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Dissapointment Cleaver Route
Emmons Glacier Route
Day 1, July 23
Our team of 13 Set out from Paradise Saturday the 23rd of July with two leaders; James Mallory and Steve Shepro. We ascended the traditional way to Camp Muir in a total white out. The clouds didn't start to break up until about 9000 feet. Our plan was to spend the first night at Camp Muir and then follow the Disappointment Cleaver route spending a second night in Ingraham Flat to acclimatize. That first night was very windy and I lay awake just barely warm enough in my 5 degree goretex down bag. I experienced a few visual distortions in my tent. I think a mix of sudden altitude, dehydration, and exhaustion were the cause of the hallucinations.
Day 2, July 24
After practicing self arrest techniques on the Muir Snow Field, we roped up and traversed the Cowlitz Glacier and scrambled over Cathedral Rocks to 11,000 feet at Ingraham Flat. That evening we rested, boiled snow to fill our Nalgenes, and prepared our gear for the soon coming early start. We would only carry essentials to the summit and leave the rest at Ingraham Flat in collapsed tents anchored by snow.
Day 3, July 25
On summit day we awoke at 12:30 AM and were moving by 1:30 AM. We scrambled up Disappointment Cleaver navigated around a few crevasses. We were rewarded with a breath-taking sunrise at about 13,000 feet. We reached the crater at 5:15 AM and the true summit by 6 AM. I was feeling nauseous and faint the whole time everywhere about 12,000 feet. Pressure-breathing and rest-stepping helped some. It was a wonderful experience but in all honesty, I couldn't wait to get back down to the thick air.
We had to leave two members of our party below the summit. One we left at Camp Muir because he had not undergone adequate conditioning and the other we left at Ingraham Flat terrified after hopping some minor crevasses and scrambling on Cathedral Rocks. He said "I know if I go today I'm going to die". On our descent we encountered one major avalanche with unbelievably giant rocks coming down Cadaver Gap from behind the beehive onto the Cowlitz glacier. Luckily we had traversed through that area half an hour before the event. Coming down from Camp Muir in one day after a summit is a long slog but there were a few nice glissade runs to break it up. Overall the success of the trip was credited to the perfect weather conditions.
A little bit of advice from one climber to another; NEVER eat Mountain House dehydrated Chili Mac and Beef on alpine ascents. Me and one other of our team made this vital mistake the night before summit day and our GI tract payed the price. All I will say is that the summit crater of Rainier is extremely exposed. There is nowhere to hide. On a good day there are usually several different teams converging in the same spot.