Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Big training climb

Just a quick update since I don't have a lot to report. Everything is on schedule right now for us to summit the third week of July, so just under a month away now. I'm ready! I want it to be here already. Every time I look at Rainier from Seattle I just imagine that I'll be standing up on top of it soon. I want to stop having to imagine it and just be there!

This weekend we're doing a big training climb. The choices were Mt. Hood, Mt. Baker or Mt. Shuksan. It looks like we're probably leaning toward Mt. Baker. I was hoping for Hood or Baker since they're both mountains that you can see from far away. I like the idea of looking at a big mountain and knowing that I've climbed it. The weather is supposed to be perfect this weekend, so we should have pretty good conditions for whatever climb we do.

I'll likely try to do another big hike or two after that. Possibly a second try for Camp Muir in early July.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Unpredictable Mountain

The photo above is Camp Muir on a day with perfect conditions. Not a cloud in the sky. Minus a really bad sunburn from almost a whole day of the sun reflecting off the snow, my hike up to the 10,000' level of Rainier last summer was amazing. Unfortunately this week some others weren't lucky enough to have those prime conditions. A Seattle PI article tells the sad story of three climbers, one of which died, on their trip to Camp Muir. I've always heard that Mt. Rainier has its own weather system and that storms can creep up on you out of nowhere.

This article scared me on one level and made me realize I made the right choice this past weekend. For several months now I had been planning to do the very same hike to Camp Muir as a training hike with some of my Rainier group. I had planned to go down to the park for the weekend, camp and participate in a Cache In Trash Out (CITO) trail cleanup with geocachers on Saturday and then make the trek to Muir on Sunday. The few days before this was to happen I kept an eye on the weather and it didn't look good for Mt. Rainier National Park. Rain, snow and cold temperatures. Shortly before the weekend I talked to the people who were coming with me and we decided that maybe it would be best to do a hike around Seattle on Sunday instead. On Saturday after the CITO event we drove to Paradise where the trailhead is and the conditions seemed horrible. You could only see about 200 feet in front of you because of clouds and fog. We stopped and talked to some mountaineers doing some crevasse rescue training and they warned that if we were heading out on any trails to take a compass, as they said a lot of people were getting turned around. Based off that, I felt like I had made the right decision not to take others on the hike I had only done one time in my life. Today I've had people sending me the link to the article telling me they're glad we decided not to do the hike.

There will be risks in climbing Rainier, but then there are risks in everything. This is a challenge I've made for myself because it will be tough, but it will be attainable.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Two More Mountains and more skills

So I have been keeping busy with training over the past week. Monday I took advantage of the day off work to go hike the "super highway" known as Mt. Si over in North Bend. It's only a half hour from Seattle, so whenever the weather's decent (or even if it's not) this hiking trail can be packed. I actually prefer this when I'm out hiking by myself, which was the case. Knowing that I'm within yelling distance of another human being makes me feel completely safe hiking alone. To make sure I'm on the right track for climbing Rainier, I needed to climb Si in an hour and 45 minutes. I did exactly that. I've definitely climbed the mountain in less time before, but this was the first time I was carrying over 40lbs of weight on my back. I must say that I did enjoy all the positivity I got from the people I passed on the trail. Several people along the way asked what I was training for or if I was training for Rainier. More than one person, knowing that I was carrying a lot of weight, congratulated me when I made it to the top. It's a nice feeling knowing that people are out there rooting me on, even when they don't even know me!

On Thursday night our Rainier group got together to do some crevasse rescue training. Just in case someone on our rope team does fall into a crevasse, we learned the basics of how to build a Z Pulley system to pull them out. We've basically learned all the rope and safety stuff that we need to learn now. So now we just have to make sure we're in great shape!

Today our group went over to the Olympic Penninsula to hike Mt. Ellinor. The mountain is beautiful and I definitely want to go back and check it out again. While this was only about a 3 mile hike, it was good for elevation gain (right around 3000'). A section of this hike was up a chute that is very similar to the Camp Muir section of Rainier. It was a cloudy hike on the way up, but toward the top we broke through the clouds and found a beautiful day at the summit. The best part of this hike was getting to glissade back down the chute. Glissading definitely saves time and saves a lot of pressure on the knees!