| Mt. Rainier Disappointment Cleaver = Awesomeness
Day 1 August 2nd 2011:
Paradise to Camp Muir 8:30am to 1:00pm - 4.5 hours
Day 2 August 3rd 2011:
Muir to Summit 1:00am to 8:00am - 7 hours
Summit to Muir 9:30am to 12:45pm - 3.25 hours
Muir to Paradise 2:30pm to 4:30pm - 2 hours
- The trail was easy to follow the entire way
Here is our youtube slideshow with a lot more pictures than this report you have to copy and paste it into the browser for it to work.
My first trip report:
After 9 months of hard training spending countless hours in the gym and hiking 14,000ft peaks in Colorado the time had finally come. I go to Washington in August almost every summer to celebrate my grandma‘s birthday. She had 7 kids so we have a large family and it turns into a fun family reunion every summer. I have a great bunch of Uncles, Aunts, and counsins out in the area. Climbing Mt. Rainier was huge not only for me but I wanted to do it for the Kushner family. My dad's whole side of the family had spent their entire lives growing up around the mountain but no one in my family had ever climbed it.
Annie (Marie123) and I flew out on Monday August 1st to meet up with the other two people (Hoss and Adam) who would join our team. Hoss is actually one of my best friends brother who lives in Fargo. A year ago at Casey's wedding we had discussed climbing mountains together and sure enough Rainier came into the picture and now it was finally happening. Adam was one of Hoss's good buddies and flew out from Oklahoma after expressing interest in Rainier. We geared up and discussed what we were bringing. Adam had gotten into really good shape by running the entire stadium of stairs at the University of Oklahoma's stadium as part of his training for Rainier.
We all seemed to click really well and we were really looking forward to climbing together.
Staring down Rainier from Seattle the night before.
We got to bed around 8:30pm Monday night and woke up to my ever so pleasant "Rooster" with increasing volume alarm at 4:00am. We quickly forced down some more pasta from the night before for breakfast to carb load as much as possible and then we jumped in our cars and headed to Paradise (the trailhead for those who don't know). Thankfully I was driving through western Washington on a clear day and as the sun began to rise on our way to paradise we could see Mt. Rainier become more and more clear rising almost 14,000 feet above our location at sea level.
We got to Paradise at 7:30am. After straightening our parking situation and some permits we got done packing and hit the trailhead around 8:30am.
Hoss, Adam, Annie and yours truly
We were all really excited to have Mt. Rainier on a clear day. I started in a t-shirt, shorts, and gaiters. After only about 20 minutes it got HOT!!! So I lathered up the sunscreen and stripped down to a black tank top and was still plenty warm.
The views on the way up were amazing.
At around 8,000 feet we noticed something. Our two friends Hoss and Adam who started off leading the pack at such a brisk pace began to slow down more and more and more. I was a little worried when around 8,500 Hoss said "I just cant seem to catch my breath" especially considering we had 5,900 feet of elevation gain to go. Annie and I didn't mind waiting because this allowed us to hike ahead and then rest and relax.
Annie charging ahead with Hoss and Adam behind.
We were in no rush considering we were both feeling great and knew Camp Muir, our stopping point for the night, wasn't too far away. It was a little deceiving though because Camp Muir felt like many Colorado peaks with false summits. The snow fields began to get longer and steeper as you get towards Camp Muir and just when you think you have climbed to the top and Camp Muir isn't too far away then there is another snow field.
Me approaching Camp Muir
We arrived at Camp Muir just before 1:00pm which was 4.5 hours after leaving Paradise. Not too bad considering we spent a large amount of time waiting for our friends from the flat part of the country. They arrived at Camp Muir about 20 to 30 minutes after we did. Luckily this was a Tuesday so it was pretty easy to find a campsite that was relatively flat and dug out already so we set up camp.
Our predug campsite
We were told not to bring a water filter and lets just say that was the one piece of advice I wish I didn‘t listen to. We started trying to melt snow at 2:00pm just for Annie and I. Hoss and Adam had their own stove which seemed to be working well. To melt snow at 10,000 feet and turn it into boiling water even with a jet boil took what seemed like FOREVER!!! We began to worry a little bit around 4:00pm when we had hardly any water to show for our two hours of jet boil work. I was hoping to carry 4 liters up to the summit but at that time knowing that I still needed to drink as much water that night and in the morning as possible I knew that wasn‘t going to happen. Next time I am going to melt the snow just enough in the jet boil so that I can use my 9 ounce water filter and purify it from there. It would have saved me a ton of time and fuel. It was plenty warm enough at that time so we wouldn't have had to worry about our water freezing. Around 7:00pm we finally gave it a rest. We had enough water for our dehydrated food mix, which didn't taste as much like cardboard as I had heard, about a liter and a half a piece that night and morning and then only two liters each for the next day. For those who have hiked with me this is less than half of what Annie and I normally consume and carry before a hike/climb.
