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Rainier with minimal glacier travel

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Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby Homestarhiker » Tue May 14, 2013 6:02 pm

Hello all,
Rainier has been on my to-do list for a while and every summer I think about trying to climb it. What has stopped me every year is that:
1) I don't have enough experience with glaciers to make an attempt without someone else who has a better idea of what they're doing
2) I don't have any friends with that experience (in spite of all the other wonderful things here, northern Idaho is short on glaciers)
3) I'm a poor college student who can't really afford to hire a guide.

I was talking with someone about it recently and they pointed out that there actually are routes on Rainier that don't require much glacier travel. Success Cleaver is the one I've been looking at. The page says there are two. Does anyone know what the other is?

I'm thinking about making an attempt by the Success Cleaver route with a friend, but I'd like some input from people who know the route/mountain better than I do first. My friend and I are both experienced climbers on rock/snow and I've climbed several higher mountains in Ecuador. The only part I'm unsure about is the last half mile before the summit where the route crosses the glacial cap. Is anyone here familiar enough with the route to offer any advice? If we go it would be early in the season, probably by the middle of June.

Thanks
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby Alasdair » Tue May 14, 2013 8:17 pm

Yea, You will find crevasses up there also. Any time you have a glacier that moves around exposed rock you are going to get crevasses. There are a lot of crevasses up near the summit of rainier where the glaciers move downhill from the summit. If you do get into a crevasse on Sucess cleaver, you will be on your own and have no one to help you out. Why not spend some time learning some crevasse rescue? You could spend a much smaller amount and take a glacier skills class with a guide, and then go climb rainier on your own.
http://www.alpineinstitute.com/catalog/ ... se-rescue/

3 Days of instruction with a guide.

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby Homestarhiker » Tue May 14, 2013 8:39 pm

That's what I was afraid of.

Right now even the cost of a glacier course is pretty steep for me. It looks like I'll have to wait for another year or two.
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby Alasdair » Tue May 14, 2013 10:30 pm

Did you try this:

http://www.uidaho.edu/studentaffairs/ca ... or-program
They must have some resources and folks who like to climb.
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby Homestarhiker » Tue May 14, 2013 11:15 pm

I've never heard of them offering a glacier course. They do have photos from Rainier on their website though. I'll go talk to them about it.
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby Josh Lewis » Tue May 14, 2013 11:21 pm

Trust me Homestarhiker, I've been there before. 8) I'm sure the Success Clever is your safest bet for dodging crevasses, but lets not forget the rock danger that is now included in your package deal of the SC route. So why not try asking folks if they are willing to help you learn crevasse rescue on your quest for Rainier? Assuming you have the time. Here's my advise, go to your local library and borrow freedom of the hills (either the 6th, 7th, or 8th edition depending on what you can get). Skip straight to the chapter that talks about z-pulley and self rescue. Regardless to what route you take up on Rainier, you should rope up. A friend of mine (well known here on SP) had a climbing partner who fell in a crevasse and got injured on Rainier. :? It's serious business up there. Someone once told me "Going up a Glacier unroped is like driving without a seat belt. Yeah your most likely not going to fall it, but when the time comes it will save your life!". Especially on a non popular route were there is a really good chance of no one knowing where you fell in except for your partner who is unroped goes running down the mountain for help. Not a pretty scenario. I could give you more examples but you get the point. 8)

Have you tried partner sections of Cascade Climbers, Nwhikers, or even SummitPost? (for asking to do crevasse rescue) If one fails, try them all. Be as honest as possible but also let them know what experience you have. Let them know your willing to take extra steps in learning in advance (I hope so anyways). Any local climbers? It's a lot easier to have someone show you how to tie a knot, but if worse case comes down you can figure it out with books and online resources. The most important ones are the prusik, figure eight, butterfly (if you have a third or forth partner), clove hitch, and a few others for safety situations. Water knot and double fisherman for the webbing and cord.

And if all else fails, you have me to ask. I can provide further advise, and perhaps help you on your journey. I too want to do the Success Clever after all. :)
My Websites: Alpine Josh · Alpine Ascent · AceMaps
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby kozman18 » Wed May 15, 2013 1:51 am

You can learn some rudimentary crevasse rescue skills without a crevasse (and without snow). Like Josh said, grab a copy of Freedom of the Hills. Get hold of an old rope and practice setting up an anchor and hauling systems. Learn how they work, what you need for gear (biners, pulleys, cord), what knots are required, etc. I use a boat anchor (hung off a pulley on a tree limb) as a dead weight for practice in the summer.

