July 5, 2012
Our latest climb of the Kautz route on Mt. Rainier tagged the top a few days ago. Below is a trip report by IMG Guide Nick Laws.
While crossing the Nisqually Glacier on the first day we found the perfect spot to bring everyone up to speed on climbing techniques for steep snow and ice. This prepared us well for what was to come on our summit day. After training, the team moved up to the Wilson Bench at 7,400′ to make camp.
The next day dawned gorgeous and we moved up to the ridge below the Turtle Snowfield with good kick-steps. Once gaining the ridge the team moved efficiently up the ridge to high camp at 10,800′. This put is in perfect striking distance of the rock step that allows access to the Kautz Ice Chute for our summit bid the next morning.
Day 3 began breezy and clear above with a near full moon. Conditions were perfect for side-stepping up the Ice Chute with cold, firm snow. With a little route-finding on the upper Nisqually we climbed over the crater rim after 7 hours of climbing. It was a beautiful morning! With dropping temperatures and the threat of snow the team moved quickly back to high camp. After a hot meal everyone got some rest before heading back down to Paradise the next morning.
Overnight we got a couple inches of new snow, which made for great glissade conditions down much of the route. Conditions only got better as we descended out of the wind and snow until we reached Paradise to find the 4th of July blue skies already moving in.