Trip Report
Liberty Cap Beating #2: Ptarmigan Ridge
Thursday August 18, 2011 6:58pm
Mt Rainier - Ptarmigan Ridge (IV, 55 degree snow/ice, AI2/WI2, 5.6/M3)

July 22-25, 2011

Credit: PellucidWombat

Credit: PellucidWombat

Credit: PellucidWombat

Though not as popular and well known as neighboring Liberty Ridge, many climbers who have done both consider Ptarmigan Ridge a better climb, and possibly the best route on Mt. Rainier. The path of Ptarmigan Ridge is less direct and the position less striking, and sadly the real climbing ends at a much lower altitude than Liberty Ridge (ca. 12,200’ rather than at Liberty Cap’s lofty 14,112’.) However, Ptarmigan Ridge offers more technical climbing, with steeper slopes, more ice, and a choice of two finishes: A less popular variation that climbs through an icefall to the left, and the standard right variation that ascends a chimney system through a rock band and requires some technical rock climbing on perhaps the only good rock on the mountain.


Friday – “Mostly Sunny” Approach to Observation Camp

Credit: PellucidWombat
Vital gear for an alpine climb

Although it seems that most climbers these days climb the ridge after a long traverse across the Winthrop and Carbon Glaciers from the White River Trailhead, we opted for the original & more scenic approach from Mowich Lake. I wasn’t a fan of the 2 hour drive required to set up the car shuttle (or the 2 hour drive back after the climb), but this approach was so much more scenic than the White River one and totally worth the effort.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Rainforest hiking to the big mountain.

The forecast for the weekend and all of next week was “Mostly Sunny” with a high pressure system that settled in. The clouds at the Mowich trailhead apparently didn’t get the message, as we had to navigate in whiteout by GPS through Spray Park. Normally a nice meadow of wildflowers this time of year, we were still climbing on snow.

I was getting worried that we wouldn’t be able to observe the mountain from our camp at Observation Rock, but fortunately as we got higher and the day dragged on the clouds lowered and we were treated with a spectacular view of the north side of Mt. Rainier.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Clouds parting as we near the Flett Glacier and Observation Rock Camp

Credit: PellucidWombat
Echo Rock

Credit: PellucidWombat
Worms in the Flett Glacier


We crossed the Flett Glacier at set up camp at a nice spot with running water and two large boulders that made for some interesting bouldering problems – especially in our mountaineering boots.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Observation Rock Camp

Credit: PellucidWombat
Tarn Lake Below the Flett Glacier

Credit: PellucidWombat
Looking down the Flett Glacier

Just watch out for the sharp rocks if you fall – Anastasia drew first blood from her rump after slipping off one of the boulders :-)

Credit: PellucidWombat
Bouldering on the Boulder in My Nepal Evos

Credit: PellucidWombat
Anastasia Doing the Best Problem that I Found on the Boulders

Credit: PellucidWombat
Perfect Photo Op


Anastasia chose to spend the rest of the day relaxing at camp while I spazzed out and ran further up the ridge, camera in tow.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Views as I Wandered Above Camp

I was hoping to get some nice shots of the Mowich Face since I’m interested in doing some future ice climbs there, and after ascending another 1,000 ft I found a nice overlook to the Mowich Face and North Mowich Glacier

Credit: PellucidWombat
North Mowich Glacier

I woke up from my nap and tagged Observation Pk on my way back to camp. I recommend this side trip as it is pretty easy and you get great views of the entire north side of Mt. Rainier.

Credit: PellucidWombat
N Side of Mt Rainier Seen From Observation Rock. Mowich Face is on the Right.


Credit: PellucidWombat
Sunset at Observation Camp

After dinner, I got out my camera and tripod and spent the night taking long exposure shots between sleeping breaks. The weather was mild, so I just moved my sleeping bag around with my camera as I took different shots, sleeping during the hour it took to get some of the shots.

Credit: PellucidWombat


Saturday – ‘Dogturdite’ Ridge and Approaching High Camp

This day was a short, chill day up to High Camp. The Russell Glacier was chill enough that like on the Flett Glacier there was no need to rope up.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Moat on the North Mowich Glacier

Most of the approach is pretty easy by staying on the Russell Glacier to the east of the ridge crest for most of the approach.


