger, none of which had even left Seattle, except for one which oddly enough had ended atop another 14er, located 500 miles to the south in a much sunnier clime (see 2004 TR
). During that decade, I was fortunate enough to find great partners for three successful Rainier summit skis via the Emmons-Winthrop route (TRs: 1999
), but the Finger remained elusive to me. In recent years, several of my friends had even skied the Finger in a day, but I was never in shape to join them and pull it off. For some, Rainier in a day is always easy, but not for me. The last time I was fit enough for such a trip was in the summer of 2004, and since then my ongoing struggle against weight had been failing, as I had ballooned from 142 lbs in 2004 to 170 by the end of November 2006. Something had to be done.
An increasingly intensive workout regime starting in December, followed in February by a severe diet, was soon taking off the pounds. But the generally miserable and cloudy weather of spring 2007 conspired against ski mountaineering myself into shape. With the re-opening of Mount Rainier on May 5, I resolved that I would try to fill every clear day with a ski mountaineering trip, even if it was "just Muir" over and over again. The route to Camp Muir had been my very first backcountry ski trip in the summer of 1996, the place where my life had changed forever, and it remains my all-time favorite conditioning trip. The next half-dozen weeks included a half-dozen day trips to Muir (more than I'd ever done in an entire year), mostly midweek and solo. There were also two overnight trips attempting to ski unusual routes on both Mount Baker and Mount Adams with Dave Coleman (unfortunately, both routes were "done for the year" when we got there). Despite my inability to complete any trips except Muir (and despite the continuing miserable spring weather), my conditioning was improving rapidly. By mid-June, I was finally ready: having lost 25 lbs in 28 weeks, at 145 lbs it was my lightest since October 2004. I could easily ski 1.5 Muir trips (7000+ ft) in a day with little fatigue, so I knew I could summit Rainier in a day. In addition, I had finally applied for and received a Rainier solo permit, so my trip could go on with or without available partners. However, my chosen route was not so ready anymore: Fuhrer Finger had looked increasingly dirty, rock-strewn, and bare in recent days, and it too seemed to be "done for the year". No matter, I'd just try to ski the aptly-named Disappointment Cleaver in a day instead and try the Finger next year. . .The First Attempt, June 19-20, 2007
: (maybe I should have written a separate TR about this one last week)
A decent weather window presented itself on Tuesday-Wednesday, June 19-20, with a forecast for clear skies and 11000 ft freezing levels, although the winds at 14000 ft were forecast to be 45+ mph. Not ideal, but good enough I thought, given the bleak spring thus far. When I mentioned my (solo) ski plan to Dave Pinegar, he was eager to join me and I happily accepted. Especially as I was reconsidering the wisdom of solo climbing in light of recent reports on Mike Gauthier's blog
of interesting crevasse crossings on the DC route above the Cleaver, with teams placing pickets and belaying.
The Park Service climbing registration requirement places an awkward constraint on (legal) one-day ski attempts of Rainier. The last registration desk closes at 7 PM (Jackson VC), and assuming that the ideal time to ski off the summit is after noon, that leaves at least 17 hours to fill. A fit skier or climber should be able to easily summit from Paradise (5400 ft) via DC in 9-10 hours, so 7-8 hours need to be killed someplace prior to skiing down. The three choices for places to kill time seem to be at Paradise (after registering), Camp Muir (10080 ft, halfway through, with a nice hut), or the summit crater (14160 ft, possibly very cold and windy). We decided to nap at Muir, which would also give us a chance to melt snow to replenish our water supply. We would bring a compact Jetboil stove, but no sleeping bags or pads.
Following a taxing 3hr45min drive from Seattle in horrible traffic (on a Tuesday?), we picked up our permit at Paradise (an interesting story which I shouldn't repeat online) and got a very late start, skinning up from the parking lot at 8:30 PM. Snow conditions were perfect, a crust of refrozen corn which provided both excellent grip and effortless progress, far better than wallowing up in mush a few hours earlier. I skinned the whole way to Muir, stubbornly crossing 3 lengthy bare patches (including numerous stone steps) on the summer trail near Pan Point, while Dave wisely removed his skis for all that. The crescent moon provided insufficient light, so we skinned the Snowfield by headlamp. Despite ever-increasing winds which eventually reached a sustained 30+ mph above 9000 ft, we reached the Muir hut at 12:30 AM and silently crept inside. The rest of the camp, including RMI guided parties and teams camped outside, was stirring into action for their headlamp ascent, but the hut contained about 15 sleepers with no apparent desire to arise or climb. Little did I surmise that I would soon share such feelings. Luckily the upper and lower bunks nearest the door were empty, so Dave and I settled in for a nap, planning to wake at 4 AM and start climbing around 5.
Dave skinning up at sunset.
Unexpectedly, the night was miserable and cold, probably my worst ever in the mountains. I figured that wearing a hooded down jacket with my legs inside the pack would be warm enough. But I was freezing and shivering the whole time, and even though I had just put on dry socks, I was repeatedly hallucinating that my feet were soaking wet in ice water. The windows of the stone hut were shaking from the strong gusts hitting it (a later check of telemetry showed that winds were 45-50 mph at Muir), and my desire to go outside and battle the wind to the summit slowly ebbed away. Although Dave was ever-eager to get going, I procrastinated and finally roused myself around 6 AM, when I could hear the wind easing a bit. Melting 6 liters of snow water took over an hour, and we finally roped up and headed out at 8 AM, with skis on pack, crampons on feet, and ice axe in hand. The warm sun was welcome, but the bitter wind continued to zap my strength and desire. I was really done before we even started. A cumulative total of less than 1 hour of fitful sleep did not help matters.
We reached Ingraham Flats at 11000 ft in a long, slow 75 minutes and looked up at the Ingraham Glacier and the DC route. The nose of the Cleaver looked rough and rock-strewn. The summit dome looked brutally cold to me, with a powerful wind blasting off streamers of snow. I stopped by the Alpine Ascents tent to chat with a guide, who thought the winds were "not too bad" up there, but a passing rope team descending from the top confirmed that winds were 50-60 mph. I did not share Dave's certainty that we could summit despite the winds, and I decided to pull the plug.
Climbing across the Cowlitz Glacier. [/td">
The Ingraham Glacier and Disappointment Cleaver.[/td">[/tr">[/table">
We skied down at 10:30 AM. The east-facing, wind-sheltered portion of the Ingraham Glacier near the Flats was already perfect corn, while the crossing of the Cowlitz was starting to soften on its easterly aspects nearest Camp Muir. The south-facing Muir Snowfield was firm below the Camp, but softened into excellent corn below 9500 ft. We decided to head for the Nisqually Chute, since it was Dave's first time ever skiing to Muir and he wanted to ski the prime descent line. The Chute was OK, but already too soft by 11:30 AM and we set off large surface sluffs. Luckily these were only a few inches deep, but we watched their slow-motion flow for several minutes down the entire 1500+ vertical ft of the Chute. A long traverse and quick skin back up to Glacier Vista set us up for the final schuss down the boot path to Paradise by 12:30 PM. It was an anticlimactic and disappointing end to the trip, and in the parking lot the last day of spring felt like a hot summer day with the ski season fading away.
Dave skiing below Muir near the Nisqually Glacier. [/td">
The Nisqually Glacier (center) and Nisqually Chute (right).[/td">[/tr">[/table">NOTE: Exceeded maximum allowed length of 20000 characters, so split and continued in next post . . .