This is a great route to experience Mt. Rainier. Youíll start low, in an old growth forest, working your way up valley to tree line and meadows. Soon youíll be above the vegetation zone on a moraine, getting ready to step onto the Inner Glacier. The Inner Glacier has few crevasses so not everyone ropes up for it. Youíll climb 2,200 feet up the glacier to a ridgeline on top of the glacier. If your team is not roped up, you will now when you drop 300 feet onto the Emmons glacier. A short climb of 200 feet and youíre at Camp Sherman, 9,500 feet. Camp Sherman is much roomier than Camp Muir. Camp can even be placed far enough away to avoid the noise of the earliest arisers. The park has a rangers hut and restrooms as well at Sherman.
The first time on this route I was hit by some bad food poisoning at Camp Sherman. Instead of resting, eating and hydrating the evening before the climb, I was standing in line at the toilet for my turn. I would get done and just get back in line. By the time it was my turn again, I had to go (it was a busy 4th of July weekend). I tried to climb the next morning but around 12,000 feet I had nothing left. I had lost all the water and food in my body the day before. Luckily, I was with fellow climbers with experience. I just unhooked and said "see you back at camp, I'm done".
The second attempt, I was "guiding" with a fellow Denali partner and 2 of our climbers needed to go down. They hit their limit around 13,000 feet. Although I was in wonderful shape having a great trip, I offered to take them down in order to exit the trip early making it home for an engagement.
With my third attempt, we had success. The pictures on this page are from this trip. My brother informed me he was climbing Rainier with some less experienced climbers. Not wanting his death on my conscious, I joined that trip. What makes the route so nice is the ability to easily pass other climbers. Because of the slow nature of glacier climbing and the long rope teams, it can take up to 30 minutes to get a rope team of 4 past another team of 4. Most groups want to keep moving to stay warm. A steeper route or one with more switchbacks is sure to be a rope management nightmare as the 2 groups fight for the same climbers trail. On the Emmons, the route allows for much more passing room throughout the climb. This route also has little if any rock or icefall danger. Helmets are often not used.
The only event on the trip with my brother was when we began our decent. One of the climbers whose experience I didnít know fell. He flailed his ice axe around coming to a stop by some other means. I stopped everyone, worked my way down to him and yelled, "If you donít do exactly as I say you are going to die". Maybe this was a bit dramatic but if he didnít take my crash course on ice axe use, he could have dragged his rope partner down as well.
Mt. Rainier - Emmons Glacier - Camp Sherman Route
White River Parking Area
Three mile trail in the forest
Treeline, looking toward the start of the Inner Glacier
Gearing up for the snow
The Inner Glacier, climbers visible in center
Ranger hut at Camp Sherman
Campsite at Camp Sherman
Looking up at the summit from Camp
Reaching the top of the Inner Glacier
Nearing the Inner Glacier
Sunrise, Camp Sherman is on left side of picture at base of rocks
Looking down into the crater from Columbia Crest
Taking a break, enjoying the view
Working our way up
First light over Little Tahoma
Arrival on this route isn't too far from true summit
On the crater rim
www.WillhiteWeb.com: Hiking, Climbing and Travel
Taking a break