Next step was crossing what Anastasia called “Dogturdite Ridge”, which is the final knife-edge ridge leading to the Ptarmigan Ridge high camp ("dogturdite" is a definition by Kyle Flick, a local WA climber, who gave Anastasia beta on its bypass last year). If it were composed of dog turd it may not have been so bad, but since it was actually composed of Cascade volcanic graham cracker, this made for some interesting class 2 scrambling with a heavy pack on. Though Anastasia was native to Portland and led WI4, somehow she has thus far avoided much of the loose rock in the Cascades, as she was scared stiff on this section. I just kicked down rocks and dug into the gravel until I got some small toe prints that would hold, and delicately moved across the terrain, telling her which rocks you can lean on, and reminding her to try to stay balanced on her feet and not lean in to pull on rocks.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Beginning the Downclimb to Bypass the Rock Step on 'Dogturd' Ridge

We were stopped by an overhanging rock step, but bypassed it by down climbing 40 degree snow slopes to the east for about 200 ft and traversing the rest of the ridge on the lower snow slopes.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Anastasia on the Bypass of the Rock Step on 'Dogturd' Ridge


Since we had another early day at camp, but I couldn’t easily venture higher on the mountain this day, I used my energy to make some productive additions to the high camp.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Alien Visitors to the High Camp


Credit: PellucidWombat
Our New Climbing Partner Was Rock Solid

We had another clear night so I spent another night doing night photography. (In case you were wondering, yes, ice avalanches come off of the Ptarmigan Ice Cliff pretty frequently, but the camp is just high enough from the connecting saddle and the ridge shear enough that the camp is protected from the debris).

Credit: PellucidWombat

Credit: PellucidWombat

Credit: PellucidWombat
Happy Night Photos


Sunday – Ptarmigan Ridge!

Credit: PellucidWombat
Crossing Fresh Avalanche Debris On Our Alpine Start


Credit: PellucidWombat
Alpenglow on the Route Above. Can You See the Climbers Ahead?

There was one other party on the route that day, and they were about 1 hour and 1,000 ft ahead of us. As the sun cast brilliant alpenglow on the rocks above little bits of ice trickled down the slope as we simul-soloed up slopes of continuous slopes of 40 degree neve with occasional short bits of ice. At first I thought the ice trickles were knocked down by the other climbers, but eventually the trickles grew larger and some rocks started coming down with them – the sun was reaching the plastered rime on the cliffs above!

Anastasia seemed used to this and climbed on. Coming from the more solid ranges of the Sierra and the Wasatch, I’m not used to projectiles flying at me, so now it was my turn to be the shaky-legged one. Eventually I got used to it and learned to keep my eyes & ears open to the sound of falling debris, and then tuck in my tools and keep my head down when the little barrage arrived.


Credit: PellucidWombat
Rounding the Corner, About to Start the Steep Traverse

Although the climbing was still easy, we did start placing screws at this point as we were more worried about a fall caused by getting hit than by lack of technique. I got my opportunity to lead just before the steep traverse. We were encountering more ice now, and the traverse was quite a thrilling surprise – 300 ft of continuous traversing on 55 degree ice, with a lot of exposure below. I front-pointed and swung tools the entire way, but fortunately the ice was easy enough if you tested placements, so I only placed one stubby every 100 ft – just enough to keep one piece between us as we simul-climbed.

Credit: PellucidWombat
First Pitch of Sustained Ice After the Steep Traverse

Now it was getting fun as the slopes got icier and stayed in the 45-55 degree range. After the traverse Anastasia took off in the lead. She led the remaining pitches as we agreed that I’d get the rock pitch if she could have the ice pitches.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Another Traversing Ice Pitch

The route ascended a series of short icy headwalls connected by sections of steep traversing as we threaded the cliff bands. The climbing was great! Ice everywhere, but none of it was too hard so we made decent time.

Credit: PellucidWombat
One Stubby Anchor Backed Up with Tools. Luckily the Ice Climbing was Easy and Secure!

The only way things could have been better was if we had brought more screws. We only had 4, and with continuous ice and a 30m rope, we had to stop every 300 ft to recover screws, and all anchors were built out of a single stubby equalized with two tools. We would have been faster and more secure with 8 screws in these conditions.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Final Traverse to the Chimney

Credit: PellucidWombat
Final Ice Pitch Before the Chimney

Credit: PellucidWombat
Ready to Lead the Chimney!

