TR - Mt. Rainier/Mowich Face

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Andrew McLean

Jul 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/22/97

Mt. Rainier - Mowich Face/Edmonds Headwall

It's still winter in Washington! Over July 17 - 20th, Carl Skoog, Doug
Ingersol, Armand DuBuque and I trekked up the northish facing side of Mt.
Rainier and skied the Edmonds Headwall on the Mowich face. Looking at it
from Seattle, this is the viewers right-hand skyline. The route tops out
on Liberty Cap and is to the skiers left of Liberty Ridge. Doug did some
sort of fancy weather dance and arranged for 3 days of perfect weather
(well, it rained a little one day) and perfect snow conditions. The
descent was 5,000' in all, with the lower 4,000' being some of the most
graphically exposed steep skiing I think I'd ever seen. We waited near
the top for about 2 hours until the sun had softened the snow into
perfect corn, then had about a 3 hour window before it got mushy enough
to start sluffing off.

It was definitely the most striking and beautiful line I've seen or skied
in the continental US!


Just the facts:

Approach via Enumclaw and follow signs to Mowich lake. The road is closed
until the parking lots are free of snow, yet if you wait until the road is
open, the conditions will probably be poor to terrible. Once you make it
to the trailhead, follow the trail 3 miles to Spray Park. Once there,
climb up towards Observation rock, cross over the ridge at about 8,000',
drop down to the Russell Glacier and climb back up above Needle Rock onto
the Mowich glacier. Follow this up to the base of the wall. All told,
the approach is about 5-7 miles (add another 5 if the road is closed) and
6,500' of gain. There is good camping at the base of the wall. We took
two days to get to base camp (9,000'), but it could probably be done in
one big push as well.

Climbing is pretty straight forward. It starts out with a few rolls, then
gets right onto the headwall and goes straight up 3,200' to a ridge. This
is mainly 43-48 degree climbing. Follow the ridge until you have to go
back out on the face, which is probably the steepest section of the route
at 48-50 degrees for about 500' to a ridge. Follow this ridge until it
eventually reaches Liberty Cap at roughly the 14,100' level.

Strap on skis and reverse the route. Don't fall.

Andrew McLean (
Black Diamond Equipment Ltd.
2084 East 3900 South, SLC, UT 84124 phone: 801-278-5552

DISCLAIMER: Unless otherwise indicated, this correspondence is personal
opinion and NOT an official statement of Black Diamond Equipment Ltd.

Ken Roberts

Jul 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/25/97

While I was chatting with the climbing rangers down at Camp Shurman on
Saturday, I mentioned that I had run into a couple of guys on the summit
who had climbed the Mowich Face with skis, and Mike said that it had never
been skied before.

Great work!


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