We finally got settled in our sleeping bags around 8:00pm. Knowing that we were getting up in 3.5 hours for the most exciting climb of our life kept me up all night I didn't sleep a wink. Annie may have slept 20 to 30 minutes. We once again got up to my famous "Rooster" alarm at 11:30pm.
We made a "forced restroom break" and then tried to get ready. I didn't think it was taking us that long to get ready but before I knew it was 12:30am. We finally got our act together and hit the trail right at 1:00am before the long stampede of guided groups got in front of us and slowed us down.
Starting out at 1am. Were not as awake as we look
We slowly began to head up over a ridge and before we knew it we were at Ingram flats. I almost didn't know we were even there. I just knew we were walking for a while when I asked "Are we at Ingram Flats" Right after I said that we passed about 10 tents that just came into view of my headlamp.
We slowly gained elevation after this area and jumped across a 2 foot wide crevasse that looked deep enough to see China at the bottom.
Crevasse that was MUCH bigger when we saw it in the daylight
This crevasse widened to about 50 feet just a little ways from us it was cool and creepy at the same time. Not a good spot to slip. Shortly after this we were at the bottom of Disappointment Cleaver. There seemed to be a little exposure right at the very bottom but I couldn't really tell because it was so dark.
It was steep going up the disappointment cleaver but nothing too bad. Before you knew it we hit switchback after switchback gaining more and more elevation which I thought made the disappointment cleaver easier than people made it out to be. Hoss, Annie and I were all feeling great when we heard Adam say "I need to stop." He said he was not feeling good. He had the symptoms of Altitude Sickness. He was dizzy, weak, dehydrated and stumbling on his words. We were a little worried for him but he refused to quit. I asked if he wanted some Aspirin telling him it is a blood thinner and it would help but he said no. I also offered some shock block electrolytes to him and he said no as well. It turns out they ran out of fuel last night trying to boil water and only had about 2 liters apiece as well.
We proceeded on and were soon enough at the top of the disappointment cleaver. From here things leveled out a little but you could see some pretty serious exposure so we knew this was not a good place to fall. We began to rest about every 30 minutes or so .
At around 4:00am it happened.
Sun breaking over the horizon around 4am
We could see the sun slowly start to highlight the horizon. We then began to gain elevation quickly as the trail steepened.
Annie and me
About 4:30 and just under 13,000 feet the sun popped up over the horizon and I could feel the glow on my back as I trudged up hill. I turned around to one of the most amazing sites I had ever seen. The sun had lit up the entire lower mountain including little Tomaha and Mt. Adams. It was a clear day and was breathtaking.
Sunrise looking toward little Tahoma
This gave us the extra motivation we needed to push towards the summit . . . .or so I thought. Adam‘s symptoms seemed to get worse as he began stepping on the rope more and more. Hoss even had to yell at him to get his $H!T together. He began to have to stop every 5 minutes and at one point dropped to his knees and sunk his head. Oh crap . . . . .we were thinking he was going to turn around and then we would have to make the decision who or if all of us go down with him. THANKFULLY he finally asked me for some Aspirin and a few shock blocks. Other than being a little dehydrated the rest of us were feeling pretty good. Hoss had a serious talk with Adam about continuing on but he decided to keep pushing up. At our next stop about 15 minutes later Adam said he was feeling a little better and thought the pills and electrolytes must have helped especially since other than a little water that was all he had put down since we started hiking. It was cold enough that the water in our nalgagen bottles started to get a little slushy but wasn't close to freezing solid.
Dancing around a huge crevasse
The above photo we are walking around a crevasse with Mt. Saint Helens in the background around 13,800. We probably jumped 6 crevasses on the way up but none more than 2 feet wide.
A steep, whatever you do do not slip, section
We felt like we were getting closer and closer to the summit but once again each time we reached the top of a steep ridge there was another one. Finally we could see the crater rim as we saw one last steep section to climb up. A few minutes later and we were in the crater rim. It was seriously the size of a professional baseball field up there. We were so happy to have made it there . . . . . .until we realized oh crap we have another 50 feet of elevation gain at the other end of the crater rim to go. We dropped our packs and slowly made our way over to the opposite end of the crater rim. Just before 8:00am 7 hours after we started from Camp Muir we were there 14,411 feet. IT WAS AWESOME!!!
