Tragedy on Ranier

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Messages 21 - 40 of total 40 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Jun 3, 2014 - 04:59am PT
hey there say, all... i had been seeing this article, too, and was very sad to hear how it ended... :(

my condolences to the families and loved ones...
:(

very sad...
Chugach

Trad climber
Vermont
Jun 3, 2014 - 06:28am PT
I know the LR but am trying to picture the scene. Does anyone have a photo with diagram of best guess on where they were, where they ended up?
Scott Patterson

Mountain climber
Craig
Jun 3, 2014 - 06:51am PT
Maybe a sign that something else precipitated their camping at 12,800? Definitely anywhere past thumb rock really is exposed to the Seracs as well as prime avy terrain so I would be shocked if the guides planned to camp there.

It sounds like they often have a camp above Thumb Rock, but sometimes in the Crater. Here is their planned itinerary:

http://www.alpineascents.com/rainier-climb-liberty-ridge-dtd.asp

Day 2: We'll travel to the Carbon Glacier and traverse to the base of Liberty Ridge. Travel on the Carbon Glacier can be complicated, depending on the condition of the glacier. From the base of Liberty Ridge (8,700 ft.), we'll ascend for four to six hours up steep (40 degrees) and exposed snow to our next camp, at Thumb Rock (10,700 ft.).

Day 3: We'll begin our climb before dawn and continue up 30- to 50-degree snow and ice. We'll use ice anchors and natural rock outcrops to provide running belays as we ascend. The technical terrain up to Liberty Cap (14,112 ft.) covers approximately 3,000 feet, and depending on conditions, we'll often have a short steep pitch of ice (70 degrees) to cross a bergschrund at around 13,500 feet. From Liberty Cap, we'll traverse to the main summit of Rainier (14,410 ft.). Our campsite will be selected by determining the condition and strength of climbers. Often, camp is made in Crater. This will be a very long day!

It also says the following:

For a minimum of two days in a row you will be required to carry a 50-lb. pack on this terrain climbing with two ice tools and cover up to 3,000 ft. per day.

It appears normal for them to camp somewhere above Thumb Rock and below the crater if they only plan to cover up to 3,000 ft. a day.

Very sad though. AAI actually has a really good safety record. They are having a tough few months!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Jun 3, 2014 - 06:52am PT
Wow! Six at a time. Why so large a party on such a dangerous route? It seems small parties have the advantage.

Nonetheless, my condolences to the Mahaney family and to the families of the rest of the missing.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 3, 2014 - 06:58am PT
50 lb. packs....seems awfully heavy for a climb of that duration. I have a much lighter pack for longer, more difficult climbs.
steve shea

climber
Jun 3, 2014 - 07:11am PT
Condolences to the families. Ya, 50lbs sounds huge for that route. This is why I always preferred steep alpine routes and mixed routes. At 70+ they clean off. But no matter, if you are weaving in and out of seracs on lower angle snow with weak layers and then add heating and 50lb packs on a guided route with six...
Port

Trad climber
San Diego
Jun 3, 2014 - 07:22am PT
50 lb. packs....seems awfully heavy for a climb of that duration. I have a much lighter pack for longer, more difficult climbs.

Mine was 39lb on LR. Not sure why the extra weight but perhaps AAI requires something extra for their climbers.

I'm very confused about taking an extra night high on LR. From my memory, I can't recall anywhere even remotely resonable to setup. Better to push on and finish the damn thing.

Damn tragic for these folks.
stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Jun 3, 2014 - 07:35am PT
I know the LR but am trying to picture the scene. Does anyone have a photo with diagram of best guess on where they were, where they ended up?
Chugach

If they fell or were avalanched from high on LR, seems like they most likely would have ended up below the Willis Wall. Which is a bad place indeed, and would explain the reluctance of the Park Service to attempt a recovery.
Scott Patterson

Mountain climber
Craig
Jun 3, 2014 - 07:50am PT
50 lb. packs....seems awfully heavy for a climb of that duration.

Not sure why the extra weight but perhaps AAI requires something extra for their climbers.


I admit that I haven't gone on that many guided climbs (though I used to guide backpacking trips) and the vast majority of my climbing trips have been unguided, but it seems to me that much of the time when a guide service says you will be required to carry 50 lbs or whatever, your actual pack weight is actually lower.
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Jun 3, 2014 - 08:04am PT
This is just awful.

