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Tahoma Infiniski

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by LilB907 on 6/22/23 2:20pm

I’ve wanted to do a continuous push, double summit ski of Tahoma for a few years. Something like the Infinity Loop but entirely glaciated terrain. I even had “Skinfinity Loop” written on my whiteboard in 2021 but didn’t give it a full attempt before moving away from the Northwest.

Last winter I found Allen Taylor’s description for “Infiniski”. His route consists of a short loop followed by a long loop. The short loop starts at Paradise, climbs past Muir Camp across to Camp Schurman, then up the Emmons route and down a South Side route [Fuhrer Finger or Success or Kautz]. The long loop goes clockwise around the mountain back to camp Schurman, then back up the Emmons and down the South side [Kautz or Fuhrer Finger] home to Paradise. Allen tried the route in 2021 and even has a .gpx to download.

I had a work trip to Oregon in mid-May, and somehow a weather window lined up for Memorial Day weekend. I bought enough Little Debbies for 36 hours.

Short Loop: The first leg up to camp Schurman went great. I stopped to make hot Naturade Weight Gain and bury some food and a stove in the rocks. I dropped in on the South side around 1pm and found slightly overbaked corn. Partway down I realized I was skiing the Kautz instead of the Finger and was glad to have two axes to downclimb the ice cliff.

Long Loop: I hit the lower Success Glacier in the heat of the day, and my boots filled with slush. The climb up to Puyallup Cleaver was brutally hot. Sunset Ridge brought a positive shift in mood. The glaciers turned from small and nasty to broad with lots of options. I began to recognize landmarks on the north side of the mountain. At Ptarmigan Ridge, I realized I was on pace to ski the South side in full ice conditions around sunrise. I slowed down and stopped to wring out my socks. At Camp Schurman around midnight, I curled up in the lee of the helipad. I made a hot water bottle and watched a guided party come into camp. Around 3am, I was violently shivering and started up again. At the summit, I slept in the sun for 30 minutes and dropped around 9am. This was still too early, but the snow had softened where it needed to. There was a beaten-in snake run through the upper Nisqually and real moguls at the top of the Finger. I skied back into Paradise 30 hours and 10 minutes after starting (trackline).

There’s plenty of room to do this faster and/or in better style (with a sleeping bag). Perhaps starting from White River and skiing both south side routes in the same day is possible. I’m thankful for Allen’s contributions to the idea and left with a deep appreciation of the mountain.


This is the content I crave! Nicely done LilB

How many Little Debbies per hour would you recommend for this type of mission?

I've been dreaming of doing this - but over days, not hours. Strong work!

timgibson11- About 1.5 Little Debbies per hour will get you around the mountain or at least to prediabetes. 

So awesome!!! The accidental Kautz ski is a nice touch haha

This is awesome, nice work!!

LilB forgot to mention that their "work trip" was their PhD defense! Congrats Dr.! What a nice way to cap off the years in the PNW.

Congrats, a number of TAYers have picked up their doctorate in ski alpinism in parallel to more academic pursuitss

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2023-06-22 21:20:07