climbing mt rainier
"The difference between loneliness and solitude is your perception of who you are alone with and who made the choice." --anonymous quote
"I get lost in the beauty
Of everything I see
The world ainâ€™t as half as bad
As they paint it to be"
1) My father in law, who has climbed it many times, but not in the past 10 years, was our guide. Due to receding glaciers, who now have to cross many more crevasse, and have to take a longer up/down/up route. We did not budget the extra time, equipment, and provisions for this.
Our food mostly consisted of very sugary, or peanut based foods. This gave us the sugar shakes, and then disgust, in all of our all-to-small supply of food. Bring a lot of, and a variety of, food. The cold and effort will have you burning a lot more calories than you expect.
Water was the biggest holdback, however. We each brought a camelbak (3L) with the plans to melt more water at camp Muir, and yet more higher up the mountain. We had our own "gaz" powered camp stove, but my father in law said his own, single cartridge powered stove would be enough. He brought one kettle, and thawed his water first. It went slow. We began thawing our water about an hour before sunset. Because gas cartridges get cold as the gas evaporates out of them, and because it was sitting on a rock in the cold snow, the rate of our water production went from slow to glacial once the sun went down. We didn't finish filling our camelbaks until about 9:00 PM, and had to get up to start for the summit at 11:30 PM. Of course, after purifying all that water, and sleeping...no...make the 'resting', for a couple of hours, we drank some of our water. Bescause we were already starting with insufficient supply, I insisted we retop our camelbaks. By now the gas cartridge had already lost much of its pressure, and it was really cold. In fact, the gas inside had frozen solid. I had to hold a lighter underneath it to evaporate the gas. It took us until about 1:30 to get enough water melted to top up our camelbaks and make some (not enough) oatmeal and coffee. We were only to camp Muir (which we actually reached pretty quickly- we're in decent shape and live at 5000'). We already felt exhausted from no sleep, dehydrated, and improperly nourished. Once we started, we found our feet would break through the snow for crevasses...a lot. My father in law gave us next to no warning or training on how to deal with this, although we were roped up (there were far fewer crevasses in the past). He also wasn't wearing a helmet (and told us we didn't need them, either), so we were concerned for his safety, too.
After making our way over a very steep, loose, rocky, dangerous section past camp Muir, we saw just how far down we'd have to climb before going back up. We felt like crap by this time, so returned back.
Climbing that night though was absolutely beautiful. The air was super clear, the moon was a mere sliver, and it was the persiad meteor shower. I saw more meteors that night than in the whole rest of my life combined. Amazing!
The moral is, climb with someone who is not only experienced, but has climbed it recently. Now, at least, you'll be able to avoid some of the mistakes we made- most importantly, bringing a pot and stove that works in the cold.
i think i remember reading somewhere on the RMI website that they'll be able to provide everyone with some amount of boiling water... have to check up on that. we'd prob have to bring our own too though.
My blog of the trip is here.
They will do the cooking for breakfasts and dinners and have plenty of melted hot and cold purified water. You bring your own lunch/snack foods. It is very organized and you stay at the huts at Camp Muir and in already prepared tents at the camp above that. Their logistics are excellent.
It was a 3 day trip with one day of glacier training. They taught glacier travel (crampons, harness, rope use) and self arrest with ice axe. On a longer trips they will teach you crevasse rescue, but a longer trip is unnecessary on a climb of this height. You will climb 4500ft per day with pack on the first day, 1000ft with pack the 2nd day and then 3500ft with mostly empty pack to the summit and back to high camp and then 5500ft down with full pack the last night/day.
If people in your group want to climb to the summit in the afternoon the 2nd day, reject this as you will not make the summit by dark and will have disappointing pictures.
Be prepared to deal with a people with no experience or lacking in strength or endurance. It isn't on my blog as I was trying to be polite to my fellow climbers. Because of this it took us 5.5 hours to get back down to high camp, which normally takes 3 hours.
Also the year I went, 2007, there was a huge crevasse at the top of Dissapointment Cleaver, so the route went down and around it, which gave us a lot more glacier experience.
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