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Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby rijaca » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:31 am

climbing_rob wrote:
rijaca wrote: I can assure you, that you're not going to avoid crowds by doing the Emmons/Winthrop glacier route.
Hmmmm.... I've climbed the Emmons route 5 times, never seen much of a crowd. I guess it depends on what you call a "crowd" ? All 5 summit days on my trips involved either owning the summit, or maybe one other group there. We have usually camped at Emmons flats, which is generally less "crowded" than Schurman, though Shurman maybe has a couple dozen folks camping at a given time. All of my trips have been the second week of July. Perfect conditions then, IMHO, a nice balance of still-fine snow and near-perfect weather (though of curse, this can always change).

Back to the OP, I wish I would have climbed the DC route once to compare, but alas, I've only done the Emmons. but I sure love that route. A true mountaineering experience.


Just one time up there, second week of July 1993. Perfect weather and snow conditions, and at least 50-75 peeps on the route.
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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby climbing_rob » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:40 am

rijaca wrote:
climbing_rob wrote:
rijaca wrote: I can assure you, that you're not going to avoid crowds by doing the Emmons/Winthrop glacier route.
Hmmmm.... I've climbed the Emmons route 5 times, never seen much of a crowd. I guess it depends on what you call a "crowd" ? All 5 summit days on my trips involved either owning the summit, or maybe one other group there. We have usually camped at Emmons flats, which is generally less "crowded" than Schurman, though Shurman maybe has a couple dozen folks camping at a given time. All of my trips have been the second week of July. Perfect conditions then, IMHO, a nice balance of still-fine snow and near-perfect weather (though of curse, this can always change).

Back to the OP, I wish I would have climbed the DC route once to compare, but alas, I've only done the Emmons. but I sure love that route. A true mountaineering experience.


Just one time up there, second week of July 1993. Perfect weather and snow conditions, and at least 50-75 peeps on the route.
One possible difference in our related experiences: we've always summited either on a Thursday or a Friday. I would venture to guess yours was on a Sunday or Saturday, right? Important point. the WA climbers do indeed flock up to Rainier on the weekend. Avoid weekends, to be sure.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby rijaca » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:44 am

climbing_rob wrote: One possible difference in our related experiences: we've always summited either on a Thursday or a Friday. I would venture to guess yours was on a Sunday or Saturday, right? Important point. the WA climbers do indeed flock up to Rainier on the weekend. Avoid weekends, to be sure.


I had to look up the date, but yes, it was a Sat. Just like CO, the weekends tend to be a bit busier.
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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby nkan02 » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:47 am

Palmyra J wrote:Good questions. My previous climbs are limited to summer climbs of 13ers/14ers in CO, with the exception of one tech/snow summit of Mt Whitney, CA. No glacier or winter/spring experience. My climbing partner has experience in all of the above, with two previous summits of Rainier, but that was many moons ago :wink:

We are scouting/debating guided services as we speak. I am thinking guided due to my limited experience. The better guide services appear to be filling up fast, so now my question to the group experience includes comparisons of guided services.

Alpine Ascents? RMI? International Mountain Guides?

And Muchos Pixels...thanks for the snow/weather/dates Beta. With the sketchy, unpredictable weather we have been seeing internationally, who knows what July 2013 may bring, no?

I would not waste money on the guided service if you are doing the DC route. You will be going behind them (and you can time your departure after them if you wish). As others said, DC route is very straightforward, there is a huge trench in place and there are a lot of people - I would compare it to Longs Peak Keyhole route. Very well established. Yes, there are crevasses but they are either avoidable or there is an obvious track to cross them (even ladders as it was in our case). I would definitely do DC route unguided.

With Emmons route, it is a bit different. By comparison with DC, it felt very remote, empty (there are still groups, but it was just all spread out). It would make sense to go with the guided service if you are completely new. Still, your biggest variable is the weather. We had no luck with the weather on Emmons route (and were snowed in for 3 days at Camp Shurman), but had blue bird days on DC. You can't predict that. July-August seems to have bigger summit windows. We got lucky around Labor day this year (but no luck back in late June). I would go with Emmons, it is just a much more fun route.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby kaiman » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:52 am

Palmyra J wrote:Good questions. My previous climbs are limited to summer climbs of 13ers/14ers in CO, with the exception of one tech/snow summit of Mt Whitney, CA. No glacier or winter/spring experience. My climbing partner has experience in all of the above, with two previous summits of Rainier, but that was many moons ago :wink:

We are scouting/debating guided services as we speak. I am thinking guided due to my limited experience. The better guide services appear to be filling up fast, so now my question to the group experience includes comparisons of guided services.

Alpine Ascents? RMI? International Mountain Guides?


