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Avalanche on Rainier

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Postby simonov » Sun Jun 06, 2010 1:50 am

The avalanche was several thousand feet wide and ran about 1,200 feet down the Ingraham Direct Route.


Oh shit, I was there a year ago this week.

Wold said she believes the missing person may have been climbing alone.


On Ingraham Direct? Insane.
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Postby Brad Marshall » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:09 am

Sad news. Strange that it occurred at 4:45 in the morning at that elevation. Has the area been having weird weather lately?
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Postby simonov » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:15 am

Brad Marshall wrote:Sad news. Strange that it occurred at 4:45 in the morning at that elevation. Has the area been having weird weather lately?


I dunno, that's just about dawn, when things start warming up.

This photo of Little Tahoma was taken almost a year ago at about 4:35am from around 13,000 feet:

Image
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Postby simonov » Sun Jun 06, 2010 3:10 am

twoshuzz wrote:I've done the DC a couple of times but not the Ingraham Direct. There's a good amount of big hang'n ice above 12,000 on the ID. I hate to speculate on such things, but I would not be surprised if a large serac toppled and kicked off the slide sending it down the gut of the ID.


The best thing about doing Ingraham Direct, aside from it being easier than the DC, is that it's too dark to actually see what you are passing through until you are well above it.
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Postby simonov » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:59 pm

Vitaliy M wrote:How is it easier than DC? Just wondering ( I have yet to try either, but have tickets for Seattle for this comming Friday!)


The DC is a lot of mixed climbing in crampons, ID is just hiking up a glacier. Also, parts of the DC seem a lot steeper and more exposed than the ID.

Problem is, the ID usually closes by the middle of June. And depending on when you start down from the summit, and how warm of a day it is, you probably have to take the DC down anyway.
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Postby edge17 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:48 am

redneck wrote:
Brad Marshall wrote:Sad news. Strange that it occurred at 4:45 in the morning at that elevation. Has the area been having weird weather lately?


I dunno, that's just about dawn, when things start warming up.

This photo of Little Tahoma was taken almost a year ago at about 4:35am from around 13,000 feet:

Image


Yea, I was just up there, on May 30th. The weather was pretty crazy, we came up to Camp Muir in a whiteout and 40mph winds during certain parts.
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Postby KathyW » Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:02 am

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Postby lcarreau » Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:08 am

I'm sorry, but you folks are talking like this kind of thing rarely happens on Rainier.

Hey, what can you do ??? Rainier creates its own weather. It's a fact of life and death.


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Postby TedG540 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:00 am



Spiffy, I'll be there in 13 days. I hope the conditions improve.
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Postby Mountainjeff » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:29 am

Brad Marshall wrote: Has the area been having weird weather lately?


Yes, this spring has been a strange one in the Northwest. There has been above average late-season snowfall that has not been able to consolidate yet. Memorial Day weekend was bad enough to warrant an avalanche warning, which is rare this time of year. I don't think the snow has had time to consolidate since then, plus there may have been more snowfall.

My only surprise was the time at which it happened. I would have expected it to happen in the afternoon, especially with the southern exposure of the route. The temps between Muir and the summit have been reasonably cold to prevent any melting.

http://www.nwac.us/weatherdata/campmuir/10day/
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Postby Brad Marshall » Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:00 pm

Mountainjeff wrote:
Brad Marshall wrote: Has the area been having weird weather lately?


Yes, this spring has been a strange one in the Northwest. There has been above average late-season snowfall that has not been able to consolidate yet. Memorial Day weekend was bad enough to warrant an avalanche warning, which is rare this time of year. I don't think the snow has had time to consolidate since then, plus there may have been more snowfall.