At last we reached the rock chimney, and I eagerly charged up into the rocks.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Some Class 4 & Loose Blocks


I clambered through some class 4 rock mixed with snow and ice, climbed up a short section of ice, and reached the crux rock step.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Happy Chimney Climbing


Credit: PellucidWombat
Climbing the First Half of the 5.6 Crux Step.

The step is about 15 ft of 5.6 climbing, but doing this section in crampons with a heavy pack made it a lot more interesting! I placed a cam to backup the hidden piton at the crux (we brought them so I might as well use them), and after a bit of stemming & mantling I was above the rock band.

We encountered one more pitch of ice above the rock and then the climb was over. It was only about noon and now we had a little under 2,000 ft of slogging up snow slopes to reach Liberty Cap, with only 1 bergschrund crossing to keep us entertained.

Liberty Cap Strikes Again

My first hint that we were in trouble was when we stopped to eat a snack after the last technical pitch. I had been concerned about moving fast earlier in the day, and as we put our packs down Anastasia said

"See Mark, we weren't that slow. The team ahead of us is right there."

The climbers ahead of us had pulled away during the first half of the route, and I doubted that we had caught up to them.

"Where?" I asked.

"Right by the seracs over there," she replied.

I saw the seracs about 100 ft away, but there was no one there. Only footprints.

"Anastasia, there is no one there."

"Yes there is. I can see them moving!"

Uh oh. Anastasia was hallucinating. I asked her how she was feeling and she admitted to feeling a bit tired and sick. I suspected that she had AMS and that we needed to get down ASAP. However, the route is not one that is descended, so our only option was to climb another 2,000 ft higher to Liberty Cap and make the mile traverse above 13,500 ft to the Columbia Crest before we could even being descending again.

To make matters worse, our sunny day had deteriorated into a mostly cloudy day, and the cloud level was at about 12,500 ft. It looked like I was in for another white-out traverse of the Cap.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Anastasia Nearing the Bergschrund Crossing After We Finished the Technical Climbing. The whiteout awaits ahead . . .

Anastasia led out as I told her my suspicions and that we needed to get up and over the mountain fast. She got noticeably slower at this point, and by the time we reached 13,000 ft she plopped down and asked me to lead on.

The higher we got the worse she got. At about 13,500 ft Anastasia started demanding that we stop and make camp and descend the next day on account of the whiteout and her feeling sick and exhausted. Although I was willing to stop with Eric on Liberty Cap, in that circumstance I knew that we could recover and be stronger for a continued descent. In Anastasia's case, I knew that if her problem was AMS, if we stopped up high we would be in even worse condition to descend the next day.

Anastasia was too tired to care much about my concern, but I got her to keep going by giving her the rest of my food and water. By the time we got to Liberty Cap we were engaged in an tough case of tug of war, and every few minutes she stopped and tried to talk me into making camp.

"We are not making camp until we at least reach 12,000 ft on the Emmons Glacier," I said. That would at least put us just below the elevation where Anastasia started having problems, and it would have us on one of the major trade routes where it would be easy to get assistance for descent if her AMS got worse. I also secretly hoped that if I got her that far we could finish the final relatively straightforward 2,000 ft descent to Camp Schurman.

For a while Anastasia agreed to go along with my demand, but as she got more tired and sick, our pace slowed, and it became increasingly difficult to keep her moving. I felt bad about being so cruel in that respect, but I felt that we would be in serious trouble if we made camp, and that if she had enough energy to complain and argue, she had enough energy to keep moving.

"Anastasia, we can rest all you need to keep moving, but we cannot stop and make camp." This worked for a while, and we spent about half the time resting as she tried to eat and drink. Eventually she stopped caring about getting down and became resistant to continuing on again. I (half bluffingly) said I would only be willing to make camp sooner than the Emmons Glacier if I called for rescue with my SPOT device and cell phone. This worked for a while longer as she was not willing to call for rescue yet and the terrain had flattened. Unfortunately it only got us to the saddle between Liberty Cap & Columbia Crest, when we had to gain another 200' to bypass the seracs that I knew were waiting for us above the Winthrop Glacier.