I'm a little surprised that Seamstress hasn't weighed in with information. She usually has a lot of information about things going on in that region.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Jun 3, 2014 - 08:07am PT
I know the LR but am trying to picture the scene. Does anyone have a photo with diagram of best guess on where they were, where they ended up?

With all the media coverage this is still pretty vague. the best i could guess, based on some photo's looking up toward the willis wall side possibly taken out of the helicopter was that they went down that side, over numerous cliff bands.

I believe there had been some storm just prior, so a slab avalanche seems as likely a cause as any. Its a grim scenario. By the time your in the gun barrel climbing up into a hazard, a retreat back down the ridge ( with clients) would be quite unpalatable but could be the only reasonable option.

I wonder how often retreats occur back down the ridge?
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Jun 3, 2014 - 08:11am PT
3000 foot plus "fall".. Guided party.. Condolences to all. Seems to be a dangerous peak from some sides.
Slabby D

Trad climber
B'ham WA
Jun 3, 2014 - 08:25am PT
hope that helps people visualize what little information is available.
hope that helps people visualize what little information is available.
Credit: Slabby D


The following website has some nice photos of how icy and technical the upper section of the ridge can be.

Liberty Ridge photos
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jun 3, 2014 - 09:16am PT
12,800' on LR is almost right at the right edge of this pic. Not a lot of good tent sites there but
more to the point your major difficulties are virtually over so why would you stop there?

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 3, 2014 - 05:14pm PT
My friend Steph did this climb in July 2010 (when the conditions were good that year).
She made a nice photo overlay which shows the relief a bit better:

full trip report with many photos at:
http://www.stephabegg.com/home/tripreports/washington/northcascades/rainierlibertyridge
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Jun 6, 2014 - 05:10pm PT
seems like an odd place to camp. I always figured that if you launch from Thumb Rock, you better commit fully to the summit plateau or head back to Thumb Rock. Any place in between is, as we sadly have seen, truly no-man's land.

Has a consensus emerged as to what happened? Supposing they were in-camp, and were anchored in some fashion, I guess it's no big deal for an avi to take the entire camp for a ride. What I'm having a hard time envisioning is a catastrophic climber fall on one rope taking out the other.
BJ

climber
Jun 6, 2014 - 08:11pm PT
http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/Report_Hood_Bergschrund.htm
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Jun 6, 2014 - 08:29pm PT
MS - A few days ago I saw a detailed run down of communications, search obs, eye witness accounts ( other climbing party) etc which i think was from outside magazine maybe. Due to avy debris, unpacked tents and other indications that an accident happened while camping, the leading suspicion is avalanche striking the camp.

Myself and some mates once found ourselves short of 14/2 camp on denali, so we pitched camp on a piece of 35 - 40 degree terrain in white out.... then it started snowing, so much me and paul started getting a little concerned, enough to get up and start digging for an hour or two. Nothing happened but we really had a hard time sleeping at the time.. It wouldn't take much to push a couple of tents off.
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Jun 6, 2014 - 09:18pm PT
Camping on 60 degree snow slope &#40;Denali, Direct W rib, before the ...
Camping on 60 degree snow slope (Denali, Direct W rib, before the ice bulges)
Credit: Guck
We dug a platform in good weather. It was just big enough for the tent and took about one hour (we were a party of two).
Groveler

climber
NorCal
Jun 13, 2014 - 07:11pm PT
In case anyone is still wondering about this...
We were a couple days behind that party on the route. We arrived at Thumb Rock about 11am on Saturday and watched the helicopters search for several hours, not knowing exactly what had happened. We could see debris (gear) on the glacier below the Willis Wall.
The next day, climbing the route, we found a lot of unconsolidated snow on the ridge. The final section on climber's left side of the ridge, along and above the Black Pyramid up to about 13,000 feet, consisted of unconsolidated sugary snow in varying depth up to about a foot or more, over ice. Zero bonding between the snow and the ice, especially toward the top. The ice was bare in some pretty large patches, which I climbed through for fun, but it looked like the normal result of wind and sun exposure. We didn't notice any obvious avalanche paths on or near the route itself (but plenty elsewhere). I can't see anyone camping on this section of slope as they would have had to carve out platforms from solid ice.
Once above that final section of the ridge, there's a relatively flat area below the final bergschrund, around 13,000 feet, but a lot of that area seems like the fall line would be down the Liberty Wall (climber's right) side of the ridge. So it's unclear to me where they would have camped. With that said, NPS probably knows where they were, as they reportedly found some pickets that I assume were used to anchor tents.
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