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Routes on Rainier

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Routes on Rainier

Postby RyderS » Fri Apr 08, 2011 6:15 am

I've been looking at a veritable feast of routes all over Mount Rainier, and I've been curious about Curtis Ridge, seeing as its a pretty prominent feature boxing in Rainier's north face. SP doesn't have a page for it, nor does the rest of the Internet have much info on Curtis Ridge as a route. Is it simply not a viable rock route because of the rock quality on Rainier? Obviously, nearby Liberty Ridge is a classic, so climbers obviously tend toward it, but does anyone know about the climbing viability (or lack thereof) or Curtis?
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Re: Routes on Rainier

Postby Mountainjeff » Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:20 am

If it is anything like the rock on the rest of the mountain, it is going to be a horrible choss-fest plus a good dose of ice-fall. I imagine there are good reasons it is not a route.
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Re: Routes on Rainier

Postby jordansahls » Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:32 am

If you haven't found this already here is a trip report from 1998:
http://cascadeclimbers.com/trip-reports ... 1998-5340/
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Re: Routes on Rainier

Postby sneakyracer » Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:02 pm

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Re: Routes on Rainier

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:43 pm

I have attempted Curtis Ridge and have friends that have sent it http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthr ... ber=578246, but they are very, very strong climbers and one of them took a leader fall on the route (the other fellow recently made the second winter ascent of Mt Huntington, in a day). The rock on Rainier is generally horrible, but the crux rock pitch, which has gone free, is on reportedly decent rock. Some parties take the Wickwire variation which avoids the rock crux in favor of water ice.

Curtis Ridge is one of the more difficult and seldom climbed routes on Rainier. The Roskelly/Lowe route on the Sunset Amphitheatre Headwall is the only route I can think of that is more difficult on Rainier. One SPer, a strong ice and rock climber from Colorado took one look at the easier Ptarmigan Ridge and declared the route to be too dangerous for him. (Two partners of mine climbed it a couple of days before). My point is, if you have never done Rainier before, you may want to try something more reasonable before spending the time/money/effort to get shut down. If you do Curtis Ridge, I would recommend doing it as early as possible so that the rock is frozen, decreasing rock fall.

The White River Road (the best approach) typically opens Memorial Day weekend. I would plan to go as soon as the road opens and the weather forecast is decent. When I attempted it, we followed the footsteps of two experienced climbers from Colorado who were attempting Liberty Ridge. They came in the day before us. We turned around due to bad weather, the Colorado guys were already on LR. One of them died, a friend was the medic in the helocotper who retrieved the body.

Take home message: Curtis Ridge is a BFD, don't take it lightly. If the mountains you list on your profile are the sum total of your climbing experience then you have absolutely no business going anywhere near the North side of Rainier. Stick to the Emmons.
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Re: Routes on Rainier

Postby SKI » Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:22 pm

+1 for EB's post.

The description I have concerning the ridge has it labled as a "Death Route."

Definitely shoot for the Ptarmigan, Lib Ridge or the Kautz if you feel you have good enough ice/rock skills to fit the bill. Otherwise, the DC or Ingrahm may be the better option for a chance to cross the half-mile wide summit crater at the top.
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Re: Routes on Rainier

Postby SKI » Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:23 pm

Oh yes, and the "Fuhrer Finger" is a good option as well.
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Re: Routes on Rainier

Postby fatdad » Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:28 pm

The OP's profile doesn't show any discernible experience to justify even the Ptarmigan or Liberty Ridge. I think EB's comments are dead on.

The the OP, Rainer is a big mountain, with a big mountain feel and big mountain satisfaction no matter how you summit. I've only done it once by the DC. My partner and I went up with the intent of climbing a harder route. We both had lots of waterfalls and couloirs under our belts, 30+ years of rock experience between us, climbed 5.12 trad, El Cap, etc. He had even climbed some peaks in the Andes and trekking peaks in Nepal.

Long story short, it was the end of the season and only route passable was the DC. We climbed it and had a blast. Even then, it took a fair bit of judgment and experience to make it safe, e.g., the upper slopes were so icy you couldn't have self arrested, so we unroped with the knowledge that if we slipped, we died.

It's important to guage both difficulty and objective danger. Alpine projects can be different than pure rock ones in that your progress may not be barred by technical difficulty, and you may be lured into something you cannot safely retreat from. Don't get me wrong. Go and climb Rainer. It's awesome. But be modest in your approach so you'll return safely to climb it again.
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Re: Routes on Rainier

Postby RyderS » Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:59 pm

@Fatdad: I was honestly just interested in the idea since I've seen Curtis Ridge in a lot of Rainier photos. I checked in with a friend of mine in Portland who's been up Rainier, and he didn't know either. But this is just a side note.

Yeah, I have not updated my profile in a while. I have picked up a lot more time in the mountains since my last update (winters in the High Sierras, Presidential Range, among others). I've already had my epic (it's actually posted as a TR in my profile), so trust me: I have no intentions of overdoing it. But I still appreciate people keeping me honest, though.
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Re: Routes on Rainier

Postby fatdad » Sat Apr 09, 2011 12:16 am

No offense intended RyderS. You just get people of varying experience on this site. Just didn't want anyone to get hurt.

All this climbing information on the internet is kind of a double edged sword. One, there's so much more information available nowadays that it's pretty easy to find info on just about anything and off you go. Two, since that info is so available, you don't have to use the older method of getting to know an area and/or consulting with the locals, who you probably knew anyways and could gauge your experience/skill accordingingly.

As we like to say, be safe and have fun.
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