Devo's Climbs

Monday, August 01, 2005

Alpine Climb: Mount Rainier

I climbed Mt. Rainier over the weekend. My co-worker, Danny Geiger, organized the venture. We were leading five of his friends - Gary, Paul, Denis, Todd, and Carl - up the mountain, and he recruited me and another friend of his, Gary Richardson, as leaders. Danny left Thursday with the five prospective mountaineers to spend Friday on the mountain. Gary and I left after work Friday and trekked to their camp at Anvil Rocks (9,000 feet). We left Paradise at 5:30 pm and arrived at 8:30. Danny had dinner prepared and we all watched a marvelous high Cascade sunset.

On Saturday we moved camp to Muir (10,080 feet), spent the afternoon conducting "snow school" - instruction in ice axe arrest, crampons and rope travel - and rested up for our summit bid. I only managed 30 minutes of sleep before we were up and preparing to climb. We were off at 11:30 pm, Gary leading a team of four and I leading a team of three.

All-in-all, we made good time and reached the summit without mishap. Gary's team was faster and summited about 6:45 am Sunday morning. My team made it to 13,200 feet, at which Carl felt he had reached his limit and, with Danny's assistance, chose to descend. We decided, that given the conditions, I'd solo the last 1,400 feet and catch up with Gary for the descent. I continued at a good pace and caught up with Gary and the others just as they were unroping at the summit crater.

Several of us walked over to the summit at 14,1410 feet. It was very windy and cold but the view was breathtakingly clear. I could see the entire Puget Sound spread out before me, from Mt. Baker in the north to Mt. Jefferson in the south. Awesome. We snapped some pictures, signed the summit register and walked back across the crater. I joined Gary's rope and we began our descent around 7:30 am.

The snow remained firm until we reached 12,000 feet, then it began to soften considerably. Once we reached the scree of Disappointment Cleaver, we decided to remove our crampons for the remainder of the descent. We arrived at Muir at 11:15, just under 12 hours round trip. Danny and Carl were there; was good to see they had descended safely.

About 2 pm, we started the hike down the Muir Snowfield to Paradise, arriving a little after 4:00. On the way home we held a celebratory dinner at Scale Burger in Elbe - greasy food tastes so good after a climb! I jacked up on a cup of coffee for the return drive, dropped Gary off in Wedgewood, and arrived home at 8 pm where I managed to take a shower before I crashed into bed.

Pictures of our climb are posted here.

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