Sunday, July 27, 2008


I climbed the Mountain! Great weather helped me achieve the goal I've been working so hard for. It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life! I'll give a more complete rundown of the climb later, but I wanted to share some of the fun I had last Thursday and Friday with a few photos. 

Thursday around 9am in the Parking Lot at Paradise.

First great view of the mountain on the trail to Camp Muir.

On the trail to Camp Muir.

My little section of the hut at Camp Muir.

The larger crevasses we had to step across. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the crevasse we had to cross by walking over a ladder "bridge." This was actually my favorite section of the climb.

A pretty cool place to be at sunrise.

Ice Axe Annie at the top!

Looking over the Crater Rim from the true summit.

Trail across the Crater Rim.

Cool view on the way down.

Toward the end of the climb at Ingraham Flats.

Our climbing group on the way back down to Paradise.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Time to see about climbing a mountain

The time is finally here! I'm sitting at a coffee shop at Rainier Base Camp and I'll be taking off with my group in about 30 minutes. I'm really excited. Today's hike to Camp Muir should be beautiful since the weather is perfect!

This webcam at Paradise shows just how nice the weather will be for the start of our journey. I believe that weather is supposed to hold out, so this should be good for our summit attempt early tomorrow morning.

Throughout the past couple weeks I've been thinking of how fortunate I've been through this whole experience to have the overwhelming support from my friends, family, coworkers and perfect strangers. If there was ever a day or two that I wasn't sure that I wanted to follow through, I just thought of the people who have been rooting me along and it's been the kick I've needed to really push myself. A huge THANK YOU goes out to all the people who have been so supportive in so many ways. I'm really excited to have this opportunity and I've been thrilled that people have cared so much to let me share my stories with them. So yeah, thanks!

Guess I should go get my boots on and head over to meet the group now.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Carpe Diem

The time has finally come. I've been determined to climb Mt. Rainier since I made it my New Years Resolution in January and I'll finally get to do it. I've actually sectioned off my life this year into two sections because of all that's gone into preparing for this. My pre-Rainier life and my post-Rainier life. It's been hard to plan things with my friends for so long and I've just kept telling them "let's do such and such after Rainier." I'm sure they're tired of hearing that and I know I'm tired of saying it. :)

I made a pact with myself that I would make an attempt on the Mountain one way or another before the climbing season was over. I've finally decided to go with the RMI guide service. They have both a 4 day and a 5 day summit climb. I've opted to go with the 4 day climb, which includes a day and a half of training before the summit attempt.

The way the guided service is set up, I'll be going down to Ashford, Washington (just outside the park entrance) Tuesday for introductions and the first part of training. On Wednesday we'll spend the day near Paradise doing some training as a group. I'm guessing this will include more self arrest and ropes training. Then on Thursday we'll hike up to Camp Muir. With the guide service we'll be staying in a hut rather than in our own tents. They say to bring ear plugs as it can be hard to sleep in the hut. On Friday morning we'll get started on the trail to the summit at 12:30am. I have been reading reports of teams heading up earlier than that because of the warmer temperatures lately on the mountain.

So now it's the last minute preparations. I'm trying to figure out what food and how much to bring. Luckily the recommended foods for a climb like this are pizza, beef jerky, chips, candy, etc. Being that those are my favorite foods, I think I can handle that. I'm also trying to figure out what layers I'll want for the summit climb. They say it's much colder up on Rainier than people think it will be so I'm guessing my down jacket will be coming in handy.

I'll be going on my last short training hike today on one of the trails near Seattle. It'll be nice to take a break from those trails for a while after this is over. I'm actually looking forward to doing some normal hiking for a bit after this experience. Although, there is talk of still climbing Mt. Adams this summer!

