Emmons w/ Ski Descent
July 7-8, 2007
Pantengliopolis Video Fantasticness [18 mb]
TROG by Kirsten Hauge
Back in January, Pete and Becky came up with the idea of skiing the Emmons over 4th of July weekend. As expected, our usual gaggle of skiing friends jumped on the idea and a rather large group of us put in for permits. Months passed and we lost a few of the group due to injury and other commitments. In the end, we were left with Becky and Pete opting for the 4-day climb, Andy and Murray opting for the 3-day climb and Marcus, Anastasia and I opting for the 2-day climb. Sadly, Nate was not going to be able to join us because he was going to be at a friend's bachelor party-weekend. We had the forecast we had been waiting for … 14,000ft freezing levels for the entire 4-day event.
Marcus, Anastasia and I left Seattle on Friday early evening. After a quick stop at the ranger station and the White River Campground, we drove back to Greenwater to eat dinner at the Naches Tavern. Nate and I had eaten there in 2005 the night before we headed in to Rainier for our summit attempt. I remembered the milkshakes being really good and, being a bit superstitious, figured it couldn't hurt to re-create the events leading up to my summit in 2005 for our attempt this weekend. Marcus even bought Anastasia a new Naches Tavern baseball hat which I dubbed her new "lucky cap".
We hit the trail bright and early on Saturday morning. A sign at the beginning of the Glacier Basin trail states that the trail was obliterated in the November floods and that word really describes the trail well. I can't even imagine the force of water that moved all those huge trees and boulders the size of small cars. Luckily, the trail is well marked with yellow caution tape and it only took an extra 30 minutes to get to Glacier Basin. We were very happy to finally reach the snow so we could get the boots and skis off our backs and onto our feet. The skin up the Interglacier is always the same as I remember it … long and hot. As we topped out at Camp Curtis we could see two small dots skiing down the Corridor on the Emmons Glacier. When we got to Camp Schurman, we realized it was Becky and Pete. They had summited that morning and had skied the entire route back to camp. Yeah!
After talking with Becky and Pete, who had spoken to the climbing ranger the day before, our group of five (Andy, Murray, Marcus, Anastasia and myself) decided to leave for the summit at 6:30am. We had such a relaxing evening knowing that we didn't have to wake up until 5:30 in the morning - what a luxury on Rainier. I love the ski descents! The weather was sunny, warm and windless - we all sat around chatting, relaxing and eating. As the wind started to kick up for the evening, we settled into our tents. The wind blew pretty fiercely during the night and only a few of us were actually able to get a good night's sleep, Fortunately, I was one of them.
Pete and Becky got out of their tent to send us off in the morning and at 6:45am, we headed up. The long climb began and actually, for me, time went by very quickly. We took a couple of sit down breaks and made steady progress towards the summit.
Roughly seven hours after leaving camp, we had made it to the summit! What a huge accomplishment for everyone, but especially Anastasia since it was her very first time. We sat on the summit for 20-30 minutes enjoying the views and taking everything in. A solo climber walked on up and offered to take our picture, after which he quietly left. Other than that one guy, we were the only people on the entire summit - a very surreal and unique experience on such a glorious day. The summit was a little bittersweet for me, however, since Nate wasn't there.
The top 1500 ft of the Emmons was pretty icy but nice enough snow to hold an edge. Negotiating the bergschrund was easy and we managed to get past a couple other slightly sketchy crevasses with no problem. On the way up, I had been thinking there was no way we were going to be able to ski some of these tricky crevasse sections but here we were … doing just that. It was pretty neat. Eventually, the snow turned to schmoo and after only an hour and a half, we were back at Camp Schurman with huge, did I mention HUGE, smiles on our faces!
After a short rest, we packed up camp and headed back down the Interglacier for the last 3000ft of skiing. The ski down the Interglacier was slow and painful for some of us as we were really feeling the weight of the overnight packs and the tiredness of our legs. We skied to a small little ribbon of snow just above the campsite at Glacier Basin. After searching the river for what seemed like an eternity, Marcus finally found a decent rock-jumping river crossing that was pretty spicy. Thanks again Murray for the hand across.
The boots and skis went on our pack and we started the 3 mile hike back to the car along the obliterated Glacier Basin trail at 6:30pm. Luckily, the hike out went a little faster than the way in and we made it back to the car by 8:15pm with only 2 ankle rolls and no emotional breakdowns along the way. Success! Sadly, we were too tired to drink our TRB's (Triumphant Return Beers) so we postponed them to later in the week. Since it was so late, we all decided we wanted to get home as quickly as possible which means we didn't even stop for Triumphant Return Dinner (TRD) … all we ended up with was cold-cut sandwiches from the QFC in Enumclaw. But even that tasted good after our long day.
It was a super fun weekend with great friends, positive energy, lots of laughter, glorious weather, a fantastic climb and an unbelievable ski. I couldn't have asked for anything more except that it would have been cool to have Nate there, too. Next time. :)Cross-Posts:
:: Repete.us TR