Rainier: Nisqually Ice Fall

Crevasses usually form as a result of a glacier moving across a change in slope. In the case of the Nisqually Glacier, a dramatic change in slope occurs as it slides from the summit, over a cliff and down into the valley below. The result of this transition is called the Nisqually Ice Fall.

The route up the ice fall starts from a high camp at Camp Muir (10,000 feet) and descends to the foot of the ice fall, where one faces challenging route finding through the jumble of ice to the summit (14,410 feet).

To get a feel for scale, note the skiers at the bottom left; they are not on the glacier and are MUCH closer than the ice fall. The red line only indicates the general path of the climb– the actual route through the ice fall was much more complex and varies from year to year. The break in the line shows where we descended to the glacier to cross to the ice fall. The crest where the red line ends is about 5,000 feet above us from this vantage point as we ascended to Camp Muir, so the elevation gain tomorrow will be well over a mile!

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