Anastasia was getting disoriented enough at this point that she was getting lost, despite being tied into me! The clouds were so thick she couldn't see me at the end of the rope and couldn't make sense of the rope tension. She also fell into a small crevasse as she was no longer really looking out for herself. I brought in coils, increasing the danger of one of us pulling the other into a crevasse in hopes that she could better follow me and I could better point out crevasses I found probing. I knew that if I fell into one I would be on my own, so I moved very carefully. Visibility was as bad as when I had crossed the Cap with Eric the weekend prior, and although I had our GPS track, it was still very difficult to stay on course with all of these other curve balls thrown into the scene.

After an interminable amount of time and bickering as she continued to resist pushing on, we finally reached the Emmons Glacier. For a while she improved as we descended. As I had hoped, we came across a climbing party, and although we seemed to be moving OK by this time, I asked them to tell the rangers at Camp Schurman about our situation, and that we might need assistance in the morning to finish descending.

We barely made it to 12,000 ft by sunset. By this point Anastasia was deteriorating again as she began throwing up the food she was trying to eat, and was falling down uncontrollably. After hopping across one crevasse on a slope, she fell down and almost slid into the next crevasse downhill before self-arresting. I REALLY needed a second climber to help short-rope her! I didn't want to stop with her due to her condition, but between her begging to stop again, the fall and approaching darkness, I relented and chopped out a ledge with my ice tool and set up the tent.

Fortunately, despite Anastasia being so uncooperative and me being so unsympathetic to her pleas, we made amends and Anastasia admitted that as much as I was being a jerk, she was being stubborn and it was good that we had pressed on to get to where we were. I had my first bit of food & drink since topping out on Ptarmigan Ridge 9 hours earlier (it normally takes 3 hrs to cover the same terrain) and went to sleep.

Monday – The Joys of Bottled Oxygen and Rescuers

"Mark! I'm feeling a lot worse. We have to go down now!"

I woke to Anastasia's call for help at 1am. As I had feared, 12,000 ft was not low enough for her to improve, and although the initial rest had helped, now she was feeling a lot worse. At this point I knew that we were in an easy location for calling for assistance, that daylight wasn't too long away, and it would probably be safer at this point to hold tight until daylight and send for help instead of descending.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Anastasia on Oxygen During Our Assisted Descent

Fortunately within an hour climbing ranger Nick Hall and 3 volunteers had arrived. My message to the descending climbers had reached Nick and he had decided to head up and check on us. They also brought bottled oxygen and after checking Anastastia's A&O level she was put on the oxygen. This helped her feel better and she was finally able to eat food again without puking it back up. We helped one of the rescuers into our tent while the others bivied outside and waited for daylight.

Credit: PellucidWombat
Anastasia & the Rescue Team

2 hours later Anastasia was short-roped down the Emmons on oxygen while one of the volunteers and I carried her gear and the camp down. We made it to the ranger shelter without incident and spent the rest of the day eating and hydrating. Anastasia's dizziness and nausea dissipated and by the afternoon we were released and descended to the White River trail head.

Reflections

I had been worried about whether I had taken the best action given our circumstances, as obviously I was pushing Anastasia very hard to keep moving, and we were at high risk for having an accident by doing so. It was relieving to hear from the rescuers that our decision to push forward up and over the Cap and to make it to where we did was probably the best one in a situation where there was no ideal solution. It was really good that we didn't stop higher as well because the sunny forecast for that week had changed again to a stormy one and it rained and snowed for the next several days on the mountain.

Anastasia had ascended Mt Rainier at least 4 times prior and had been above 14,000 ft on a few peaks in California, all without incident. Between her history at altitude and a moderately acclimatized ascent (one night at 8,000 ft & one at 10,300 ft), Anastasia's sudden development of AMS was a huge surprise to everyone including her.

Fortunately, we were as reasonably prepared as one could be for such an epic, we had made good decisions with what was available to us. Although she will be more wary of ascending to high altitude as fast again and may start using some Diamox preemptively, Anastasia wasn't at all deterred from her alpine passions. Two weeks later she climbed the Price Glacier on Mt Shuksan (IV, AI3 cl.4-5).

