Mount Rainier


Curtis Ridge

Report by Dave Reed:

Directions From Tacoma, WA:   Take I-5 North towards Seattle and then the 142A exit onto WA-18 E toward Auburn/N Bend.  Take the WA-164 E exit then a left at Auburn Way S/WA-164 and a slight left at SE 440th St/Griffin Ave.  Turn left at Roosevelt Ave and continue on SE Enumclaw-Chinook Pass Rd/WA-410 into Mt. Rainier National Park.  Once inside the park, take a right towards Sunrise/White River then a left further down to the White River Campground.  The climbers lot is off to the left and should have plenty of space.
Note: You'll need to stop at the entrance ranger station in order to get a climbing pass ($30) and a camping permit/blue bag if you're planning on camping out above 10,000'.  While they claim that all the spots may be full at a given site on the mountain, once you get there it will most likely be the case that there is room for you anyways, so don't really worry too much about the "allotted" space that the ranger at the base may give you.

Night 1- White River Campground: Kalet flew out on Thursday morning with the intent to bag the Liberty Cap of Mount Rainier.  After gathering/buying/stealing gear all afternoon we made it out to the White River Campground by nightfall.  We woke up to rain at around 5am and napped in the car before acquiring our climbing/camping permits at 7.  Following a quick backtrack to find me a replacement headlamp (forgotten item #1), an oatmeal breakfast, and a thunderstorm that engulfed the whole mountain, we were ready to go.

Night 2- Camp Shurman / Ascent of Interglacier: After waiting out the weather it finally became clear again for our ascent to Camp Shurman.  We took off around 11am with fully loaded packs and made the base of Interglacier shortly thereafter.  Slapping on skins lightened the load a little and we made equally good time getting to camp at around 5pm and 9400'.  Boiled snow and slept.
Elevation Gain: ~5185'

Ascent of Columbia Crest: Woke at 12:15am to a bustling camp filled with the light of numerous headlamps.  Mine though, had very little battery left (although supposedly brand new) but the ones from Kalet's camera worked well.  So we roped up and got on our way.  Our pace led us past most of the groups until we paired up with one that had a similar pace.  As it turned out we were the first group to reach the rocky path that lead to Columbia Crest, but the visibility had become very poor.  A brief intermission proved fruitful and as quickly as it had clouded it was clear once again.  We quickly bagged the windy summit and came back to collect our stashed gear.
Elevation Gain: ~4877'

Ascent of Liberty Cap: A clear view to the Liberty Cap could be seen from our location so we decided to take it.  We descended the chopped up snow on foot and walked out on the saddle towards the ridge.  What we encountered was some of the most fierce wind that threatened to throw us over into an impending crevasse.  A decision was made to make an ultralight ascent so we anchored our packs and went with just axes and rope between us.  Made the summit in what was probably an hour and a half and snapped a few pictures.
Elevation Loss: ~560' / Elevation Gain: ~435'

Run 1: Descended back to our packs then continued down to meet up with a group that was hanging out in a spot that was protected from the wind.  They knew of a more direct route than heading back up to meet the trail so we decided to follow them.  When we hit the trail we were finally able to put the skis on that we had lugged around all day but decided to stay roped in.  Initially I turned out to be quite awful skiing on a rope and ended up knocking Kalet around a little.  But after a few turns I started to get the hang of things and we were able to safely cross the crevasses that littered the trail.  We passed all the down-climbers and returned to camp around 11am.
Elevation Loss: ~1085' (On Foot) / ~3743' (Skied)

Run 2: Packed up the rest of our camping gear and headed down the final stretch of Emmons and briefly crossed the rocky path back onto Interglacier.  The snow here was safe (no rope) and quite perfect with a nicely baked corn allowing easy turns all the way back to the trail.  Once again we loaded everything onto our packs and descended just as the sun began to bake us.  The shade of the trees on trail made things bearable until we finally made it back to the car.
Elevation Skied: ~2415'
Total Elevations: ~10497' (gained) / ~6158' (skied)