Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world. - David McCullough Jr
MAY 10, 2017
Location: Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, USA.
Elevation: 14,411 feet (4,392 meters)
Duration: 1 week
Challenges: Weather, avalanche, rock and ice fall
Best season to hike: May - Sept
Mount Rainier is the highest mountain of the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, and the highest mountain in the U.S. state of Washington. It is a large active volcano located 54 miles (87 km) south-southeast of Seattle. Mountain climbing on Mount Rainier is difficult, involving traversing 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.
Rainier: The climb, Part 1
“Patrick! You don’t want to tumble here”, says Jess, one of our guides, probably sensing that my footing was not great. It’s 3am on our summit day and we’ve already been climbing for 2 hours. The night is clear, thanks to a full moon, and windy but not overly cold. We are in the middle of the Ingraham glacier at about 12,000 feet in elevation, following a switchback pattern to ease the 45-degree slope of the headwall. I then looked down and realized that a misstep here could have very serious consequences, not only for me but for the 2 other members on my rope team. Welcome to Mount Rainier!
Rainier: The climb, Part 2
It was windy and the flapping of the tent kept me awake most of the night. It was a relief when Solveig woke us up at midnight. Finally, summit day has arrived and I could not be more excited, yet nervous at the same time. In 1 hour, we were all roped up, crampons on and ready to go. We started the same route we took the day prior, but this time it was in the middle of the night. Seeing all the headlamps forming a line on the Cowlitz Glacier was completely surreal. I had a big smile on my face since I knew the route was easy and that I could relax and enjoy the moment.
Rainier: The climb, Part 3
We started the descent with only 10 feet of visibility, but the wind wasn’t very strong and it wasn’t too cold. The guides told us that we would only take 2 breaks on the descent, one on top of the Disappointment Cleaver at 12,500 feet and one at the Flats at 11,200 feet. After the crevasse incident, we were all very careful and made sure to follow the same exact path as the person ahead of us. We made good time and after 1hr30’, we finished climbing down the area with the biggest crevasses and took our first break. Finally, the sky cleared and it was sunny again.