| Mt. Rainier 2009
Mt. Rainier via Ingraham Direct
AAI trip 05/25/2009-05/28/2009
I have had the bug to broaden my climbing horizons to something outside Colorado for a while now. My goal of getting to the top of a continent has some stepping stones that are required to gain the knowledge and experience first. The first step to accomplishing this goal was to attempt a glaciated peak... for me Mt. Rainier was the obvious choice. After doing my research on guiding services that run trips up the mountain, I decided to go with Alpine Ascents International(AAI). My reasoning for this was mainly due to the transportation to and from the mountain, it seemed higher speed and lower drag than any other guiding service on the mountain.
I arrived in Seattle on Monday the 25th. Feeling pretty confident about my urban jungle navigation skills, I decided to take the bus to my hotel. If you are a Seattle newbie, like me, might be worth the money to get a taxi, or shuttle to the Queen Anne district (where the AAI office is located, and my hotel the Mediterranean Inn). Anyways, an hour and a half later and two bus transfers under my belt I finally found my way to the AAI office for the gear check with everything (two carry-on bags and a 50lb duffel) in tow. The gear check went pretty well, the gurus at AAI know their stuff, and if you are missing anything essential they will help you out and rent you out top of the line equipment for a pretty fair price. The next day we met again at the office for our scheduled departure time of 0600. We all loaded up the little trailer and 15 passenger van for the trip to paradise. We stopped in Ashford for some food, and to pick up two more guides, and then arrived at Paradise Inn. We geared up and prepared for our hike up the Muir snowfield here and pretty soon we were off.
Getting ready at Paradise Inn
Our trip up the snowfield was pretty uneventful. It was very cloudy and rainy in patches. This was however a blessing in disguise because you cant see how slow your progress seems on the long and seemingly neverending snowfield.
Cascades from the approach on the Muir Snowfield
Wardrobe change halfway up the snowfield
Yours truly enjoying life and some sandwich
After making the trip up the snowfield, we finally arrived at Camp Muir, elev. 10800. We were one member lighter now on the team, due to altitude sickness. Anyways, we got to the Ghombu hut, which is the mountain hut that AAI splits with International Mountain Guides. This hut is pretty sweet, it has enough room for ~15 climbers because of a bookshelf style arrangment where you bunk. Had a gourmet dinner of quesadillas and quacamole prepared by our awesome guides. After dinner we all tucked into bed and got a very full night of sleep.
Clouds below Camp Muir
AAI dining tent at Camp Muir
The next day we got up had another gourmet meal of pancakes and eggs, and did a little snowschool. Here the guides taught us just the basic skills needed to get up the mountain. They went over self arrest, cramponing, roped travel and the basic use of avalanche transcievers. All basic skills, but extremely valuable none the less. After lunch we headed up to our high camp on the Ingraham glacier. This was my first view of a glacier and it was amazing.
Looking up the glacier from high camp
Team traveling back down to Camp Muir
Looking out the tent
After going over how summit day was going to be structured we ate some dinner, and called it an early night. Basically the following day was going to go like this: wake up at 0100, gear up and leave by 0130-0200, climb and summit and the come all the way back out to paradise for a return to Seattle by dinner. A very long day to say the least. After dinner we got our bags ready, and caught a few hours of shuteye. The cloud cap came off the summit, and the weather seemed to be lining up perfectly. We followed plan and began climbing up the glacier.
Sunrise on the upper slopes
Wardrobe change on the upper slopes... BRRR
The second rope in our team coming up the slopes
After climbing steadily for about 6 hours my rope crossed into the crater rim, and began the quick trip up to the summit. We summited around 0700 a pretty good time. On top we were greeted with great views of the cascades and surrounding terrain. The weather was relatively good, albeit a bit windy, but overall couldnt have asked for better weather. After a couple summit photos, we headed back down to the crater rim, re-geared up and began our descent.
Yours truly on top of Washington, St. Helens in the Background
View from the summit
Crevasse on the descent
Rapping one of the crevasses
View of the mountain from Muir snowfield
My glacier set-up
Jim, Vanessa and Chris(L-R) on the summit
P.S. Mt. Rainier is an amazing mountain, I had an outstanding adventure. If you are thinking of doing this mountain, I cannot recommend AAI enough for your guiding needs, they did an absolutely remarkable job. I would use them hands down for any future and hopefully higher climbs.
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