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Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

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Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby Palmyra J » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:18 pm

Decision/pondering time here guys and gals. I am contemplating Rainier, summer of 2013, and would love some feedback from those of you that have completed it or done some research.

One basic choice will be which route might allow best chance of a summit. The other would be planning the date of the attempt. I will be traveling in from out-of-state, and would prefer to have a 'best chance' scenerio. The longer, more technical Emmon's Glacier route holds appeal, but I understand it would fall easier to weather/conditions.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,
~JT

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby Rainier_Wolfcastle » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:43 pm

I only have a sample of 1, I summitted guided via Emmons 7/26 of this year. Consensus among the group/guides was that the DC route gets sooo much traffic that you never really need to worry about having/staying on route. Just stay in the trench. Sometimes the Emmons route is very obvious and somewhat similar in difficulty, other times you need to be creative and/or the route is more technical.

The day we summitted, the route up on the climber's left side of Emmons was pretty spicy and was not a particularly good option on the descent (although this had been the standard route for a few weeks, it was getting too risky)...so we actually ended up descending on the climber's right side, eventually ending up on the Winthrop Glacier. Multiple belays were required on the descent. The descent route had not been used recently...just spit-balled by the guides and local ranger the night before...

Have fun, I hope you have as sweet a time as I did!
Shawn D
Broomfield, CO

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby kaiman » Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:18 pm

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?
"I want to keep the mountains clean of racism, religion and politics. In the mountains this should play no role."

- Joe Stettner

"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

Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby ortegajv » Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:20 pm

Hi,
I attempted the DC route twice - may 2004 and july 2006. The first attempt was unsuccessful, and the 2nd one was successful. Having lived in CO and WA, I must say that climbing there is harder than here. There's more exposure, crevasse danger, snow travel and weather can be a huge challenge and it's just colder. The vertical gains are also much bigger (on Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier, you gain ~8000-9000 feet. I saw the Emmons Glacier and it looked really scary - crevasses everywhere. If you only have one chance, I would suggest the DC route. As others have pointed out, it gets a lot of traffic and is relatively safe. That makes it a little less exciting, but for my climb, I had so much respect for the mountain that I thought that would be the best place to start. I did it with one other friend, but the route was fairly obvious from the guided parties. We left Camp Muir at ~1:00am. We used a tent, not the shelter. The guided groups started about the same time. However, we were much faster than them and reached the summit at 5am and didn't see them until about 6:30 am when we were ~1000 feet down from the summit and they were still going up.

Well, hope that helps. It's an amazing mountain - have a great time!

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby csmcgranahan » Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:11 pm

A buddy and I summited via Emmons this July 5 unguided. There was a foot of new snow the day before we got to high camp. We decided to sit it out a day and let two guided groups go up and pick a route. It ended up being a good choice since they cut some nice steps through the crevasse/serac field above the corridor that made it easier in the dark. We were able to more or less follow their path to about 13,000 where it got icy enough to be interesting but then turned to a styrofoam consistency. We found very little crevasse danger that early in the season and had great weather. We agreed the best part of not being guided was we were able to take our time with an extra day at high camp. The climb up to high camp was quite an effort in itself with a full pack. We agreed Emmons felt like a mini expedition - not sure I would feel that way about the DC.
Last edited by csmcgranahan on Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby pvnisher » Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:28 am

If the summit is your primary goal, I think that DC or ID would have higher chances of success. First trip was bluebird the whole time (first week of Sept). My second time there I waited a solid freaking week for the weather to clear. And it did. For one day. The rained/snowed/avalanched again. And that was end of June.
It's so different than CO weather patterns.
Good luck!

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby MuchosPixels » Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:34 am

Ive also been planning on climbing up Rainier for some time. From the research ive been able to gather online, the best bet for success is for a mid july to late july attempt (depending on how much snow the area got that particular year) on the DC or ID route. The reason is that the snow has consolidated enough but the crevasses have yet to open up significantly and thus a faster, more direct route should still be available. Later in the season the route might get a lot more circuitous and thus requiring more effort and the objective dangers are increased.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby ed20320 » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:30 am

either route will give you a great experience and get an awesome flavor for the mountain. Camp Muir does get A LOT of traffic. both times i've been there, we have gotten an early start (530 am or so) in order have been able to beat the crowds and we got a good spot in the climbers hut. a few key decisions for you are:

1) crowd (Disappointment cleaver route) or no crowd (Edmons glacier route).
2) if you decide on staying at Camp Muir, do you want to sleep with 25 or so of your closest friends or pack a tent up 5000 feet and camp around Muir.

Either way, you will have a great climb. I've been there twice. I summited in September the first time and April the second time. both times were awesome.

good luck.

Ed
In the immortal words of Socrates, “I drank WHAT?”

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby rijaca » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:35 am

ed20320 wrote:1) crowd (Disappointment cleaver route) or no crowd (Edmons glacier route).
2) if you decide on staying at Camp Muir, do you want to sleep with 25 or so of your closest friends or pack a tent up 5000 feet and camp around Muir.

Ed


I can assure you, that you're not going to avoid crowds by doing the Emmons/Winthrop glacier route.
"Spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill"

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby Palmyra J » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:56 am

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?

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby climbing_rob » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:17 am

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.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby climbingaggie03 » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:26 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 can't speak from personal experience, but I have several friends who guide or did guide for RMI and they're all fantastic climbers and great guides. RMI is a world class outfit.

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