Gear Notes:
We brought 4 stubby ice screws, 2 screamers, and 2 pickets. In icy conditions like we had, 8 screws would be better for longer simul-climbing pitches and better anchors. Bring 1-3 cams of 0.5”-1” for the rock pitch (optional - fixed piton may suffice for many).

Approach Notes:
White River Approach is preferred by many since you can do a round trip from the same trailhead. However, you have a LONG traverse crossing the Winthrop and Carbon Glaciers, requiring roped glacier travel and navigating crevasses. This approach becomes harder in later season and might be impassable as the glaciers open up.

The Mowich Approach requires leaving a car at White River TH and then driving 2 hrs to the Mowich TH. However, this approach is more scenic, the lower camp has running water, and you don’t need to get out the rope until you start climbing above high camp.

Both approaches merge just before the final loose knife edge section of ridge before the high camp. This section is better earlier in the season when it still has snow cover. In later season you can drop down to the east on snow to bypass loose rock & a rock step, but by late season this might be melted out. Take care as the rock is steep & loose and a fall with a large pack could be fatal.


Just in case I didn't put in enough photos in this TR, you can see more of them here. :-P

And other reports:

Anastasia's TR on CascadeClimbers

Liberty Cap Beating #1: Liberty Ridge


Links
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PellucidWombat
About the Author
PellucidWombat is a mountain climber from Berkeley, CA.

Comments
O.D.

Trad climber
LA LA Land
  Aug 18, 2011 - 07:36pm PT
The most important thing is that everyone made it back safe & sound. Really enjoyed the photos and write-up. AMS strikes randomly -- on my first trip up Rainier I was a sick, quivering, near-dead fish on the summit, incapable of making my way over to Columbia Crest; next time, I hopped and skipped across the crater as if it were a stroll in the park.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 18, 2011 - 10:05pm PT
Thanks! Altitude is a crazy hazard to deal with that's for sure :-/
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 18, 2011 - 10:13pm PT
Nice write up wombat, I'm glad your friend ended up ok!
Some good analysis and self reflection, TFPU!!!!

Ps, - love your ST name!
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Aug 18, 2011 - 10:15pm PT

whew, good to read Anastasia is okay.

thanks for sharing your experience.
tahoe523

Trad climber
Station Wagon, USA
  Aug 18, 2011 - 10:42pm PT
Relieved to read a TR with a happy ending. Glad she is okay. Thanks for the insightful account. I dug the rock solid new partner and the beautiful pictures of Flett Glacier.

Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Aug 18, 2011 - 11:42pm PT
wow.

Here I, who has never climbed any route on Rainer, was going to give you grief about using your knees and equalized pieces on the top of chimney mantle, but then you explained the fixed pro, and then you go and, from what I can tell, make good and probably the best decisions to get yourselves out of a jam. (yes! that is all on sentence.)

I am SO GLAD you both got back OK.

(added in edit)
I moved down to Seattle from Fairbanks, and early-on went to hike up that ridge above Mowitch Lake: I and my nieces were totally blown away by that first clear view through the clouds of the NW(?) face. And nice night-time photos.
Captain...or Skully

climber
Boise, ID
  Aug 18, 2011 - 11:58pm PT
Sometimes you're the pusher...Sometimes the pushee. Sometimes there's no pushin'. Good on ya for gettin' all drill sergeant. If that's what it takes, there ya go.
Diggin' yer TRs. Big honkin' TFPU!!!
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 19, 2011 - 12:10am PT
Darwin - yeah, I placed the cam, started to look around for my first hold, and there was the piton hiding up behind the flake! I decided to, eh, be lazy and leave the cam, but clip the piton anyways, though it did feel kinda silly.

I thought of trying to high step in that corner where my knee is, but I could tell that the reach was too much with the front points of my crampons sticking out and the knee was the easiest thing to shove in there. The next move did involve bringing my right leg back and stepping just beside my knee to stand up. For some reason, whenever I am climbing alpine trad in boots and snow with a pack, I end up doing lots of knee mantels - that never seems to happen at the crags . . . :-)
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Aug 19, 2011 - 01:14am PT


re "knee mantels"

ya, me too, and even when I'm not WTFUT (way the f*#k up there)
Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
  Aug 19, 2011 - 02:27am PT
There's a good reason why any decent alpine trousers have padded knees. And it's not for praying.