This type of practice won’t simulate everything -- especially the difficulty in setting an anchor while holding your climbing partner (who has fallen into a crevasse). But, it will give you a leg up when you get on snow or near a crevasse to practice the “real” thing -- should accelerate the learning curve.

Good luck -- Rainier is a great mountain.
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby lcarreau » Wed May 15, 2013 5:02 am

You could WAIT another 50 years and let global warming run its course ... kidding!

Books ... you gotta read books. I (personally) discovered this poem while reading my first mountaineering book ...

"If a dream meant anything to me,
Would it seem a bold reality ?

If I knew my hand of fate,
Would I do or hesitate ??"
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby Alasdair » Wed May 15, 2013 5:53 am

One more thing. Sometimes, even when you do everything right on Rainier, you can still get into trouble. I did.

http://alasdairturner.com/imported-2013 ... s-ago.html
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby mountainsandsound » Wed May 15, 2013 2:24 pm

A guide is not necessary for learning crevasse rescue. I would rather have a self-taught partner that is willing to put in a couple days of practice with me every season than someone who "already knows that stuff" because he took an official course a couple years ago. You can learn the basics from books and setting up haul systems in your living room, then learn the rest in situ at a snowbank with a like-minded, motivated partner. That second part is critical- things like setting up an anchor from prone position, how wet and cold you actually get dangling in a crevasse, and how serious of a problem the rope cutting into the crevasse lip often is- a book just won't do those justice. You already know ropes and knots from rock climbing, so if you are a motivated self-learner you should be fine. Having said that, it is nice to have some oversight from a more experienced climber (guide, friend, friend who happens to be a guide, friend's oldschool hardman dad, etc...) to chime in every now and then and point out things you may have missed.

Speaking of books, FOTH is fairly basic when it comes to crevasse rescue. The Z pulley is the only haul system covered in any depth with that book. "Alpine Climbing" by Cosley/Houston has a cool chapter on crevasse rescue and glacier travel (and lots of other good info as well).

One more thing to add- when learning the ins and outs of hauling systems, snow anchors can seem like an afterthought. Matching the appropriate anchors for the given snow conditions is important. Three people were severely injured last year in Washington when, over the course of crevasse rescue practice in an actual crevasse, their anchor failed and all three went into the crevasse.
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby ExcitableBoy » Wed May 15, 2013 3:52 pm

First off, trying to climb Rainier while avoiding glaciers is a bit like climbing El Capitan without doing any rock climbing. You kind of miss the whole point of it. If you are going to do Rainier, put in the effort and learn glacier travel and crevasse rescue. It is not rocket surgery, but you better have your stuff down.

So far you have received some really good advice. Since you have ruled out hiring a guide to teach you crevasse rescue, you can certainly do the self taught thing. Someone mentioned finding partners to take you up. If you can find a qualified climber who is willing to take you up, you are golden. My experience is that the climbers who are qualified are not interested in doing the standard routes, and the climbers who are interested in doing the standard routes lack experience.

You can reasonably teach yourselves glacier travel and crevasse rescue if you dedicate yourself to research and practice. FOTH, as mentioned, is pretty basic but still has good info. Andy Selter's book, Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue goes into more detail.

Get your partners together and practice one skill a day until you have it down cold. Hang a rope from a tree or a cliff and practice prussiking with the rope you plan on climbing on. You will dial in the diameter of the prussiks you need and the length of the prussiks.

You can hammer pickets into the campus lawn (tell anyone giving you grief you are doing physics research) and work out the mechanics of the various haul systems. Load up a duffel or backpack with weight to simulate a fallen climber. Rotate through so everyone has plenty of practice being on the end and the middle of the rope - the responsibilities are different. Obviously the real deal will compound the difficulties; rope jammed in the lip, crappy snow, weak anchors, etc.

