Why'd I Climb Mt. Rainier?
In 2016, I reached the highest and lowest points in the 48-contiguous United States, learning basic mountaineering in the process. This year, I decided to continue mountaineering by attempting Mt. Rainier. I value setting and achieving goals for myself; Mt. Rainier was an obvious choice for a West Coast mountain.
Preparation For Mt. Rainier
In July of 2016, I learned how to use an ice axe, rope and crampons on Mt. Shasta while summiting via the Avalanche Gulch route. Two months prior to climbing Mt. Rainier, I stayed in Breckenridge, Colorado at 9,600 feet. During this time, I jogged a couple miles 3 times a week, did push-ups, sit-ups and also went on 5-10 mile hikes up mountains 1-2 days a week. Hiking at high altitude enabled me to be prepared for Mt. Rainier.
Selecting The Way Up The Mountain
There are various routes up Mt. Rainier. The vast majority of attempts, around 75%, are done on the Disappointment Cleaver route (see 2017 D.C. route PDF here). This is considered the easiest route and was within my comfort level, allowing me to build on my skill-set by learning glacier travel, how to use anchors and how to cross crevasses.
The best weather on Mt. Rainier has historically been in the middle of July. This is the ideal time to attempt summiting. It is also the busiest time on the mountain.
It is allowed to go up the mountain without a guide service but, not having 1-2 mountain fit, experienced and available people to join me, I decided a guide service was the only reasonable option. There are 3 guide services allowed on the mountain and they were all booked up near the beginning of 2017. I, fortunately, had the opportunity to join an International Mountain Guides summit attempt via Disappointment Cleaver during mid-July after being on a wait list.
We started at Paradise Jackson Visitor Center on Sunday around 9:00am with all of our gear and hiked up to Camp Muir for the night. The next day, we went to Ingraham Flats and went to sleep while the sun was still out. For the final ascent up Disappointment Cleaver, we woke up at around 11:00pm on Monday night and were on the mountain by midnight. The last day was about 15 hours on the mountain due to the circuitous route we decided to take.
I am fortunate that I had the opportunity to attempt summiting Mt. Rainier during the middle of July, with clear skys. Due to an avalanche and deteriorating snow, the Disappointment Cleaver route was more circuitous than anticipated. I was not sure that summiting would even be possible once the avalanche damage was first seen by the guides.
I gained respect for the knowledge of the mountain guides. Without their route finding abilities, we would have turned back just like an unguided group that was ahead of us. Additionally, the guides were weary of a ladder we crossed over a crevasse while coming down. This decision detoured the route significantly but it proved to be a safe choice, avoiding the dangers of a weak ladder over a deep crevasse.
Mt. Rainier offers exceptional beauty and thrill. To prepare takes time, effort and knowledge. I am happy that I was a part of the first team to make it to the summit on the morning of July 18th, 2017. I met many interesting people and gained new skills along the way.
Subscribe for new posts!