"Last Campfires Never Die!"
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It's coming up on 25 years since I climbed Mount Rainier.
Now, let's go back to 1857. A climbing party by the name "Kautz" was
directed in their arduous one-week approach to the mountain by the Indian guide Wapowety. On July 15th the party ascended a glacier (the Nisqually)
which Kautz described "with immense furrows" and camped near timberline on
Here Kautz estimated the party would not need more than three hours to reach the summit the next day. On the climb they took homemade alpenstocks, a 50-ft rope, a hatchet, dried beef and biscuit. Climbing via the glacier later named for him, Kautz's party exhausted themselves late in the day, high on the mountain.
Kautz continued to where the mountain "spread out comparatively flat;" he
later reported that Saint Helens, Adams and Hood stood above the clouds
"looking like pyramidal iceburgs above an ocean."
Glaciers formed very early in the history of Mount Rainier, perhaps even
before the volcano as we know it today began to develop. Since the mountain
reached its present size, there have been at least five major glaciations.
"Last campfires never die. And you and I, on our way to Life's December,
will always dream by this last campfire, and have this mountain to remember."
Photo by Austin Post (1976)