Day 1: Arrived in Seattle. Picked up car, went to REI and grocery store to get final supplies, picked up our mates; Ryan and Dan at the airport. Drove in the fog to Mt. Rainer National Park Paradise Parking lot (elevation 5,400-ft), fell asleep in the car around 2am.
Day 2: We woke to a lovely beeping car alarm at ~7am. Started our grueling hike for the day around 9:30am, we only had 4.5-miles to go, BUT 4,700 vertical feet to Camp Muir (elevation 10,188 feet). We arrived at Camp Muir around 3:30pm (6-hours). Practically the entire hike up was in white-out conditions, you couldn’t see anything. I felt horrible and everyone took care of me (forcing me to eat and drink water).
Day 3: This was our recovery day. The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm with little wind. This ended up being the best weather we saw and would have been our summit window, if I hadn’t been so weak. We hiked from Camp Muir, across the Cowlitz Glacier and around Cathedral Rocks to the Ingraham Flats. There were spectacular glacier crevasses and short breaks in the surrounding clouds to see some of the breathtaking views down from these heights.
Day 4: This was the night we were going to summit. The plan was to get up at midnight, gear up, and head to the top. At midnight we woke to howling winds and a flapping tent. Winds were likely around 45-50mph, so we decided to stay in the tent and try the next night. About an hour and a half later, Dan YELLED “We are going to loose the tent…” Snow was drifting, filling in around, and under the tent. The entire tent was lifting up a couple feet off the ground along the corners while filling up like a parachute. It is difficult to describe the panic that hit me at this point but I kept saying over and over that I need to relax and stay calm. We dressed to head outside, grabbed our sleeping bags, and headed to the very full Muir Shelter. We returned to the tent, dropped the pole, and threw our backpacks on the tent until the morning. Thank goodness that we were so close to protective shelter.
After a couple of hours sleep, we decided that we needed to bail on our summit attempt. Dan’s sleeping gear was soaked with water and the weather forecast for the next night was for even higher winds and colder conditions. The quick return hike to Paradise took just 2 hours, again in white-out conditions. Lovely…