Anyway, if all goes well, anyone with a view of Mt. Rainier should be able to look up on their commute to work Friday morning and hopefully see me waving from the top. :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Learning Experience

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, based off my experiences so far. I haven't been one to know a lot of fear in my life. If I want to do something I usually just go do it. Mt. Baker made me realize that I need to learn how to deal with my fears and not let them take away my confidence in climbing a mountain. That being said, I didn't want my fears to ruin any summit attempt for the Rainier group I've been training with. All of us have worked really hard over the past several months toward this goal. The point I stopped at for Baker was a good stopping point. It was a good, safe place for one to wait while others attempted a summit. I don't know that Rainier has those same options in case someone can't go on. I'm determined to make the summit, but if my fears get the best of me I wouldn't want my group that I've been training with to miss out because of it. They will still be going as scheduled this Friday, so they should be up on the summit a week from today. I'll be excited to hear how it goes for them.

I'm still planning to climb the mountain. I'm just thinking that I need to go with an option that wouldn't have the possibility of letting my training buddies down.

When I do climb the mountain, I will be following the Disappointment Cleaver route. This is considered the easiest and most popular route up the mountain. The park rangers keep trail reports updated regularly on their website. This route starts at Paradise for the first day and the typical stopping point is Camp Muir at the 10,000' level. If it's a two day summit attempt, then it's very typical to get started on the trail at 12:30am the next morning meaning you spend the first few hours in the dark. It's important to start in the middle of the night so that you have the best conditions on the snow.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mt. Baker

Friday after work we drove up to Mt. Baker and set up camp outside our cars. There was still too much snow on the road to go all the way to the trailhead, but we were less than a mile away from there. After building our tents, we only had about 2 hours to "sleep" before we were going to get up at 1am. Since we'll have to get up at 12:30am to start our journey for the summit of Rainier, this was good experience to get used to hiking in the middle of the night. We got going just before 2am on Saturday morning.

Just after the trailhead, we came to a bridge that had been washed out so we had to "ford" the river as the sign had indicated we would need to do. Luckily there was a tree over the river not far from the bridge and it was wide enough to walk across. This would prove to be good practice for me later in the day since I'm highly lacking in coordination! The trail was very hard to keep because it was mostly buried under snow. We actually ended up losing the trail for a while and went on a slightly precarious route. I slipped and fell at one point and my bad gut feeling I had before going into the trip made me stop for a minute and reevaluate whether I wanted to be climbing Mt. Baker this past weekend. Something was telling me that something bad would happen. Luckily my gut feelings weren't accurate.

We finally got out onto the glacier and it was wide open and beautiful - this put me at ease. That is, until we came to the first and only major crevasse we would cross for the day. I'm guessing the crevasse was at least 12 feet wide, with at least a 20 foot drop or more in parts. We had to cross this on a snow "bridge." The snow bridge was about 2 feet wide and of course, made of snow. This is why we did the crevasse rescue training and I'm glad we did. We all made it across safely and I tried not to look down!

Not long after crossing the crevasse and a little more of the glacier I heard a loud noise and looked to my right. A big chunk of snow was coming off the mountain and an avalanche was taking place right in front of us. It was hard to tell where it was going to stop - though where we were standing at the time, we were not in its path. It did scare me because it was approaching the trail we had just crossed and I knew we had to go back that way. The avalanche sent a snowball the size of a minivan down across the trail we had passed just minutes before. Again, this made my gut feelings get to me. As we got farther up the trail and passed other rope teams, they indicated that there was avalanche danger near the summit. I decided I didn't want to summit after hearing that. I stopped at 8,000 feet and Mihae decided to stop there with me as well. It was a perfect stopping point for not summiting. It was a rocky section of the mountain so other climbers and skiers were stopping there for breaks so it was fun talking to others while we were there. The view was amazing!

The guys in the group, Harrison and Bram, decided that they would attempt the summit and they almost made it there. They did an avalanche test and decided not to risk going all the way to the summit. This made me feel better about my decision.

I have to say the whole experience made me feel better about Rainier. Experiencing some of the things I may come against with the mountain put things more into perspective. I also realized that I am in shape for climbing Rainier so all the hard work has paid off physically. The plan is still to summit the third weekend of July.