Thanks! Any plans for round three?
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
ne'er–do–well
  Aug 19, 2011 - 03:53am PT
Anastasia drew first blood from her rump after slipping off one of the boulders

... nice boulders, and "rump" it is too. Props on these threads - keeping the 'topo alive and on topic.
Les

Trad climber
Bahston
  Aug 19, 2011 - 09:32am PT
wow man, another fantastic TR. you're just killin' it in the Cascades! A couple friends of mine did Ptarmigan last year, and raved about it (they got the Price on Shuksan this year, too). I really do need to get back to the Cascades next year; it's been too long.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 19, 2011 - 11:54am PT
Mighty Hiker - I have plenty of plans at this point since I was rained out of half of this year's plans for WA during my visit :-)

Priorities next year are the Price Glacier (maybe tag Baker's N Ridge while in the area), Torment-Forbidden Traverse, & Mt Stuart's N Ridge (& maybe something on Sherpa & Prussik Pks while in that area?). I think
I'll give Rainier a rest for a while, but there are some other routes on it that I'm interested in: Curtis Ridge sure looks tempting, or the central Mowich Face for some October ice. I was also thinking of maybe doing an extended trip to the west side one summer to set up camp on the Tahoma Glacier & climb Success Cleaver, Sunset Ridge, then finish with Tahoma Cleaver. I've heard the Tahoma Cleaver is longer and more 'alpine' than Ptarmigan. That seems like it could be a good long outing!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
  Aug 19, 2011 - 12:17pm PT
Forbidden, Baker - North Ridge, Shuksan and Prussik are all good outings. Not quite the scale of Rainier, but lots of fun.
James Doty

Trad climber
Phoenix, Az.
  Aug 19, 2011 - 01:29pm PT
Do you think the day she stayed at camp while you went higher taking pics contributed to her lack of acclimation?
Awesome pics.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 19, 2011 - 02:01pm PT
James,

As far as I understand it, your body's acclimatization is much more sensitive to sleeping altitude than climbing altitude, so while a difference of 1-2k' of sleeping altitude does a lot for the body, I think 1-2k' of maximum climbing altitude is far less important (though maybe 3-4k' would have a good effect!).

e.g. I was at that higher altitude on day one for only about 4 hrs (and only up to about 9,000 ft, so we weren't really high enough for the difference to be that pronounced), after which I went down and slept at the same elevation as Anastasia. On day 2 we both also slept at the same altitude and there was nowhere safe to go higher than camp, so our climbing altitudes were no higher than our sleeping altitudes that day.

I have noticed though that the higher I go, the narrower the range is between where I can comfortably sleep and where I can comfortably climb, probably as the body is less able to keep up with full acclimatization. On Denali I found it much harder to go to 20k after sleeping a few nights at 17k than I did going from 14k to 17k after sleeping a few nights at 14k.

(Edit)
One thing to keep in mind was that I was sleeping at 14,100' the week before when Eric & I chose to bivy on Liberty Cap and this left me already very well acclimatized for round 2, so I really didn't need to sleep at lower altitudes for this climb. I've found that the acclimatization benefits of climbing to 14k and sleeping high for that tend to stay around 1 wk later and even somewhat 2 wks later.
YoungGun

climber
North
  Aug 19, 2011 - 02:09pm PT
Great pics. Awesome write-up. Thanks for sharing!!
James Doty

Trad climber
Phoenix, Az.
  Aug 19, 2011 - 03:03pm PT
Thanks for the response.
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
  Aug 19, 2011 - 03:10pm PT
I liked the analytical aspects of this TR. It is hard to be the drill sergeant, but sometimes that is exactly what is needed. Glad to see no ill effects.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Aug 19, 2011 - 04:43pm PT
Nice TR. Good info about the route. I want to try it next year.

I think you produce some hormone that creates epics : )
Dave Davis

Social climber
Seattle, WA
  Aug 20, 2011 - 06:16pm PT
Great photos and report.Ptarmigan Ridge was my first trip up the Big Heap back in the early 70's and I can relate to your partner's misery.I didn't have the energy to plod the last 40 feet to Columbia Crest before our descent of Disappointment Cleaver.Glad everything turned out O.K. for you.I think that taking an extra day for acclimatization is very helpful for us sea-level dwellers.



Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Aug 21, 2011 - 09:22am PT
Rainier sure has some huge elevation gains....
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 22, 2011 - 12:18pm PT
9,200 ft from Mowich for Ptarmigan and 9,700 ft from White River for Liberty Ridge. Makes for long descent days from the carryovers too!
Studly

Trad climber
WA
  Aug 22, 2011 - 12:24pm PT
Great TR. Anastasia is a ass kicker, she'll be back in fine form.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 23, 2011 - 01:18pm PT
I think you produce some hormone that creates epics : )

Vitaly, just wait until this winter. Last year was so successful, we have to up the ante this year. ;-)

I really suggest you get a backpack that you can bivy in if you didn't like our last 2 winter campouts >:-)

Although Rainier has made me more of a fan of the carryover tactic :-)
the goat

climber
Mazama, WA
  Aug 23, 2011 - 02:47pm PT
Really liked your TR photos and route descriptions, keep it up! You were spot on getting her to the Emmons, way easier to descend with a partner in trouble.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  Aug 23, 2011 - 04:39pm PT
wow. what a story. and what photos! thank you for putting together one of the best mtneering tr's in a long time.
The Lisa

Trad climber
Da Bronx, NY
  Aug 23, 2011 - 05:03pm PT
Congrats on getting down safely, Mark and Anastasia! Love the photos and detailed descriptions.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 24, 2011 - 06:14pm PT
Chris, thanks again for the compliments. Ditto to everyone else. BTW Lisa, one of these days I gotta get you out to the Sierra on a climb. With your ultramarathon background, we could do some fun long backcountry trad days :-)
Nastia

Ice climber
Portland, OR
  Aug 25, 2011 - 06:02pm PT
Thanks all for the encouragement and input! Greatly appreciated guys!

Markie Mark. Another awesome report and amazing photography. 5 lbs of photo equipment was certainly worth it on this carryover climb. And from now on, DIAMOX for myself - to avoid the AMS hidden surprises.

Now, we need to get on something really really scary when you make your appearance in the PNW again this October. The classic ice routes await.

North Face, Hood:

Coleman Headwall, Baker:

Eliot Headwall, Hood:


As it is known, stoke does not happen by itself. Gotta bring it, man.

Aaron Mulkey on The Big Sleep, Hyalite Canyon, WI5+/6-, 4p:
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 25, 2011 - 10:10pm PT
::drool::

I think I might have to buy a plane ticket! Just give the word :-)
klk

Trad climber
cali
  Aug 25, 2011 - 10:52pm PT
great tr. one of the pnw classics.

scary situation-- party of two, one climber down with altitude sickness, and the best way out is up. you did well getting out of there. and it's good to be lucky, too.
Texplorer

Trad climber
Sacramento
  Aug 26, 2011 - 12:54am PT
Don't count on acetazolamide saving your lunch. A healthy dose of acclimitization will take you a lot further.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 26, 2011 - 04:36am PT
Yep. Nastia, keep in mind that no medication protects you as well as proper acclimatization. Some might actually make things worse because they only mask the symptoms and don't treat the sickness. So be careful! Adequate nutrition & hydration also help a lot with acclimatizing better.

Seeing all that flat snow on the approach makes me long for winter again - or lower altitude peaks! Here is some summer fun that I imagine you don't see as much in Oregon since the sun cups & neve penitentes tend to form at lower latitudes and higher altitudes :-)



avid

Trad climber
Sacramento
  Aug 26, 2011 - 05:15am PT
I think you produce some hormone that creates epics : )

LOOOOOOOOOL
Nastia

Ice climber
Portland, OR
  Aug 27, 2011 - 01:00am PT
Very cool Mark, thanks.

I would disagree re: the sun cups and penitentes though. There is plenty of those on the PNW volcanoes right now.

Better yet, ice penitentes, if you are into this sort of thing. No need for a bona fide pro, just bring a bunch of slings!


Kautz Ice chute, Rainier:

BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
  Aug 27, 2011 - 03:00am PT
Fun pics and report. Looks like the weather was mostly cooperative, too.

