Mount Rainier Via Emmons – Oh Boy, That Mountain Is TALL


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | June 10, 2016      
Booting up with glacier formations in the distance. The snow level is still pretty high but melting faster then usual.

Spring ski mountaineering in the Pacific Northwest, yes!

Over Memorial Day weekend, Louie and I skied Inter Glacier on Mountain Rainier. The road to White River Campground had just opened and we thought it would be the perfect activity for a nice sunny day. The skiing on Mount Ruth ended up being excellent.

From Ruth, we got a good view of one of the famous climbing routes up Rainier — the Emmons. Louie quickly decided that if the weather was right the following weekend, we should go for the summit.

Louie enjoying spring corn on Mount Ruth with Emmons route and Camp Curtis in the background.

Louie enjoying spring corn on Mount Ruth with Emmons route and Camp Curtis in the background, Memorial day.

The week went by fast. After prusiking up our deck in Seattle and other creative crevasse rescue refreshers, we found ourselves back at the White River Campground along with our friends, Skyler and Phil. Only now our packs were about 20 pounds heavier.

We left the campground late that morning. Our plan was to get to 9500 feet. After a quick two mile hike and some creek crossing shenanigans, thankfully dry, we were skinning towards Inter Glacier.

Enjoying a beautiful view from an marvelous camp spot, ready to get some quality rest before the big day.

A beautiful view from a marvelous camp spot, ready to get some quality rest before the big day.

We got into Camp Curtis around 5pm, set up our tents, ate dinner, melted water and headed to bed while it was still bright and early.

Skinning up as the sun wakes up behind us. Julia chasing the boys on the way up just past Camp Sherman.

Skinning up as the sun wakes up behind us. Chasing the boys on the way up, just past Camp Sherman.

Phil checking out the inside of a crevasse.

Phil checking out the inside of a crevasse.

Getting an alpine start, we headed out of camp at 4am with the sun rising behind us. The snow froze overnight so we threw on our ski crampons and skinned to 11500 feet. Once that high, we transitioned to crampons and booted up until about 14k.

We crossed a few crevasse openings, with solid snow bridges. There was one that really did mess with my mind — it was small enough to easily step over with skis, but looking down into it brought me the chills.

About 500 feet away from the summit, we took a long break and cooked ramen. Phil even took a nap. We summited around 1pm, with spectacular views of St. Helens, Adams, Baker and Glacier Peak, each brilliant with its own beauty.

Of course, we had to drink a Rainier on the summit. Mnt St. Helen's spotted in the distance.

Of course, we had to drink a Rainier on the summit. Mt. St. Helen’s tiny in the distance.

We were so stoked for the best part — the ski descent! The weather blessed us with freezing levels to about 15k, so only the first ~500 feet was a bit icy. The rest was quite the corn harvest, in some places with mash-potato-e turns that my fatigued legs did not appreciate. But mostly a really fine ski down. We got to camp around 3pm, took a quick nap, packed up and headed back to the car.

Skiing of the summit - excited for 9k of soft corn!

Skiing off the summit. Excited for 9k of soft corn!

We opted for a longer ski and a lower creek crossing, which we very soon came to regret. The river level had risen since our way up, leaving us with less then ideal crossing options. Enjoy the photo below for a good laugh!

Creek Crossing how-to, combined with heavy pack, ripped pants, and a lei (crucial part to success). Skyler showing us how it's done.

Creek Crossing how-to: heavy pack, ripped pants, and a lei (crucial part to success). Skyler showing us how it’s done.

Overall, an outstanding trip. We were all stoked to make it to summit, ski, and check Rainier off the list (first time for 3 of us). As I drove to work Monday morning and looked at Rainier from the I-90 bridge, I found it hard to believe that I can now say I’ve been on top of it.



IF YOU'RE HAVING TROUBLE VIEWING SITE, TRY WHITELISTING IN YOUR ADBLOCKER, OTHERWISE PLEASE CONTACT US USING MENU ABOVE, OR FACEBOOK.

Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


Comments

8 Responses to “Mount Rainier Via Emmons – Oh Boy, That Mountain Is TALL”

  1. Andy June 10th, 2016 10:56 am

    In retrospect, would you bother with skins/ski crampons above Sherman or not?

  2. Phil June 10th, 2016 12:33 pm

    Any better creek crossings higher up in Glacier Basin or is it all dicey now?

  3. Lisa Dawson June 10th, 2016 1:14 pm

    Bravo, Julia! Summiting Rainier is an impressive feat.

  4. Julia Dubinina June 10th, 2016 1:51 pm

    Andy —

    In my personal opinion, it was nice to skin the ~2k that we did instead of booting it, so the skins/ski crampons are worth it. Especially since we left most of our heavier gear down at camp, that extra weight was not too bad.

    There was a party above us who skinned 90% of the way from Sherman. There were also a few parties who booted 100%. I’d say it’s a matter of preference and the icy vs slushy snow conditions the day of.

    Phil —

    If you follow the Glacier Basin trail all the way up , there will be a mellow creek crossing. It’s maybe another 1-1.5 miles of walking compared to the lower point where we crossed. (~3 miles from the trail-head)

  5. Julia Dubinina June 10th, 2016 1:52 pm

    Thank you Lisa! It was an incredible experience 🙂

  6. Jim June 10th, 2016 2:47 pm

    I’ve always wanted to do the Emmons approach so I’m going to try it this weekend. Thanks for the detailed report.

  7. peter gold June 11th, 2016 2:44 pm

    Great inspirational account. Got a new hip two months back and all I do is fantasize about skiing again (this last winter was a little painful).
    Thanks!

  8. Greg Louie June 11th, 2016 6:14 pm

    Great writeup, Julia, brings back some fond memories – and good to see you and Louie at the MTB event today!





Anti-Spam Quiz:

 

While you can subscribe to comment notification by checking the box above, you must leave a brief comment to do so, which records your email and requires you to use our anti-spam challange. If you don't like leaving substantive comments that's fine, just leave a simple comment that says something like "thanks, subscribed" with a made-up name. Check the comment subscription checkbox BEFORE you submit. NOTE: BY SUBSCRIBING TO COMMENTS YOU GIVE US PERMISSION TO STORE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS INDEFINITLY. YOU MAY REQUEST REMOVAL AND WE WILL REMOVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WITHIN 72 HOURS. To request removal of personal information, please contact us using the comment link in our site menu.
If you need an emoticon for a comment just copy/paste off the following list, or use text code you might be familiar with.

:D    :-)    :(    :lol:    :x    :P    :oops:    :cry:    :evil:    :twisted:    :roll:    :wink:    :!:    :?:    :idea:    :arrow:   
  
Due to comment spam we moderate most comments. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly after approval. Comments with one or more links in the text may be held in moderation, for spam prevention. If you'd like to publish a photo in a comment, contact us. Guidelines: Be civil, no personal attacks, avoid vulgarity and profanity.

  Your Comments


  Recent Posts




Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube

WildSnow Twitter Feed



 



  • Blogroll & Links


  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to WildSnow.com and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version