At the start of 2012 a few members of SMG began planning to climb the classic Dissapointment Cleaver route on the Cascasde's 14,410 ft giant Mt. Rainier. After hours of logistics and months of training including glacier travel and crevasse rescue and physical training using SMG's mountaineering training system (MTS) as a guide, our team of ten hopefuls flew to Washington on July 16th for a week of amazing experiences.
We entered the park the first night to camp and pack for three days on the mountain, given Rainier's reputation for difficult weather. On Tuesday, July 17th we left the Paradise Visitor Center to make the 5,000 ft ascent to the public shelter at Camp Muir, situated at 10,080 on the southwest side of the mountain. That evening it rained and after sunset the lower elevations were enveloped in clouds. Still we set our alarms for midnight for our first attempt.
We awoke to find mostly clear conditions with a light wind and were able to depart camp about 1:30 am, roped up as three teams. We had about 4,500 feet to ascend before the weather got worse. In the pre-dawn darkness we traversed the Cowlitz Glacier, crossed through the loose rocks at Cathedral Gap, wove through the impressive crevasses and icefalls of the Ingraham Glacier and tagged the toe of Dissapointment Cleaver, ascending crumbly rock with intermittent bands of snow. By the first raws of dawn we were standing at the head of the cleaver eyeing the massive bulk of the Emmons Glacier. Generally the team was doing well, and despite a few switch-aroos on the rope teams all were able to make steady progress to the crater rim, topping out to freezing temps, but thankfully only light wind and all clouds below us. It was a little after 8 am on July 18th.
All members present inside the crater, we took the walk of victory. Filled with elation we stepped on the actual summit and were treated with a 360-degree "100 mile" view. For some of us it was our first time on Mt. Rainier, and for a few of us it was the culmination of other unsuccessful attempts. For all it was gratifying to succeed on our first try. It was a special moment when the ten of us gathered on the summit for a team photo, knowing that every one of our climbers had pushed through the hard work and occasional doubts of past months to this moment of such sweet success.
Having completed our major objective, we decided to circle around the mountain to ascend the sharp pinnacle visible from the route called Little Tahoma, itself being a former part of the summit of Rainier. During the remaining few days we backpacked into Summerland and enjoyed a casual ascent of the lower slopes with the intent of summitting, but were shut down by rain, hail and poor visibility. By a stroke of amazing luck, we spotted elusive iceworm colonies just after sunrise and were able to collect samples for analysis by a member of our team who happens to be an evolutionary biologist. It was another of the mountain's wonders and an unexpected gift. Equally as rewarding was the incredible sunrise shining down on misty rain clouds from our vantage point on the Fryingpan Glacier, and a fun glissade back to camp.
We played tourist in the park and in Seattle a little before returning home. We all seemed to have a great feeling of accomplishment and happiness for ourselves and our team, who had the joy of planning, hard work and good fortune deliver an unforgettable experience.
Congratulations 2012 Rainier DC Route team Terrie, Olga, Art, Wayne, Florian, Kelvin, Rodney, Kevin, David, and Darren!
Video, Trip Report and Photoswww.sierramountaineeringgroup.org/news/40/mt-rainier-dc-route
About Sierra Mountaineering GroupSierra Mountaineering Group ("SMG") is a collaborative network of climbers organizing events, training and social networking in the pursuit of mountain adventure. The mission of SMG is to support and empower recreational climbers by organizing diverse year-round climbing events, on-site and online classes and training, rich and interactive social networking, and the pooling of information and resources. In short, our mission is to empower climbers like you.
Please visit our homepage at www.sierramountaineeringgroup.org for more information.