Party: Mountaineers - Leader Ross Prather, Rope Leaders:Daryl Williams and I. Climbers: John Burroughs, Laura Prather, Tracy Schryer and three other basic students.
Route: The Quien Sabe Glacier... dont ask me how to pronounce it.
Weather: Well, my second time into the Boston Basin area (see Forbidden Peak ) with the same weather forecast: rain on approach day followed by better weather on summit day. We hiked in on Sunday and sat out the evening in our tents due to the rain. We all had pretty low expectations of having good weather, let alone awesome weather on Monday. When I woke up Monday morning, I don't think I've ever been so inspired. I was frantically anxious to get going and wished we had gotten up earlier (it was 4:45AM).
There was another mountaineers party there, led by Cebe Wallace. They got an earlier start than us, but we caught up to them several times. When we got to the col, Cebe decided that was the summit for his party.
Ross decided we should head up the ridge to the next snow field and check it out. This first ridge was snow and ice with a fine bit of exposure. He placed one picket on the way for us to all clip through.
The final ridge to the summit was pretty intimidating. I was surprised that everyone was gung-ho to finish it. The summit ridge was mixed snow and rock. The snow didn't look very good to me either, but it turned out to be ok. The last 10 feet to the summit was steep bare rock that meant a good introduction to climbing rock, with limited protection, wearing crampons. It was pretty exciting looking stuff.
We took turns as rope teams doing the summit. There isn't enough room on the route or the summit for more than one rope team. Ross led his rope team up and then down. He place two pickets along the way in the snow, but the final rock finish would have been a messy fall. When Ross led it, it didn't look all that comfortable, so I was losing my composure watching and thinking about the downclimbing... in crampons. My rope team went last, so the steps up the snow ridge were pretty comfortable and easy. The rock pitch (10 ft) was also surprisingly easier than I expected, good holds, good foot placements; though you did have to stick the crampon points into a thin crack/ledge to make it.
All in all, it was a pretty bold venture for a basic level climb in these conditions. I've done things like this a couple times before, but not in the basic course. The students on our climb really got a good experience and deserved the summit. Yes, the views were spectacular!!! Views of everything from Rainier to Baker and beyond and everything in between. The trudge back to camp in the basin was un-enjoyable. The snow was softening and I was post holing knee deep every step. There aren't any good glissade slopes on this glacier either... so we had to walk the entire way. I think the glissading opportunities would improve with better snow, but there is still a lot of walking.