The views from the summit were great but not as good as coming up the back side of Rainier with the sunrise. For those who don't know Rainier has 3 humps near the top. Two of which we could see from the true summit but sadly they were blocking a good portion of the views. Still we had made it and it was awesome.
We were really tired by this point and then realized damn we have a long way down. We spent about an hour and a half on the summit resting to get ready for the long haul back down. Adam said he was feeling better but still not very good. As we started down around 9:30 we were amazed to see how steep this section was. None the less we made really quick time down and this time got a much better view of the crevasses that were all around us. We wondered why the trail seemed to take longer than we thought especially for 4 miles one way from Muir to the Summit but that was because the trail changes every year and it had to go around crevasse after crevasse which made the trail a lot longer.
We made really fast time down. When we got to the cleaver the snow got slushy and the sun got warm. As we arrived back at the top of the disappointment cleaver our jaws dropped. We saw the crevasse ridden field that we had crossed at night just after Ingram flats. It seemed amazing that we passed all that at night and hardly even noticed. The disappointment cleaver seemed much steeper on the way down. With about a 1,000 foot steep fall on rocks leading down into crevasses that could hold the titanic we knew we had to be careful on the switchbacks especially because of the slushy snow. Near the bottom of the cleaver we were relieved to be down. It was so warm that Annie and I switched back to tank tops. All of a sudden I realized something. Adam had hardly said a word on the way down and was still wearing his down jacket. I looked at his face and he was pouring sweat. I asked him "aren't you hot?" He replied in a very low tone "yea, . . . . . I am burning up" but he still decided to keep his jacket on.
Annie near the bottom of the cleaver looking towards a crevasse that the Titanic could of fit in
On the way back just under the bottom of the cleaver is the bowling alley where rocks routinely fall. Adam needed a break but this time we wouldn't let him because this is not a place you wanted to stop. We trudged on and soon enough were back at camp Muir around 12:45. 7 hours up and 3.25 hours down. We collapsed in our tents and decide to take an hour break. After an hour we all had a desire to sleep forever, however the desire for a hot greasy burger and frys with beer was greater. We gradually packed up our stuff and around 2:30pm we were on our way back down to Paradise. We were beat and tried to glissade as much as possible. There were a few decent ones but nothing as good as the Angel on Mt. Shavano. We continued down and knew we were getting close when we began to see people hiking in jeans and tennis shoes in the snow. As we got back towards the parking lot we realized we were now back in civilization as the parking lot was packed with tourists. This seemed dissapointing to me after such a great remote and challenging experience especially when some REALLY out of shape lady who was 50 yards out of the parking lot gasping for breath seriously asked "Is it mostly uphill to the top of the mountain?"
Coming back down shot just below the Muir snow field
It only took us about 2 hours to get down and at 4:30pm Rainier was done and what an experience. We were beat, exhausted, and extremely smelly but we loved every second of it.
Hope you enjoyed my trip report. PM me with any questions you may have and I would be happy to do my best to answer them. This will for sure be a repeater next year maybe by the Emmons route. Anyone interested? Now the training for Pico de Orizaba starts!!!
Gear worn/used on Summit Day:
- Gortex Wasatch Boots - I recommend real mountaineering boots but these did ok for this trip.
- Liner and heavy smart wool socks
- Middle Weight Long Underwear with shorts and Marmot water and windproof shell
- T-shirt, long sleve base layer, REI wind and water proof jacket, and down jacket which I only needed towards the top
- Liner gloves as well as winter gloves
- Helmet, Ice Axe, crampons, harness, gaiters, one trecking pole, headlamp, baclava, ski goggles, sunglasses, sun block
Things I wish I brought for the trip
- MY WATER FILTER!!!!
Things I brought on summit day but didn‘t need (but was still glad to have incase the weather got nasty I knew I would be ok)
- Heavy warm sweatshirt
- Heavy warm ski pants
- Extra wool socks
"The best climber in the world is the one who is having all the fun"
Shout out to my grandma on her 86th
A special thanks to Dale Remsberg (http://gravityguide.com/) for adjusting his schedule to squeeze us in last minute for a crevasse rescue course. I highly recommend contacting him if you need help with crevasse rescue training and rope technique. I also wanted to thank everyone else who I contacted out of the blue about Rainier advice. Everyone was extremely helpful.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):