| Mt Rainier via Emmons Glacier
Before getting to Seattle, I flew into Denver for a day, driving up to Mt. Evans, doing some hiking, running- torturing my lungs and my head. I actually didn't have any signs of altitude sickness. Not bad being from the east coast. Three hours on the summit was good enough, back to Denver for a an evening flight to Seattle. Now to the good part...
Flying into Seattle I was treated with this site. It does look intimidating.
Day 1, July 4
Overnight at Alpine Inn, Crystal Mountain (about 1 hour 45 minutes from Seattle)
Met with the guides (International Mountain Guides) and the climbing team at 2pm to go over necessary and unnecessary gear/clothing/food for the climb. Most people rented gear so extra time was spent on fitting clothes. I brought all of my gear so I didn't have to play around with sizing. Personal food/gear along with team carry weighted us down at about 50lbs. I brought a lot of food with me. I was just below 60lbs.
Following gear check, packed and repacked my backpack for the morning. Dinner time approached quickly, everyone loaded up on carbs and protein. I had a fried pasta dinner with vegetables, and plenty of bread. The food was very good.
The night was cool. I left my window open, fresh air was good for the lungs and the nearby creek put me to sleep almost immediately. At about midnight, I was waken by fireworks, some firecracker heads decided that it would be fun to set them off middle of the night. This lasted for about a half hour. I fell back asleep for another 6 hours.
Day 2, July 5
Woke up just before 6:30am to eat breakfast at the restaurant. Went over the climb details for the day.
Loaded up the trailer and drove off to White River Trail Head (30 minutes). The guides registered with the rangers and at 9:30am we begun the approach hike (approximately 6.5 miles). Starting elevation was 4,400.
The hike started off on a somewhat flat terrain, then it took us along a creek, crossing it multiple times, up some switchbacks, rocky areas and deeper into the woods before reaching Glacier Basin camp site. Didn't feel the elevation gain (maybe 2,000 feet), it was very easy.
Continued onto InterGlacier where we put on boots, crampons and helmets. The trek on the glacier gained elevation rather quickly. Set up camp on Inter Glacier at elev 8,200. The weather was awesome, sunny with good wind. After the camp was set (gotta love digging tent platforms in frozen snow and ice) and the sun begun to go down, it got much cooler and winds picked up quite a bit. At one point, I was standing with my back to the wind being able to tilt my weight towards the wind at about 30 degrees without falling over backwards. While everyone was inside of tents I was taking pictures of the sunset and scenery. Eventually I got tired and went to sleep. The night was very windy, earplugs, and the wind walls we built gave us a good restful sleep.
Day 3, July 6
Woke up early, ate some breakfast (oatmeal with hot cocoa for me) and packed up the tents. Geared up and up we went. Halfway before the top of the ridge we did an hour of self arrest, cramponing, and rope travel skills. This was a quick refresher as I took Denali prep seminar the year before on the other side of Mt. Rainier.
Continued onto the Steamboat Prowl, crossed the ridge onto the other side where we were greeted by heavy fog.
A descent through a steep section of snow and rock was the greet to the Emmons Glacier. From there you could see Camp Surman and the big crevasses everywhere. We crossed some smaller cracks and navigated through a couple of bigger ones. The route was very visible.
Set up camp at Camp Shurman. The weather was phenomenal, low winds, sunny- just perfect. We had a huge meal at about 4pm, and went to sleep by 6pm. Out wake up call was to be somewhere between 12am to 2am. While in the tent, there was a group of people who set up shop right next to us. The only way to secure tents was to tie them onto the big rocks. I lost the count how many of those rocks fell onto our side of the tent. Sloppy work on their part. During and after their camp set up they were very loud. We were getting a bit ticked off. Even with earplugs you could hear them babble. I finally fell asleep, and got about 5 hours of z time.
Today's trek was only about 2 hours, not bad at all, even with the heavy packs, and 2,000 feet elevation gain.
Day 4, July 7
The actual wake up call was approx 1:30am. We had some hots, geared up and departed the camp at 3am, give or take. The climb started off rather easy but by the time we were half hour into the climb, and well within the corridor, you could tell that it would be a bastard of a time in some places. It does get freaking steep in some places.
We took 10 minute breaks every hour, our first was at sunrise, what a breathtaking view. The weather was cold with winds, I'd say 30 pmh.
After leaving the corridor, we begun switchbacking, and navigating, avoiding seracs and large crevasses. The climb got more difficult, had to do fancy footwork with them crampons. At one point we were crossing a pretty much vertical wall that allowed us to get to the other side of a very wide crevasse. One wrong move wold have resulted by a 1,000 foot fall and a slide into a super sized crevasse. A couple of snow pickets and an ice screw did the trick.
From there, we continued to switchback and eventually hit the saddle from where you could see the final push to the summit. Just before and after the saddle the terrain eases for a bit. At that point we were somewhat tired.
The last 300-400 hundred feet of steeper snow below the summit was pissing us off. But, we quickly got pumped and slowly but surely reached the summit.
The best thing was that we were the only group to summit via Emmons, and had the summit to ourselves. I am not sure if anyone summited via DC that day. Aside from our group we didn't see anyone. I guess the next say, Ed Viesturs, Peter Whittaker and NFL Commish climbed DC route.
From Camp Surman, you could see pretty much the whole route.
You don't think of it as significant, but it is. There are may spots where you say wtf, where is the summit. Overall, the climb was fantastic. Everyone in our group was fun, the guides were excellent. One of them, whom I climbed with before, just came back from Denali and Lhotse. Heard quite a few stories that are motivating to climb higher.
Day 5, July 8
Pack up camp and do the reverse trip to the trailhead. The only difference was that we glissaded on Inter Glacier. That was lots of fun, and helped us get down quicker.
From the left...Myself, David from Seattle, and Bob from Chicago.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):