Hi Palmyra J,

It sounds like you have some experience at altitude but somewhat limited snow experience, which is not a problem per say, but here are some things to consider:

I would (and others here probably will as well) highly recommend that you hire a guide or find a third member with glacier experience for your team, as a team of two will have a much harder time performing a rescue if one of you takes a fall. RMI comes highly recommended among people I know who have hired guides for Rainer, and they also offer crevasse rescue classes if you have the time/money/interest.

I would also give some consideration to doing some winter/spring climbs in Colorado this year to get used to snow climbing, wearing crampons, using an ice axe, etc. This would also be a good opportunity to practice self arrest, roped travel, etc. even in limited mountain locations. You might also want to consider doing a warm up climb in the Cascades on the way to Rainer. Many people climb Mount Hood, Mount Adams, or Mount Baker in preparation.

Not to rain on your parade, but I just wanted to put a bug in your ear about these things to help you ensure your climb is safe and successful.

kaiman
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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby SurfNTurf » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:06 am

nkan02 wrote:I would not waste money on the guided service if you are doing the DC route. You will be going behind them (and you can time your departure after them if you wish). As others said, DC route is very straightforward, there is a huge trench in place and there are a lot of people - I would compare it to Longs Peak Keyhole route. Very well established. Yes, there are crevasses but they are either avoidable or there is an obvious track to cross them (even ladders as it was in our case). I would definitely do DC route unguided.

With Emmons route, it is a bit different. By comparison with DC, it felt very remote, empty (there are still groups, but it was just all spread out). It would make sense to go with the guided service if you are completely new. Still, your biggest variable is the weather. We had no luck with the weather on Emmons route (and were snowed in for 3 days at Camp Shurman), but had blue bird days on DC. You can't predict that. July-August seems to have bigger summit windows. We got lucky around Labor day this year (but no luck back in late June). I would go with Emmons, it is just a much more fun route.


It's worth noting that nkan02 has taken HAMS and has a few winters and springs under her belt. If you have that kind of experience and take the time to learn the basics of crevasse rescue and glacier travel, absolutely go unguided.

With the resume you listed, you're right to at least be considering a guide. It's also early; you could spend the next few months training and build the required skillset to go on your own. Winter 14ers are great training grounds for the easier routes on Mt. Rainier.

That being said, a guide service will carry a large chunk of your crap for you, cook, melt snow, etc. To some people I can see how the money would be worth it for the pampering. I was certainly jealous. :lol:

I shared the Ingraham Flats camp one night with AAI and one night with IMG. Both seemed like class outfits and I honestly didn't see a huge difference in their styles. IMG fed us some of their leftover pasta and probably saved my tent from blowing away, so they get my vote. Both AAI and IMG seemed more like a personal experience than RMI, though I have nothing negative to say about RMI either. It was just a much bigger group. All three guide services successfully got people who probably had no business being there to the summit.

As for Emmons vs. DC, I've only done the DC. I found it a fantastic first glacier experience. The comparison to the Longs Keyhole is fairly accurate, but that doesn't make it any less spectacular. There's just something about being on a glacier for the first time. Plus, you get to see the iconic areas like Camp Muir, Cathedral Gap, the Cleaver itself, etc.

Good luck!
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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby csmcgranahan » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:20 am

As an extension to my earlier post: We got lucky in that the two guided groups that summited the day before us were the first successful summits on Emmons in a couple of weeks - since about the time Ranger Nick Hall (I apologize if I got the name wrong) died from a fall. The day we went up it was three groups of two including my friend and I and two rangers - eight total on the entire route. It was a little harrowing descending at about 13,000 feet and witnessing first hand the recovery effort of the Ranger viewed from about the area from where he fell. When we returned to high camp there were dozens showing up and dozens more as we descended to the trailhead. I think we just got lucky on the timing. My friend and I agreed the biggest surprises were the lack of crowds for us and the couple of bear encounters we had hiking in and out. On the way out we came face to face with a brownish colored black bear that was as big as any I have ever seen - including in a zoo. After about a 20 second standoff he walked around us and kept going uphill. I was also very impressed with the recover effort and could feel some of the heaviness lift from the climbing rangers who knew their fallen colleague was going to be returned to his family. I will never forget those days spent on Mt. Rainier.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby specmiata37 » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:52 am

Palmyra J wrote:
kaiman wrote:Are you planning on going guided or unguided? What is your experience on snow/glaciers? Have you climbed any other Cascade peaks or Colorado 13ers/14ers in winter/spring?


