About a month ago, I came down with a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Kyle and Liam had signed up to go to Mt. Rainier with a few other ACC members and although I was trying not to let it get to me, I was definitely jealous. I asked a few questions about switching shifts at work and managed to weasel my way onto the trip with less than 2 weeks to go! It was a bit of a mad scramble to get the necessary permits (I was able to just add myself onto the camping permit but had to get my own climbing permit). I had to learn how to send a fax and wait for the permit to arrive by snail mail but luckily it all arrived with days to spare and I was incredibly excited to be going along! At the last minute, our trip leader Juan had to pull out from the trip, causing his friend to also bail. Suddenly it was down the the three musketeers: Liam, Kyle and Jenny (the three amigos as Juan would say). Some trip planning and beer drinking sessions occurred and we were feeling ready to tackle the mountain on our own. At the final hour however, Juan was able to come on the trip again. A few recalculations of gear ensued and the pre-trip faff was complete. Onwards to adventure! We met in Fernie BC on the morning of Saturday June 14th loaded up with Tim Horton's donuts to make our way Mt. Rainier National Park.
|Welcome to America! It smells like freedom down here|
It poured rain most of the drive, but we were lucky enough to get some sunny weather through the Columbia River Gorge. What a beautiful area. We made good time through Washington and arrived in Ashford, WA in time to check into Whittaker's Bunkhouse, the Basecamp for the RMI guided groups and pretty much anyone else who is attempting Mt. Rainier.
|Columbia River Gorge|
The bunkhouse fills up pretty fast, even in the early season, so Juan was the only one who had a room. The rest of us had to make due with the much more luxurious (and expensive) guest cottage that sleeps 4 and has its own kitchen, washroom and fireplace!
|Whittaker's Bunkhouse during a rare sunny break|
|Juan and Kyle, the team tricksters|
We spent two nights in Ashford, which allowed us to prepare for the climb on Monday. Sunday morning was spent looking around the guide service shop picking up some souvenirs and last minute supplies. Then we drove up to Paradise in the National Park to visit with the rangers, pick up our blue bags (to remove your poop from the glacier), register for our climb and get even more souvenirs. It was grey and steadily drizzling so we hadn't even had a chance to see the mountain at this point. Such is life in western Washington I suppose.
|The guest cottage|
We had a huge dinner of fajitas before heading to bed early in preparation for the next day. Excitement was in the air.
|Relaxing after packing up for Monday's hike to camp Muir|
We awoke to more overcast skies and drizzle, but as we approached the Paradise Trailhead, it began to snow. We did a bit of last minute reorganizing of gear before heading out from the overnight parking area.
|Snow at the trailhead|
Upon recommendation from a ranger, we tried to take a shortcut from the lower parking lot to the main trail (which sees heavy traffic and is marked with flags by the guides) by following a drainage directly up to the trail, rather than walking up to the day parking lot where the trail actually starts. Initially we started following the wrong trail, then we got turned around and basically spent the next two hours wandering around in the fog, probably only a few hundred metres from the trail and parking lot at any one time. Eventually we just backtracked to the day lot and started from the beginning of the obviously flagged "highway" that we had somehow missed. So much for an early start!
|Lost in the fog|
|One of the many guided parties making their way up the Muir snowfield.|
|Emerging from the cloud with Liam waiting ahead. Note the highway we were able to follow up!|
|Ranger cabin and guided party tents at Camp Muir|
|Looking out over the sea of cloud below|
|Public shelter at Camp Muir|
|Setting up our camp at 10,080 feet|
|Hanging out in the tent to stay warm|
We emerged from the tent around 7am after the wind had died down a bit. It was a glorious morning. We took advantage of the clear skies to rope up and scout out the first part of the route from Camp Muir to Ingraham Flats. It was good to stretch the legs and figure out how we worked as a rope team as Kyle and Liam had never climbed with Juan before. It was also nice to get some pictures as the next time we would be through this area, it would be pitch black.
|Looking back down at Camp Muir and a large guided party on the glacier below from Cathedral Gap|
|Working our way up to the ridge of Cathedral Gap|
|Ingraham Flats camp above an icefall with the Disappointment Cleaver in the background|
|The non-guided camp area with Cathedral Gap in the background|
|The small peak above Camp Muir was a great place for photos|
|Liam looking epic with Mt. Adams (12,281 ft) in the background|
|Camp Muir from above|
|Walking up the mountain in a little bubble of light was very surreal|
|Looking down at Ingraham Flats from the bottom of the cleaver to see a string of headlamps coming up the glacier after us|
|Light on the horizon as we made our way up the Gibraltar Shoulder. Note headlamps on the top of the cleaver|
|Sunrise over little Tahoma (peak in foreground)|
|Amazing views at 5am|
|Me and Liam following a client up the Gibraltar Shoulder|
|Busy day on Rainier. Looking down the Shoulder at the Cleaver, Emmons Glacier (left), and little Tahoma|
|Morning alpine glow on the rope team as the sun rises|
|Taking the trail around the bergschrund|
|Approaching the crater rim|
|Liam was the first to summit|
|Photo shoot at the top|
|The three musketeers with beer|
|Looking down at the crater and beyond|
|Rainier with a rainier and Mt. Adams and Mt. Baker in the background. I could only drink about 1/3 of my beer before I could feel it going straight to my head|
|Liam the cave explorer in the entrance to one of the steam caves|
|The whole team at the summit!|
|Big, deep crevasse|
|Me stepping over the big crevasse|
|Looking down at Ingraham Flats from the cleaver. Huge crevasses all around!|
|Cranky Kyle doesn't want any more photos, he just wants water|
The whole climb had taken us almost exactly 12 hours from camp to summit and back to camp again. We took a few hours to hang out, melt snow and snack before dismantling our tents and starting the walk back down to the Paradise trailhead. The walk down was much more enjoyable than the walk up. I was quite envious of the climbers who had brought toboggans or skis up with them, but I was still able to slide down a bunch of the way on a garbage bag!
|There were lots of bum slides on the way down which was much more fun than walking|
|On our way home|