MOUNT RAINIER CURRENT CLIMBING CONDITIONS–INGRAHAM DIRECT/MUIR ROUTE REPORT AS OF THURSDAY MAY 17TH.
Down from the first summit of the RMI summit season on Rainier–and what a summit it was! Things began a bit rough and damp (as you’ll see if you check out the complete photos of our ascent at the Adventure Spirit Rock + Ice + Alpine Experiences Facebook site), but the tenacious team pulled through. Tuesday began a clearing and warming trend that has continued through today and is predicted to end this weekend. We had to break trail in snow up to knee deep on the way up to Camp Muir but by now I’m sure there is a well packed trail. Note that the winter route up Panorama Point is currently in use, due to the potential for slides on the steep summer route face. The upper mountain was also still in winter mode. The current climbing route goes up the Ingraham Direct headwall. Surprisingly–given the heavy snow season and recent snowfall–there are significant crevasses in the 11,500′ zone. It is safe to say that the specifics of the route in that zone will be changing daily with the current temps and it likely won’t be long until the Ingraham Direct is no longer passable (so out to Disappointment Cleaver–which looks interesting as well). Also, keep in mind there was a significant interface layer in the snowpack at about 20″ down. I didn’t investigate specifics of it, but it was quite a firm layer and late-day solar could cause concern. From the top of the Cleaver things trend north for a bit, encountering more crevassing in the 13,500′-ish zone, then clearing up toward the top.
Cooling weather on Sunday will likely lessen slide concerns but will bring with it a whole new set of weather and navigational challenges. Rainier has still not yet welcomed the spring/summer season, so if you’re headed up, be prepared for whatever kind of welcome it may offer you!