Good questions. My previous climbs are limited to summer climbs of 13ers/14ers in CO, with the exception of one tech/snow summit of Mt Whitney, CA. No glacier or winter/spring experience. My climbing partner has experience in all of the above, with two previous summits of Rainier, but that was many moons ago :wink:

We are scouting/debating guided services as we speak. I am thinking guided due to my limited experience. The better guide services appear to be filling up fast, so now my question to the group experience includes comparisons of guided services.

Alpine Ascents? RMI? International Mountain Guides?

And Muchos Pixels...thanks for the snow/weather/dates Beta. With the sketchy, unpredictable weather we have been seeing internationally, who knows what July 2013 may bring, no?



I just summited Rainier 2 weeks ago with RMI, DC route, summited Sept 7th. RMI was very organized, like mentioned, great group of well experienced guides. We had great weather, bluebird conditions, so we achieved about a 75% success rate. Most of the clients had little or no mountaineering experience. I was impressed with RMI in that the guides actually turned some clients around on the Ingraham Glacier because they were not handling the crampon work very coordinated. Our rope team was first up and we gelled really well. With HAMS experience the DC route without a guide is very doable. If the weather turns though it might be good to have a guide just for their breath of experience. When I do Rainier again I won't use a guide, unless doing the Liberty Ridge route.

I must say though, Rainier is a spectacular mountain. Going in Sept was great in that the crevasses were really opened up. We had to do a big detour on the Emmons to get around a huge crevasse instead of the normal direct route above the Disappointment Cleaver. Train harder than you think, just so you have some left in the tank at the end of the day to enjoy the whole experience and not make it a crawl back to the parking lot. Summit day was 15 hours. The next day the RMI groups didn't summit do to lightening.
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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby Palmyra J » Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:36 am

Many thanks for all the replies. Its only Sept 2012 and all I want to do is read about that damn mountain!

I am all up for some winter/spring climbs on other peaks, and would agree that would be a great way to amp up my skills. Note taken that climbing w/ two presents an element of danger if one gets injured. I am thinking the Emmons route sounds a bit more challenging, and will blow all this information by my partner. I am well aware of the death of the Ranger this past summer..RIP

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby kaiman » Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:46 am

Palmyra J wrote:Many thanks for all the replies. Its only Sept 2012 and all I want to do is read about that damn mountain!

I am all up for some winter/spring climbs on other peaks, and would agree that would be a great way to amp up my skills. Note taken that climbing w/ two presents an element of danger if one gets injured. I am thinking the Emmons route sounds a bit more challenging, and will blow all this information by my partner. I am well aware of the death of the Ranger this past summer..RIP


Ah obsession! The sign of a true climber... :wink: Not to feed the fire, but if you haven't seen it yet Dee Molaneer's book on Rainier is worth reading: http://www.amazon.com/The-Challenge-Rainier-Explorations-Northwests/dp/0916890708/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348249370&sr=8-1&keywords=dee+molenaar
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"Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end."

- Edward Whymper

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby I Man » Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:51 am

kaiman wrote:
Palmyra J wrote:Many thanks for all the replies. Its only Sept 2012 and all I want to do is read about that damn mountain!

I am all up for some winter/spring climbs on other peaks, and would agree that would be a great way to amp up my skills. Note taken that climbing w/ two presents an element of danger if one gets injured. I am thinking the Emmons route sounds a bit more challenging, and will blow all this information by my partner. I am well aware of the death of the Ranger this past summer..RIP


Ah obsession! The sign of a true climber... :wink: Not to feed the fire, but if you haven't seen it yet Dee Molaneer's book on Rainier is worth reading: http://www.amazon.com/The-Challenge-Rainier-Explorations-Northwests/dp/0916890708/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348249370&sr=8-1&keywords=dee+molenaar


Sweet!! I just picked this book up new for $4.10.

I still need to go back someday for Columbia Crest.
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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby specmiata37 » Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:53 pm

kaiman wrote:
Palmyra J wrote:Many thanks for all the replies. Its only Sept 2012 and all I want to do is read about that damn mountain!

I am all up for some winter/spring climbs on other peaks, and would agree that would be a great way to amp up my skills. Note taken that climbing w/ two presents an element of danger if one gets injured. I am thinking the Emmons route sounds a bit more challenging, and will blow all this information by my partner. I am well aware of the death of the Ranger this past summer..RIP


Ah obsession! The sign of a true climber... :wink: Not to feed the fire, but if you haven't seen it yet Dee Molaneer's book on Rainier is worth reading: http://www.amazon.com/The-Challenge-Rainier-Explorations-Northwests/dp/0916890708/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348249370&sr=8-1&keywords=dee+molenaar



Get Mike Gauthier's book as well.
"May I always be the kind of person my dog thinks I am."
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings."
John Muir

grenouille verte
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