Wednesday, April 25, 2007


The Seattle PI has a great article on why, and how people climb Mt Rainier. I climbed it, and summited it, on Father's Day 1999, right before I moved to Seattle from Portland. It was definitely one of the hardest things I've done, and I've gotten it out of my system and don't want to every do it again, but I'm glad I did it.

I remember the long slog up from the parking lot with a pack of gear that stuck up over my head. When the trail went from dirt to snow you felt the seriousness kick up a notch. When you laced up the crampons you realized it was serious stuff. Needing to use, not just
having, all the spikes, and ropes and axes and harnesses is interesting. It's validating and solid. We spent the second day at 11,000 feet camping just past Camp Muir to avoid all the hikers stacked up there who'll descend the next morning, and all the group tours that slog along like chain gangs from there. We were at Ingraham Flats and we were there for a while too. We waited all the next day, just looking out over the foothills, reading the book we each brought, for exactly this wait, and trying to nap until midnight, when the cold took back the snow and hardened it up making it safer, but not safe, to walk on for our summit attempt.

Leaving camp at 1am with only headlights on was odd. Pitch black, roped together, wind shoving us around. A nerve racking walk across a flat ladder, laid down over a crevasse, pumped adrenaline into our veins, but we keep our minds on task and would cheer for the small victories later once we were all safe at home. The summit came up exactly like you'd imagine. At the top of a steep slope (50 degrees ascent at least) there we were. Round ice, like big gravel lay all over, and it felt odd to walk flat. The view was great, but I don't recall it much as it really was the journey that made the excitement. A few minutes, some water, and we headed down again as the sun rose over the Northwest and another team of tour guide climbers followed our tracks on their ascent, still about 200 yards below us. We had been to 14,410 feet and had climbed Mt Rainier.

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