Skiing Mount Rainier
Mighty Tahoma 4392 m - so high
The following series of articles highlight a crescendo of ski descents from July 2005 to June 2007.
East Success Glacier Couloir Ski Descent
June 8, 2007
Prose from Mike G.:
And with that said, ski demon Sky has been at it again. On the one day of really good weather last week (Friday), he and Dave Brown stormed the Success Couloirs and made short work of the route on skies [sic]. Not to be out done, Jason Hummel posted a sweet Fuhrer Finger trip report (a bit dated, but nice images).
Way to stay in the game, Jase!
Photo by Dave Brown
Fuhrer Finger Ski Descent
June 21, 2006
Glacial air in my mountaineering boots, plus sweet thang coughing boogers on me. Good times.
Photo by Paul Belitz
This little Rainier rant dates back to Fall of 2005. The Hummels may be singing a different tune by now; I've certainly found myself overwhelmed by inspiration to ski every worthy line on The Mountain. Jason actually skied Fuhrer Finger recently, too.
Ask a Hummel and they will blatantly tell you, with no hesitation, "Mt Rainier sucks!"
You might want to know why. Myriad reasons include:
- Discomfort because of high altitude: this is a 14k+ mountain and most northwesterners live near sea level. While I have felt the effects of altitude during one-day ascents, this particular problem has never bothered me too much. Nevertheless, it is a factor to consider.
- Terrible conditions because of high altitude: Mt Rainier gets the worst weather because of its height and isolation. It stands alone and gets scoured by the wind from Pacific storms like no other mountain in the Cascades. It's very rare to get excellent conditions from top to bottom on any route on this peak. The best hope is after an atypically windless winter storm, looking for powder and hoping that an avalanche won't get you, or during a summer heat wave when the freezing levels get very high so that corn might form above 12k.
- Bureaucracy I: it costs money to climb Mt Rainier, unlike other peaks that provide the same challenges and rewards without its disadvantages (eg Mt Baker).
- Bureaucracy II: access to Mt Rainier is restricted in a most-suck fashion. The gate to Paradise in the winter is only open from dawn to dusk, which precludes the hallowed one-day push without leaving town early in the afternoon of the day before the ascent.
The November, 2006 monsoons took this bullet to staggering new heights. Access could be a rough issue for the remainder of the 2006-2007 season on Rainier.
- Notoriety: people come from around the world to climb Mt Rainier, the crown jewel of the Cascades. We who live near the range realize that other peaks offer equal challenges and rewards, along with better scenery, without the added hassles. The only thing Mt Rainier can truly claim over other peaks of the Cascades is altitude, which is great if you're into killing brain cells and feeling sick, but other than that it's a disadvantage. Many locations throughout the North Cascades offer vastly superior scenery.
Well, wasn't that quite the rant? Don't let it fool you. Mt Rainier is The Mountain. It's BIG. Go get some.