Jeff had told me he was interested in climbing something in the Cascades while out rock climbing in the midwest a year ago so, he was the first to come to mind when I got the urge to climb Rainier again. I asked him and that was all that was needed to get him on board. We had tried to get a third but, no one was willing. We went to Colorado in July to practice on some snow because we can't practice mountaineering skills too much in Chicago.
After Colorado we felt we worked well together and were ready for "The Challenge of Rainier".
The plan?? Show up and climb the D.C. if weather is good.
Arriving at Paradise
We landed in Seattle at 10:30 am with all our gear intact from airport security and picked up the rental car and south on the 5 by 11:30 am. Clear skies and no clouds had us very happy with great views of Rainier. The drive up to Paradise only had one big event that was note worthy. I eat at a Jack in the Box for my first time ever!!!! We don't have Jack in the Box in Chicago. It wasn't bad but, it was still fast food. We stopped at whittaker mountaineering for some white gas and we finally showed up at paradise around 2:00pm. We stopped at the rangers office got our permits and we were off on the trail at 3:00pm.
The Muir Snow Field
We started up late but, we knew we could make camp muir before dark. Heading up we saw many climbers and day hikers still coming down and everyone was raving about the weather. We saw one day hiker (lightly speaking) in a short skirt and running shoes with a great set of legs to show trying to glissade in one of the many shoots on the trail. It was a nice sight to see. We or at less I was happy the trail was almost all snow due to an epic spring snows and it was wanded by the nps!! The was going great and we were making great time taking a break every hour. We still had great weather with winds but 5-10mph and some low clouds over the muir snow field. As we made our way onto the real Muir Snow Field the clouds we saw earlier were gone the route to Camp Muir was wanded too!! We had it easy for sure.
We made it to Camp Muir just as it was getting dark and the word was that there was plenty of room in the nps hut. That sounded good when we got there I was talking to a group biviwacking just below the hut they had BEER!!!
I was shocked! Thats a lot of weight to carry up. They told me another group gave them the beer and they offered my one. Well, I thought it would have been an insult to say no so, we had a beer to drink with diner!!! This trip was getting better with every step. We have a wonderful sun set and great weather the whole way up and now we have beer.
A rest day
So waking up in Chicago and sleeping at Camp Muir the same day took a lot out of Jeff and I some we had planned a rest day and practice alittle more on the snow field building a 3:1 just in case. For most of the day we boiled water and rested. We planned to get up at 11:00pm and on the trail by 12:00am. once we had our water boiled and bottled, our gear all set, and some food in us we tried to sleep.
Jeff's alarm woke me up and the rest of the hut I think because everyone else got up too at 11:00pm. We heated some water had a little breakfast and off we went. We were moving slow, so we wanted a good head start. There was almost no wind this was very different from my last summit. The rangers were saying there was a 30% chance of precip. On the way up once we made it through Cathedral Gap we could see some heat lightning but, the skies were clear and my stars!! There were more stars than I've ever seen. We tried taking breaks every hour when we could and before we knew it we were at the top of the cleaver. Jeff was moving a little slower than me, so I had to remind my self to keep a good pace so I didn't wear him out.
We saw groups passing us going up and a few going down while we took a break on top of the cleaver. It was still dark and I think it was 3:30am. I thought that was good timing as long as the weather holds. The well traveled boot path and wanded route was easy going and only one or two crevasses to cross that we saw anyway. Higher up the emmons had a large crevasse blocking the route so we had to take a long route around it. By this time the sun was coming up.
The last section went easy with little to no wind no clouds up high. A layer of lower clouds had moved in around the mountain and surrounding peaks. This was awesome!! We had a great sun rise and we felt great once we hit the crater rim.
We dropped our packs and took the short hike to the true summit for our pics and we back to the crater for some needed rest.
I'm going down down down
As we all know we only made it half way so going down it was heads up time more than the way up. A little before the cleaver I was praying for some wind. We were getting cooked and I was out of sun screen. Thanks to Jeff he let me use some of his. We made it down to the cleaver for a break and some needed water. Looking down below the cleaver was saw the large ice fall we had to cross below and I got a few butterflies in my stomach. So we took a little longer at our break to rest up because there was nowhere to rest till the ingraham flats. We could hear rocks falling somewhere on the mountain but couldn't spot them so when we got to the ice fall we just kept moving till we hit the tents for a break and then on to Camp Muir. We were going to go down in the morning but more groups stared showing up at Muir so we decided to go down and free up some space. Again I was praying for wind because there was none at muir or the snow field. My prayers were answered once we went down into the clouds. There was a little breeze the clouds blocked the sun from cooking us but, now we couldn't see nothing. Small trade off because the route down waneded well.
it ain't over yet
We made our way along the never ending line of wands to the visitor center that just appeared out of the clouds. This was a welcoming site but, as an older, wiser, and all around better climber than me said"It ain't over till you see the soap between your toes in the shower. We had a few things on our mind beer and food. We drove into Ashford hit a good bar for both and then on to seattle for our showers the end.