Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 46.85280°N / 121.759°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 6, 1990
MT. RAINIER: LIBERTY RIDGE Another foot of powder snow fell last night. We awake to find a world of blinding sunlight above a sea of clouds that extends beyond the curve of the earth. It is bitterly cold. As we emerge from the tent, blinking in the brightness, we can see that we are camped at the very summit of Liberty Cap; fifty feet in any direction the mountain drops off in ice cliffs, rock bands and steep snow. It's so good to finally find out where we are, after so many days of storm, even though the calm will not last. Standing at the highest point, we can look down the west face of the peak to where a circular rainbow frames the mountain's shadow on the clouds. Since the stove is still iced and unusable, we head out into the morning cold without breakfast. The water bottles are frozen shut. It takes a half hour of work to put on boots and tighten the frozen laces. Columbia Crest. Whiteout: Ground blizzard and fog. We're blind. The iced, soaked rope is almost impossible to pull. A thousand feet down the Emmons Glacier, we pick up a trail of wands leading down into the clouds, wrong side of the Mountain, but down, broken crampon, but down. Skirt a crevasse, traverse, winch 50 feet of slack into the kink-frozen rope so I can move again, and look for the next wand. Tomorrow we will reach Paradise, 50 miles from the car, out of food, out of money, with the Mountain shining in the sunlight of the first clear day in a week. Tomorrow we will hitchike back to Quesadillas, beer, a hot tub, and a steak dinner. But for now, I search for a solid snow bridge across the next crevasse, chew a filthy Starburst, and look for the next wand, down into the cloud and swirling snow, out of the endless sky.


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