September 12, 2013
IMG partner Eric Simonson and I took a break from the office the past couple of days and climbed Mt. Rainier to review the new summit route.
Conditions couldn’t have been better on the mountain. I have rarely seen a better September route to the summit and my hat goes off to IMG guides Justin Merle, Dallas Glass and Ian Delaney for establishing the new route.
The trail now heads hard left from the top of the Disappointment Cleaver, traversing the Ingraham Glacier over to Gibraltar Rock. To gain the top of Gibraltar, there is a 15 foot vertical ladder anchored up against a rock outcrop to make surmounting this obstacle easy. Above the ladder, there is a great trail chopped into the steep slope protected by a fixed hand line that traverses easily to the top of Gibraltar. From here, the rest of the route goes very smoothly, zig-zagging up the smooth upper mountain slopes to the summit. Other than the one vertical ladder, there are no ladder bridges or other difficult crevasse crossings on the route. This is about as good a route as I have seen in September.
A couple of words about the route difficulties over the past two weeks… The old route heading up above Disappointment Cleaver required some steep climbing and at least one 10-20 foot ladder crossing. This was not an easy route to maintain, but was significantly hampered by the bad weather we experienced during this time. On several occasions, our parties were able to climb through the breakup, but were turned back by poor weather and windy conditions on the upper mountain. When the weather is good, like it is now, everything becomes easier. This new route variation will greatly add to our success on the mountain this coming month.
My thanks to all three guide services, IMG, RMI and AAI for working together and spending some considerable time and effort to create and maintain the route to the summit.