Peak(s):  Mount Rainier - 14,410 feet
Date Posted:  02/25/2009
Modified:  02/27/2009
Date Climbed:   07/01/2008
Author:  zacob
 Dissapointment Clever  

Friday June 27th 6:30 am 4,950 ft
With a combination of fear and excitement I left my driveway which is northeast of Denver. By 11:30 pm I had made my destination Walla Walla, WA there I met Kent, at his daughter and son-in-law's home. I caught a few hours sleep.

Saturday june 28th 7:00am
Kent and his Family are Seventh Day Adventist (they attend Church on Saturday). When in Rome do as the Romans do. After a full day of driving Friday and Saturday morning spent in Church I am a little confused as to what day it is...from this point on for the duration of the trip I really didn't know what day it was.

Saturday afternoon is spent with final gear prep and finally we load up for the 5+ hour drive to somewhere north of Portland to stay with more of Kent's Family and pick up the 3rd member or our team, Kent's 69 year old Father Bill.

We spend the night in what turns out to be a $1.6 million home. WOW what a place, it was just amazing. It was the nicest home I had ever been in and the people were SO nice I asked them to adopt me... no luck there..

Suday June 29th 8:00am
We leave for Rainier a 3-4 hour drive

The whole time glimpse of Rainier humble and excite us. Finally we arrive, get our selves checked in, and get ready to go.

Credit for the photos goes to Kent. my camera was acting up on the trip only the guide party above the Cleaver and the picture looking out of the Crevasse at Kent are mine..Thanks for the Photos Kent.

Here is a shot of the mountain from the Muir Snowfield

Sunday June 29 3:30 pm Strapped up and ready

The Muir snow field is an odd place. There are so many people from the surrounding cities that are just there to play on the snow as well as all those crazy people, like us, there with a goal. It's just an odd atmosphere on a summer afternoon, the following picture only captures about a quarter of the people visible as the mountain and not the people was the intent of the photo.


Slowly but surely the crowds begin to thin. Kent is a machine and is hiking quickly, pulling away from us. I am struggling under the weight of my pack wondering why I ever wanted to come climb this mountain to begin with...In early February in a skiing fall I had broken my left shoulder as well as damaging the AC joint. As a result I didn't train for this and I could tell I was in for a short climb or a suffer fest.

Thankfully Bill's pace was about the same as mine.

June 29 7:00 pm 8,900 feet
We are noticing some weather moving in. Only problem is at this point our team is spread out all over the Snow Field. Bill is 200 yards to the right. Kent is now out of sight. By 7:30 it is starting to rain/snow/sleet (oh yeah and lighting) Bill and I are now climbing side by side. I am wanting to stop for the night Bill is wanting to push on for the Hut at Muir. Either way it doesn't matter Kent is still somewhere up ahead and doesnt have a shlelter as I am carrying the tent. We have to find him. Luckily Kent still wears a pair late 1980's green climbing pants I spot him 100 yards to our right. I convince Bill that it is Kent and we need to head over there. Kent is digging out a tent platform somewhat sheltered by a large rock. We get the tent up quickly with only a few exciting moments of radiating tent poles from the electricity in the air. The lighting lasts for maybe an hour or two, however long it was it was intense. We later hear that the Muir hut was standing room only because the lighting was so close it was too dangerous to be in a tent just 600 feet above us. After the storm seems to pass I step out of our tent to a world of white. The Clouds had socked in the whole mountain in the northern night sky there is nothing but white, there was no up, down, right, or left there was only white.

June 30 7:00 am 9,4000 feet Sunday back up early packing up camp and heading to Muir.

Kent leaves early Bill and I leave at our time we know we have a short hike to Muir and rest above. Each at our own pace arrive at the amazing play ground that is camp Muir. At 10,000 feet with a Rangers Hut, guide/client huts, the climbers huts and scattered tents it really does seem to be an odd oasis in the snow. We spent a lot of time eating, drinking, playing with my stove, and just generally hanging out. We take some time to work on crevasse rescue as Bill hasn't really had any training.
Notice the handicapped sign on the out house.. the note above reads something like this. Bottom half door is broken, to use restroom climb over bottom door.

By 6:00pm the activity begins to slacken as we all bed down with anticipation of a summit attempt the next day.

June 30 11:30pm Camp Muir 10,000 feet:
Wake up call it is time to eat and rope up and hit the trail. We are up and moving excitement is building we are actually going for the summit we all report that we are feeling strong. We gobble down our breakfast and head out. We can see one guided team crossing the glacier below us. We tie in and begin, it is now 1:30 am July 1.

With a steady pace we move across the Cowlitz Glacier and approach Cathedral rocks. The boot path is soild and we feel we are making good time however it is hard to judge as the world is nothing more than a small circle of light in a dark expanse.

We are catching a two man team as they are climbing above us on Cathedral rocks luckily they don't kick anything down on us and we finally pass them a little later in the morning. It is still dark and time and distance seem to be abstract concepts. The world is nothing more than a pattern of steps and breath. Every once in a while I steal a peak ahead to see the lights of the guided team ahead of us. We see them ascending something steep... Ah we have reached the wait their lights are going down... NO.. its just a bump on the Ingrham flats that don't see all that flat to me. As we crest this bump we see the lights moving steadily up, the Cleaver at last.

