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MRNP - Gettin' Gibby Wit It (Gib Ledges + Gib Chute)

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by timgibson11 on 5/16/24 3:23pm

(Apologies for the 90s cultural reference, I couldn't help myself) 

One of the things I look forward to each spring is skiing a new (to me) line on Rainier. I've lost count of the hours spent looking at Lowell Skoog's awesome website and thinking about what sort of conditions would be needed to access and ski some of the more "out there" lines. Lucas and I went up on Saturday with a plan to tackle one of those, but conditions pushed us to a more conservative option. By yesterday the snowpack had improved and Ari and I were able to ski the Gib Chute, my 8th route on Rainier. The Gib Ledges/Gib Chute combo had been on my radar for years, so I was happy to finally get it done. 
As we passed Camp Muir heading toward Gibraltar Rock a gray fox appeared. It was probably just the camp fox, but still felt like a good omen. Gib Ledges is nearly done for the season, with a short section of exposed climbing on loose rock/water ice required to reach the upper ledge and connect with the top of Gib Chute. Aside from that, this was a really enjoyable (and quick) way to reach the summit. After weaving through a few crevasses we joined up with the top of the ID/DC route where we ran into Kyle and Nick, a nice surprise. Aside from them it was very quiet on the mountain. 
High winds made the summit crater unpleasant, so we jumped in a steam vent for a quick transition and began skiing. Above 13,000' the snow was icy and wind sculpted, I felt like Lady Chatterley's lover. But as we approached Gib Chute the snow softened and things improved considerably. Ari and I talked about how certain features on Rainier look small from afar yet feel huge when you're in them. The Gib Chute is definitely one of those - a couple thousand feet of fun and engaging skiing next to the biggest ice cliff I've ever seen. The chute itself is still in good shape - the choke is steep but not too chokey, rock debris is minimal, and there's a wide passage through the schrund with no air required. Coverage on the glacier below is still good. 
Things were getting a bit sloppy below 8000', but we wanted this story to have a Nisquallywood ending, so we made the small detour to score some bonus turns on the Nisqually Chute, then out to Paradise. 8 down, 16 to go! Full descent footage in HD at youtube.com/watch?v=ivenFWUMfbI

Another year, another line! It takes a pretty big mountain to make terrain like the Gib Chute look small.

@voldemort it certainly does!

That's gotta be my favorite climbing route up Tahoma, what a cool position. Skiing down, the best snow top to bottom I've ever had on the big volcano. Rock scramble looks a bit spicy right now

Looks awesome! Do you have a GPX you'd be willing to share?

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2024-05-16 22:23:54