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After doing Mount Shasta in California last year, our small group of mountaineering friends decided to climb Mt. Rainier this year. The team consisted of Alex, Andy, Jeramy, and myself. Months of planning, training, and prep work were performed, and we decided we would climb it in July, via the Dissapointment Cleaver. The gear list is as follows:
- This gear we split up the weight.
Four season tent (Nemo)
9.5mm climbing rope
20 degree sleeping bag
Thermarest foam pad
Camera (extra batteries for these)
First Aid kit including pain killers
Ear plugs and blindfold for sleeping
4 Locking biners
2 Quick draws
Black Diamond mountaineering axe
1 Black Diamond ice screw
Black Diamond snow crampons
Petzl Meteor climbing helmet
Petzl rescue pulley
RAB down sweater
2 pairs of Smartwool socks
1 techwicking t shirt
1 set of techwicking long johns
2 Pairs of gloves
Scarpa double plastic mountaineering boots
3 Mountain House meals ( the better choice for meals)
1 Backpackers Pantry dessert (the better choice for desserts)
2 Shot Blocks
2 GU packets
1 Bag of twix (snack size)
1 MSR Mountain towelette
The Ascent of Mt. Rainier
We arrived at camp Muir at 10:00. The weather was foggy so we hadn't seen the mountain on the whole ride in. We checked in with the ranger regarding the weather conditions, and got our permits. We were geard up and ready to hike at 11:30. The first mile is all paved, but it is welcomed by our newly overloaded backs. After a couple miles you hit multiple snow fields and switchbacks. Around Panorama Point, we saw a large marmot the size of a small dog, pretty epic! Once we were on the huge snowfield to camp Muir, it got cold and windy. The hike was a slog, especially getting stuck behind multiple large, guided groups. Their pace wasn't terrible, so we decided not to pass them. We arrived at camp Muir at around 3:30pm, wioth enough daylight left to set-up camp. We cooked dinner, melted water, relaxed, and enjoyed our first sunset on Mt. Rainier.[img::alignleft:small:]
We got up at 9:00am to perfect weather, and cooked a nice breakfast. After breakfast, we introduced ourselves to the many parties setting up camp. We got some beta on the route from the ranger st ationed at camp Muir. We decided we wanted to go over some creavsse rescue, so we roped up and headed for the glacier neighboring camp Muir. We found a decent sized crevasse with a nice ledge/snow bridge and lowered members into it. We all took turns lowering into it and setting up 3:1 and 6:1 ratio pulley systems with different anchor options. [img::alignleft:small:] We cooked dinner and were in bed by 6:00pm for an alpine start summit attempt. Bringing the earplugs and the bandana to cover my eyes was so worth it, and i slept soundly.
We awoke at 1:00am and were ready to go by 2:00am. We roped up and got a good spot with no one in front of us in the conga line of headlamps. it was rather a sight to see looking back and seeing an army of headlamps marching in your path. we reached Ingraham Flats in under two hours, negotiating a couple small crevasses. Once on the Disappointment Cleaver, navigating was tough, being the first in line with no one to follow. This part of the route is very chossy, so you have to make sure to keep your distance behind climbers. We reached the top of the cleaver and enjoyed our first sunrise on the mountain. At the top of the cleaver, the extremely steep, switch backed trail leading to the summit lies before you. We rested for a bit, and Andy complained of fatigue and a headache. He took some advil, drank some water, and said he was good to go.
The trail to the summit is very steep, and the boot pack is well worn. Almost as if someone had taken a narrow snowblower to the top, although I'm not complaining. On a couple of really steep sections the RMI has some snow pickets for a running belay, but we chose not to use them. At about 13,000 feet Andy stopped and wasn't looking good. We pulled over and Andy couldn't speak clearly without gargling. It was clear he wasn't going any farther. With a team of four, we decided to split up; two going up and two going down. Alex agreed to go down with Andy, but we were all on the same rope. With no extra rope, a serious decision had to be made. Due to itinerary limits on our trip, a second chance at the summit wasn't an option. Jeramy and I decided to pay for the rope if we could cut it in half and continue on. Alex agreed and we wished each other good luck, feeling greatly "disappointed" that Andy and Alex wouldn't summit.
The rest of the climb was brutal, regardless of my extensive physical conditioning, due to the altitude. Eventually, i was slowed to a two step one breath ratio! We reached the Crater Rim at 7:00am, and made quick work of tagging the true summit. We took photos, threw in a celebration chew, signed the log book and we were off. We descended quickly, and passed a woman going up going for the speed record of the mountain. She was practically running up Rainier unroped. Whoever she was, she gets much respect in my book! We got to the top of the cleaver at 11:00am and kicked it with some Californians for a bit. We began the sketchy, chossy, descent of the leaver. A few close calls later, and with plenty of bitching and complaining, we were off the cleaver. Once off the cleaver we hurried past a scary ice/rockfall section, negotiating two now huge crevasses.
We arrived at camp Muir at 12:30, ate lunch, and packed up camp. Alex and Andy were already packed up and headed to their car. We were ready to get off Rainier as well. We geared up, popped over the lip at camp Muir, and proceeded to plunge step the ____ out of that snow slope. Glissading was tough due to the soft snowpack, but in some spots it was feasable. On the way out their were tons of tourists on the last paved mile of the trail. I think it may have been the sound of my double plastics stomping down or rattling gear, but they all seemed to steer very clear of me. I may have had that "I want nothing but to be off this mountain" look going, I don't know. With Paradise in sight, i was practically running for the car. We got back to the car around 3:30pm, checked out with the rangers, and bid Mt. Rainier adu'.
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