My only surprise was the time at which it happened. I would have expected it to happen in the afternoon, especially with the southern exposure of the route. The temps between Muir and the summit have been reasonably cold to prevent any melting.

http://www.nwac.us/weatherdata/campmuir/10day/


The time of day is what surprised me as well. I was wondering if there had been a warming trend in the last few days or if the freezing level was so high allowing for condensation (rain) higher up lubricating the layers.
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Postby cms829 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:40 pm

I was on the Mtn in 2008...for those that remember, that spring was much like this one where the area had late heavy wet snowfalls, except in 08 it was followed by very warm temps which created massive wet heavy slides. We were almost hit by a giant skier triggered slide on the wilson and wound up assisting a splitboarder out of it. Needless to say we came off the mtn the next day.

here is a pic, if it will work? those tiny tiny black dots at the base of the slide is our party. I was fortunate enough to have someone send this to me who was on the muir snowfield that day
Image

Anyway..while this recent avy was much larger then most, it isn't anything new for Rainier. The weather is always all over the place, as are conditions as most everyone knows. This just goes to show that while this route along with the DC and Emmons is usually very crowded in comparison to other routes, it is not to be taken lightly. I believe that there is an extremely high false sense of security on these routes that should be stressed to independent climbers (Let alone solo climbers who do not have a permit let alone a solo permit to be above 10k)

I'll be on the mtn for 9 days starting saturday, Original plans were for the Fuhrer Finger. Obviously our plans have changed. The coulior is probably loaded with windblown. If the conditions arent good above 10k, there are plenty of other smaller incredible climbs within the park to get on.

Be safe out there guys, unfortunately with the current conditions, I dont think this is over...
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Postby Mike N » Thu Jun 10, 2010 4:09 pm

I was there with a few friends the day before the avalanche. Let me give some useful info. We originally went to climb Fuhrer Finger. We arrived on Wednesday and it was whiteout and rain at Paradise. Rangers said conditions had been that way for 1 week. A group that just came from Muir said it snowed 3 feet that night with 90 mph winds. Avy conditions were very high. We decided against Fuhrer Finger and instead went to Muir the next day. We climbed through the clouds and it was still very windy. On the way up, there was evidence of slide activity in The Fan, on the Wilson, and in Fuhrer finger and Thumb. Temps were not that cold.

Late that afternoon, weather once again became worse with high winds and new snow. Park rangers were saying conditions would not improve for a few days. Guides went out around Cathedral gap to assess the route. What they found was the route was completely covered over, and heavy loading of new snow. The danger around Cathedral gap is that a slide would take you into a crevasse. They did not even venture across that slope to check out the route either to the Flats or above on the Ingraham Direct. They felt the danger level was very high. Most people there that night (Thursday), including guided services, were going down Friday. There was a group of Korean climbers in the bunk house that stayed. Maybe a couple of other people.

On our way down there were many groups that were coming up in very windy conditions. There is no way the route conditions were going to improve in 24 hours. There was obvious new loading on certain slopes on top of the previous loading. On the Cowlitz there was at least a foot or two of new snow on top of a very firm layer. We even thought about the Gib Ledges. The traverse itself may have been OK, but the Gib Chute we figured must be the same high risk. Basically, nobody up there those 2 days were planning on climbing.

After we came the next day, we went to climb Chair Peak and it was great. The day was partly cloudy and Rainier could easily be seen from Seattle. Clearly, weather seemed to improve a little, though I think there were still high winds. The guides and rangers had been very pessimistic. And there was no way all that snow with the high winds was going to settle with one day of improved weather. As it turned out, even after the slide, apparently search teams could not look for the remaining missing climber due to unstable conditions.

I was very surprised to hear people were climbing. This is all we could talk about for 24 hours at Muir. Nobody felt good about the conditions. The size of the slab was huge. If I remember right it was 800 feet wide and slid 1200 feet. That has to be the width of the Ingraham direct! I can't imagine at 4:00 am in complete darkness hearing that freight train coming at you. Scary thought. What I don't know is if it was triggered naturally from above, or climbers triggered it. Either way, scary thought.

We second guessed ourselves on the way down and wondered if we missed an opportunity. After hearing this and seeing all the slide activity we saw, the decision of course was the correct one. Maybe one way to tell if you should climb is when you ask a guide or ranger what the route is like or if they are climbing, and if they have a look of fear on their face, then don't climb. Hope this adds some info.
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