Mt Rainier

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Trip Report
Washington, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Nov 30, 0000
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Mt Rainier
Created On: Oct 16, 2009
Last Edited On: Oct 25, 2013

Mt Rainier, Washington USA

I've climbed Mt Rainier 10 times with some successful trips to the summit and other not due to climbers and weather but always achieved at least 12,000 feet including clumbing with Win Whitaker (son of legendary Jim Whitaker) on a Climb for Clean Air trip for the America Lung Association.

The summit of this mountain is unique to mountains. There are actually 3 separately classified summits of this peak, Columbia Crest which is the highest point at 14,411 feet, Point Success at 14,158 feet to the southwest, and Liberty Cap at 14,112 feet to the northwest all separated by a large crater.

Mountain climbing on Mount Rainier is very difficult; it involves climbing on the largest glaciers in the U.S. south of Alaska. Most climbers require two to three days to reach the summit. Climbing teams require experience in glacier travel, self-rescue, and wilderness travel. About 8,000 to 13,000 people attempt the climb each year,about 90% via routes from Camp Muir on the southeast flank. Most of the rest ascend Emmons Glacier via Camp Schurman on the northeast. About half of the attempts are successful, with weather and conditioning being the most common reasons for failure.

Mt Rainier on Wiki

Disappointment Cleaver - June 2007

Mt Rainier, Washington USA
We left Paradise on a sunny morning afternoon for Camp Muir. As we approached, the mountain could be touched with our fingertips, being so close in the sky. We continued on the Muir Snowfield that was desperately exposed of rock due to the lack of snow. I have been on the mountain many times and never seen the snow field as rocky as it was. Even the rangers as we climbed affirmed my thoughts of the bare rocky exposure.

We arrived at Camp Muir to a busy public shelter of many foreign climbers including Russian. and made camp on the common bunk area. The public shelter is a treasure of the world with the simplicity of the bunks, the camaraderie of the group, and the thrill of the coming adventure. We set up our stoves and prepared of dinner of Mountain House. After cleaning up, we prepared our gear and settled into our sleeping bags for the night.

We woke around 12:00 am and started the stove for coffee and oatmeal. It was clear that one of the climbers in our group was not in great shape with vomiting and dizziness. We slowly got ready for the summit bid including harness and snow protection devices. As we left the shelter around 2:00 am, the sky was clear and the stars were brilliant. We started from the high camp via the Cowlitz Glacier to the Cathedral Gap. From there, we arrived at the ridgeline and our partner could go no farther. After a "tempered" discussion, we climbed back down and as we hit the Cowliz Glacier, a charge came across me to "spin" the right way. We guided our climber to a safe zone and quickly unclipped and worked back up the Cowlitz Glacier to the Cathedral Gap. It was approx 3:30am.

Once on the crested ridgeline, we traversed to Ingram Flats, and descended under the Disappointment Clever (DC) due to extreme exposure of crevasses on the mountain. The end around was long, but around this time, we could up with the last party to leave Camp Muir well ahead of us. As we continued on, we encountered a 30 foot vertical climb know as "Hillary Step" for this climbing season and pushed toward the top of the DC nearing dawn. From there, we continued to pass large parties on out way to the summit and arrived to the crater around 9:30 am with the winds howling from the west toward us. We dropped into the rim and made the 20 minute hike to the true summit. The wind was fierce, but it was a life moment standing on the summit of the most challenging mountains in the lower United States. It is a point in time I will never forget.

Emmons Glacier - June 13th, 2009

Mt Rainier, Washington USA
A friend asked me if I was up for climbing Rainier via the Emmons glacier route and of course I could not say no even though I had no plans to set foot on this beautiful mountain in the year of 2009. Funny thing, the friend whom suggested the climb cancelled last minute but our minds where set to spend the weekend on fresh glacier snow.

Driving to the trailhead, the rain sporadically hit the windshield hinting the day would be less than idea as we headed up to Camp Shurman. In addition to the weather, I reflected of my 2009 New Year goal to deepen my daily life including acute mental conditioning. As I continued to climb the step slopes of Glacier Basin, the sun exposed through the cloud layer as I neared the 8000 feet mark. I reached camp as the wind plowed from the north at 40 miles per hour.

Nested in for the night, the alarm went off at 1am and to my surprise the conditions were remarkably calm and crisp. I climbed in the rear of my climbing partner which is a change of our normal climbing cadence as I tonight needed to rely on his strength and steady pace up the step face. We climbed on without any reference to our progress up the mountain in the endless sea of white except for the distant peak of Little Tacoma at 11,138 feet. In comparison to other Rainer routes, the Emmons more than makes up for its lack of technical hazards with its unrelenting constant physical demands without offering much deserved breaks of level points.

As daylight came with full force, we approached the summit plateau with the crater rim in view. I’ve never “hit the wall” on mountain but today was the day my summit was right where I stood as she “Rainier” has already taught me many life lessons during my numerous ascents. It was a long, sloppy, and exhausting descent back to camp but like any summit bid, the mental toughness sets in when the mind and feet are in the most venerable state. Once back at camp, the sun was beating down on our backs but we quickly broke camp and continued to the trailhead through Glacier Basin. I glissaded a record of 2 minutes down the slopes and as I looked back up from the base of the basin and the immense sloping terrain, an eerie feeling came over me of what it would be like standing in the bottom of ocean without water. As I turned my back to the mountain and continued on, I knew the final 4 miles would seem like eight and they did...


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