We continue the climb up, it is still dark and time is still something I am not tracking. I am only hoping for daylight and a blue sky. We follow the ropes upward debating to clip in or not. I keep asking myself who put these in and are they really safe or not. Half the time I clip the other half I just trust my own skill. We top out the Cleaver and take a break. The guided team in front of us soon loads up and heads off. We feel confident and strong at this point and maybe we spend a little to long resting here. It was dark with no hint of the sun when we arrived, but all to quickly the sun is coming up.

from the top of the DC looking at the guided party above

The higher we go the more the sunrise begins to reveal the wonderful world that we are climbing in. The expanse and distance that we have covered is breath taking.
July 1st early morning around 12,500 feet


The mountain is getting step and the crater rim seems so close but every step seems to only get us inches closer. The rest breaks are getting more frequent. Soon we meet up with a guide hurrying two clients down not sure if they made the top I wasn't in the mood for conversation anyway. We have to be getting close
tick tock tick tock...time is passing but even in the daylight my excitement is starting to wain we have been hiking for hours and the months actually years of injuries have taken their toll on my fitness this is now a suffer fest but each time I look up I realize I am closer. Conversation between us has ceased except for the occasional how are you doing. Ready to move okay lets go. I look back and see that even Kent has a spent look on his face. I remind myself that this is my time. Normally I am strongest above 13,500 I keep telling myself time to kick it in but I just don't have the gas. Then all of sudden I see rocks... then I see blue sky we have made it.

Wait, no we haven't, we still have to cross the crater to get to the true summit. So after a short break for some food and water we head over. Kent is back in machine mode Bill and I are pressing onward but slowly.
at last around 10:30am July 1 2008 we stand on the summit of Mount Rainier

We take time for individual photos and time for some summit shots and then look for the summit register we find it off to the north. The Science teacher in Kent takes over and he heads off to explore and look at the steam vents. Me, I sit down to soak it all in. We finally meet back up and decided it's time to leave. I hang out just a little longer. I start walking back across the crater and my mind wanders back to an 8 year old boy asking his dad if we can climb this mountain. We are on a family outing to Paradise inn and spent the day snowshoeing. I remember that same 8 year old boy telling his mom and dad one day I am going to climb that mountain. Here I was 30 years later making good on that promise. I am not to proud a man to admit I began to cry. I began to pray and thank the Lord for my good fortune and thank him for all those back home that were praying for my safe return. As much as I wanted to stay it was time to head back to the family I love and sorely missed.
--just a note to those who are planning to climb, the summit crater has crevasses. On our return we talked to some guys who had camped in the crater and mentioned to us we shouldn't have un-roped as one of their teammates fell in a crevasse the night before when he went to take a leak.--

The journey back down still had a few hidden gems. Both Kent and I took the opportunity to drop down inside a bergschrund/crevasse at 13,000 feet which resulted in some of the most commented on photos from the trip.



The crevasse foray behind us we kick it in to gear and head back down the mountain. The day has gotten long the sun has been too warm, once again we are hiking in sun softened snow and the descent near the cleaver is dangerous, but we make it.

Now we are down to Ingraham flats and we move as quick as we can back up and over the bump. Cathedral rocks is our next goal. Down the rocks and across the cowlitz. Back at camp Muir at last. We pack up and take off. Each of us has tied a plastic sheet sled to our packs. Kent tries to ride his like a horse, I opt to lay down on my pack and ride it like a sled. My idea was best I take off down the Muir snowfield quickly leaving the mountain of my dreams behind. However Kent designed his sled better and using my method of riding soon passes me. Soon my pack is filling with ice and snow and its no longer the childhood sled dream but more like a lead weight. I stop for one last look and a few pictures. I really can't believe this has happened how many people make a promise as an 8 year old child I am going to do "x" some day and then as an adult get to live that dream.
July 1st 6:30pm we are off the mountain

July 2nd 1:00am
We arrive back in Walla Walla Kent and Bill are greeted with warm hugs from their loved ones. I am jealous as mine are still over 1000 miles away they know I am safe but I am ready to be home.

July 2nd 5:00am my alarm goes off
10 minutes later I am on the road driving home.

July 2nd 10:30 pm I arrive at a friends house in Laramie Wy

July 3rd (stop for fire works)
Thrusday July 3rd 2:00pm

I arrive at my wife's work with flowers, home safe and sound at last.

Hope you enjoyed my trip report, sorry for the emotion in the report but as I said, it was the culmination of a 30 year dream, it was a trip I will never forget.

For those of you wanting to do the DC and wanting pictures that give you a better idea of what the route is really like or if you liked this glimpes of our pictures you can find all of them at

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice report!
02/05/2011 00:22
Zacob, you did a great job of conveying what I feel on many mountains ... that overwhelming emotion and thankfulness to God for not only His wonderful creations, but giving us the physical ability and appreciation to enjoy them. I remember when I first saw Mt. Rainier the day before we started our climb ... I found myself thinking, "what in the hell am I doing here?!?!". We had spent so many months planning and training and ended up having a blessed trip and successful summit. That climb changed my life ... I've really come to appreciate glacier climbing in the northwest. I'm so glad that you were able to realize your dream and to share that with us. Happy trails!


02/25/2009 15:41
I climbed from the Emmons side in 97‘ and summit day was crappy weather. You had an excellent day. Good report


Great Report
02/25/2009 17:21
Great read and a great report. My trip for Rainier is practically the same dates as yours. I am going June 28-July 2. And I am doing the DC route also. Thanks for a great TR.

Mel McKinney

02/25/2009 18:27
I‘m so glad your wish and goal came true. Very touching.
Cool photo of the guided group ahead of you. Almost surreal.

Prairie Native

Nice report!
02/26/2009 05:37
How steep is the DC? Just curious.


11/30/2010 17:28
I'm glad you finally wrote this up. I enjoyed reading it; the part about the thunderstorms is interesting. You guys are fortunate you weren't higher than you were! The eighth picture showing the guy with the rope laying across his neck cracks me up. He‘s got that ‘too much gear‘ look about him!

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