Furher Finger, Elevation 14,410ft
The South Face of Mount Rainier. Our ascent to and from camp (blue dot) is in green and our ski descent is in red. We topped out around 12,000ft.
I've always wanted to ski the Furher Finger. It's a fairly obvious line because it can be seen from the parking lot at Paradise and it's supposed to be the shortest way to the top. I had an opportunity to ski it in high school with an older friend but my parents wouldn't let me. They thought it was too dangerous.
Troy and I had to decide between skiing the resort at Whistler and skiing backcountry on Mount Rainier. The Hummels chose to spend a couple days at Whistler with their dad. Troy and I chose to climb Rainier.
We left Seattle Saturday morning and drove to the parking lot at Paradise. We were considering climbing the standard route (Disappointment Cleaver) but there were too many people and we didn't want to buy a climbing permit. Furher Finger became the obvious choice. We took a left at the turning point below Panorama Point and skied down and across the Nisqually Glacier. We carried our skis for a bit until we reached ridge below camp. We were now on the opposite side of the anthill (Muir Snowfield). I was surprised that there were no other climbers.
Troy hiking on the opposite side.
There was about a foot of new snow that had softened up in the sun. I was a little concerned about avalanches. We were safe once we got on the ridge so I stopped to take a few photos and relax. There were a few clouds blowing in and out but they eventually left and we were able to get a good view of the Finger.
Troy on the ridge below camp. Where is everybody?
We skinned the rest of the way to camp. We weren't sure how high we wanted to go but we ended up stopping near some rocks around 9,000ft. The wind started to pick up so we dug a shelter for our tent. One thing I've learned about digging shelters is that if you're not sure whether it's big enough, make it bigger. We finally managed to squeeze our tent into the adjusted hole.
Troy lounging as the sun goes down.
Troy cooks dinner inside the tent.
Sunset. Notice the tight fit.
We melted some snow for dinner and got ready for bed. The sunset was spectacular but it kept us up too late. We went to bed around 9pm and didn't wake up until 6am. Most people who climb Rainier leave camp between midnight and 2am. The main reason I leave so early is to beat the crowds. There were no crowds so we ended up sleeping in. We were hiking by 7am.
Leaving camp at 7am.
The snow was firm but we didn't put on crampons until we reached the base of the Finger. The Wilson Glacier was fairly flat and most of the crevasses were filled in with snow. The sun finally hit us as things started to warm up. Temperature was our main concern because we knew the snow would soften up later in the day increasing the risk of avalanches. We wanted to be off of the Finger before then.
Troy traverses the Wilson Glacier to the base of the Finger.
Troy at the base of the Finger.
Climbing the Finger was fairly straightforward. The only problem we had was rockfall from above. Small rocks broke loose from the cliffs as the snow around them melted. Most of them came pummeling down the middle of the chute. We tried to stay on the side to avoid the barrage. I didn't even think of bringing my helmet but it would have been a good idea.
Troy below the Finger.
Troy in the Finger (the chute).
Troy above the Finger.