Pleased to read that Anastasia was able to tough it out and, with your help, get over the top and mostly down. Cool that the climbing ranger and his volunteers decided to cruise up and check on the two of you.
The Lisa

Trad climber
Da Bronx, NY
  Aug 27, 2011 - 09:29am PT
Mark, BC in the Sierras would be awesome!
Great sunup and penitente photos - it does get tiresome navigating through those fields though.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 29, 2011 - 09:26pm PT
Anastasia, that photo looks like something from my worst nightmares.
noriko nakagawa

Trad climber
sw utah
  Aug 29, 2011 - 10:11pm PT
Nice TR and photos as always, Mark.

-Michelle
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Jun 22, 2012 - 02:46am PT
An update that I feel deserves being added. Nick Hall, the climbing ranger who helped treat Nastia's AMS and assist her down the mountain, has just died on Mt Rainier while rescuing some climbers injured in a crevasse fall on the Emmons Glacier.

I can't quite put into words what I want to say or why I've added this, except to express my condolences over Nick's passing and my appreciation for all those who selflessly volunteer to go into harms way to help other climbers. May he rest in piece :-(
laughingman

Mountain climber
Seattle WA
  Jun 22, 2012 - 03:08am PT
RIP Nick Hall, sad stuff the last thing the park service needs around rainier needs.

Just goes on to remind you that Rainier is still as wild as ever and needs to be respected.

Good job getting your climbing partner part way down the mountain, sometimes being safe requires you to be a drill sergeant.


nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jun 22, 2012 - 03:18am PT
Wow, I'm sorry that such bad news triggered the re-emergence of this thread. Condolences to Nick and his family and friends. Knowing that someone who has helped you, died doing that for someone else, is definitely a head-mess-with-er kind of thing.

It does look like it was a great trip for you, and you both handled a really a hard situation quite admirably getting done what needed to get done.
uhhuh

Social climber
nevada
  Aug 8, 2012 - 05:10pm PT
Great TR and Route Choice! Thanks.

Altitude-Boukereev believed that exertion at altitude was essential to acclimatization and had the speed records without bottled oxygen to support his theory. Sleeping at altitude seems to be the fashion now but I don't know about the data....I don't believe it is anything like random. I believe things like recent illness, nutrition (particularly protein and iron), hydration and conditioning play a role in concert. As in being deficient in any of the categories will affect the result.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 8, 2012 - 05:42pm PT
Boukereev believed that exertion at altitude was essential to acclimatization

Yeah, I've heard about various ideas of the importance of 'active rest' at altitude combined with sleeping high and I think it is good to do, where feasible. 'Active rest' being activity to work your aerobic system, but not being too hard on the body so that you are still recovering from the main climbing exertions. I wish my partner on Denali did more of that, as he spent his days at 14k sleeping and reading in the tent while I got my active rest building the snow walls around the camp and doing some pre-emptive carries to higher altitude :-P
jahil

Social climber
London, Paris, WV & CA
  Aug 15, 2012 - 10:55am PT
Grat photos, glad you made it ok

steve
graniteclimber

Trad climber
The Illuminati -- S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Division
  Jun 9, 2015 - 07:02pm PT
Nice!
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Jun 9, 2015 - 07:59pm PT
I missed this the first time. As always, a quality Wombat TR!
You done good, sometimes you gotta be a meanie. BITD, when my old bud
Dusan was Head Guide they took employees up the last day of the season.
Not many wanted to go as the weather was iffy. Dusan and his #2 had
some pudgy old dude to themselves. They got to the top and it socked
in on the way down. Then the dood got sick and freaked out and froze up.
Dusan had him so short-roped that he walked behind the dood cursing
him in Czech and poking him in the ass with his axe. The guy thanked
him when they got to Muir. LOL

I have a similar story about a client but drugs were involved. Actually,
she stopped taking the drugs and therein lay the problem. But enough
about my problems.
Bruce Morris

Trad climber
Soulsbyville, California
  Jun 9, 2015 - 11:21pm PT
Dimly remember doing Ptarmigan Ridge via the ice cliff variation back in June 1969 with 3 Washingtonians and bivying on the summit of Ranier overnight in really foul weather. Stunk of sulpher in the crater. We descended back down the other side of the mountain to Paradise. Kind of a beat, but no one got sick. Interesting to note that two of my climbing partners on the ascent were killed the next year on the South Face of Mt McKinley.
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