Get out to the local ski hill and practice setting and testing anchors in snow of various consistencies. Practice with pickets, flukes, bollards as well as improvised deadmen like ski poles, buried stuff sacks filled with snow, even a heavy partner in a deep hole if the snow will hold nothing else. Plan for contingencies. What will you do if the rope is hopelessly stuck in the lip? Did you allow enough rope in the coils to drop down a free end after padding the lip? Test various systems and know what the strengths and limitations of each one is.

Plan to climb Baker before your trip to Rainier and run through your systems a few times including setting and testing anchors before making a summit attempt. This will give you practical experience with rope management, glacier navigation, exposure to similar climbing situations as well as some acclimatization.

Here is an article on SP with additional information on Rainier that you may find useful: http://www.summitpost.org/so-you-want-t ... ier/507227
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby Snidely Whiplash » Wed May 15, 2013 5:20 pm

homestarhiker wrote:'m thinking about making an attempt by the Success Cleaver route with a friend, but I'd like some input from people who know the route/mountain better than I do first.


Success Cleaver is supposed to be just brutal. First of all, the approach takes multiple days now that the West Side Road is closed. The climb is much, much longer. And finally, you've got that awful rock to contend with, which is much more hazardous than walking on glaciers. A good reason why this climb is seldom, if ever, really done. Finally, down climbing it is probably even more dangerous. I would think that most people would just climb down the other side to Paradise, which means you still need to have the glacier skills.

ExcitableBoy wrote: First off, trying to climb Rainier while avoiding glaciers is a bit like climbing El Capitan without doing any rock climbing. You kind of miss the whole point of it.


Exactly.
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby Matt Lemke » Wed May 15, 2013 9:01 pm

I have a really nice powerpoint slideshow as well that shows detailed instructions how to set up a z pulley system if you want me to forward it to you.

Reading FOTH is probably the best way to start...that's exactly what I did
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby brrrdog » Tue May 21, 2013 6:07 pm

First, I'm not on here all that often, and don't know him well, but ExcitableBoy has helped me in the past, so I'm happy to see his posts are once again back to showing that he's an extraordinary asset to the climbing community (as are the others here). Welcome back excitable.

I live in Michigan - to say we have mountains would be pushing it. The majority of my practice happens in the basement, in a tree, and on a frozen lake. and I'd say there is a lot that you get from self studying that you don't get from instruction. Self study can (and probably should) lead you down different paths with choices that probably only you should answer. The struggle is the most important part of this process. It burns in WHY you do something and why you don't. An instructor has already decided these things for himself. I'm not saying you shouldn't take an instructors word but making technique your own should help the process of turning something from brain memory into muscle memory. I'm not saying you should event your own technique, but I went thru at least 3 books and all had variations.

My favorite by far was Glacier Mountaineering by Andy Tyson. While it can be a bit disjointed, the illustrations are excellent - both entertaining and more detailed than any other book. FOTH is actually my least favorite. A great all around reference book, but technique related to glacier travel was spread over too much of the book for me and the illustrations don't even come close.

The following were also fairly eye opening when it came to anchors (the chances of me digging a t-slot dropped pretty low):
http://alpineclub.org.nz/system/files/Snow_Anchor_Report_2005.pdf
http://www.alpinerecreation.com/pdf/Snow%20Belays%202005.pdf

An an attempt to stay on topic and not stray to something that should be in the technique forum, a little research finds multiple sources that say "success" is a tough down climb. Concerns? Very nice looking approach though.

Good luck. My plan is to attempt Rainer myself next summer.
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Re: Rainier with minimal glacier travel

Postby clmbr » Thu May 30, 2013 12:48 am

All good advice but you think all people on the (two) standard routes (and not only) have all these suggested knowledge, skills and preparations?

Why don’t you just get a buddy, rope, ice axe, helmet and crampons (the minimum requirements to get the permit) and just go there following the snow path (yes, snow path) and dozens of other climbers. Perhaps you will be as lucky as most of these people and then spreading to the world you did it. Oh, I forgot, just in case if no one is in front of you, learn what the crossed wands mean to avoid open crevasses, and good luck, the only factor you may count on. But as I said most who have attempted that way Mt Rainier have been lucky. Just don’t blame me if you become a statistic.

You still have to pay for the permit and somehow get to the park (additional fee).

This is sarcasm even though true!!!
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