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MRNP - "Kautz Both Ways"

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by timgibson11 on 6/27/22 11:31am

A few years ago I started a tradition of skiing a new line on Rainier each year. It's a fun challenge that was put at risk this year due to a lack of spring weather windows followed by paragliding commitments and an impending trip to Europe. Everything finally came together on Sunday when Lucas Cairns, Tom Skoog and I made a full descent of the Kautz, including the headwall (not to be confused with the Kautz Glacier Headwall route, which has only been skied a couple of times).

In an effort to beat the heat, we left Paradise around 12:30 AM and took 10 hours to summit. This worked great for fast climbing conditions, but we then found ourselves waiting 2.5 hours on the summit for the snow to soften. By 1PM we were too cold to wait any more. Fortunately things were starting to look good and we dropped into the headwall from Point Success. I took the skier's right side of the headwall while Lucas & Tom stayed skier's left. Both options worked out, and we joined back up to ski the lower headwall down to the ice chute. Both the headwall and the ice chute generally skied well, with a few patches of ice here and there that were pretty easy to manage. I would not want to ski this line in firmer or icy conditions. We made the traverse at the bottom of the ice chute and then it was time for a party lap on the Turtle. Conditions stayed good down the Wilson Glacier and started to deteriorate by the time we hit the Lower Nisqually, aka Wet Slide City. The lower part of the route crosses many small open crevasses that felt more scary on the way up in the dark than on the way down in broad daylight with a full head of steam.

6 lines down, 18 to go. At this rate I'll be finished when I'm 60. What are the odds that Nisqually Ice Cliff will be skiable in 2040??

On a side note, I picked up empty freeze-dried food pouches in 3 different spots below the campsites that are typically used for the Kautz, Fuhrer Finger etc. If you were camping up there this weekend, please learn to take care of your campsite. Or better yet, just go c2c. That way you'll avoid the temptation to leave your trash on the mountain. 



Skiing the big planar face off point Success is pretty damn fun, eh?

I find exiting out the lower Nisqually is kind of f***ed up late in the day. Going down to Comet Falls is a lot less scary, recommend.

@tim Nicely done! I love this tradition. Yesterday was unbelievable up there. 


@kamtron I totally agree with you, but not right now. We exited Comet Falls yesterday and the trail is in rough shape. Eg the bridge over Van Trump is washed out and the water is flowing as fast as I've ever seen it. Lots of landslide damage and places to punch through snow as well. 

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2022-06-27 18:31:23