Peak(s):  Mt. Rainier - 14,411 feet
Date Posted:  07/06/2009
Modified:  07/13/2009
Date Climbed:   07/02/2009
Author:  lordhelmut

 A very American idea  

Regardless of the abundance of Rainier reports here, I feel there isn't much you can do more American over the 4th of July than climb a peak such as this and enjoy a nice warm Coors afterwards. Anyways, here are the highlights.......

My buddy Glen had sent me a link earlier in the summer showing a 209$ roundtrip flight from Denver to Seattle. For some reason, I put off getting it till it skyrocketed in price and I came to a crossroads. I could either prolong the trip to later in the summer or next year, but I had been doing that for the last 4 years and figured its now or never. So I came up with what should have been my plan Z and decided to drive 1,261 miles. Logic and reason have never been my fortay, but this decision took on another dimension. I desperately searched for partners, mainly to split gas with, but nothing surfaced. Between me not wanting to screw over my buddy Glen and my passion to finally see this peak in the flesh, I decided 22 hours in a car couldn't be all that bad.

To make a long story short, the drive there was pretty miserable. Southern Wyoming, Eastern Oregon, Eastern Washington and pretty much all of Southern Idaho are pretty desolate. I apologize in advance if anyone grew up in Pendleton, Oregon, Richland, Washington, Rock Springs, Wyoming or Mountain Home, Idaho, but I'm hopefully not alone when I say these places are the lands that time forgot. I might've well been better off driving to Grand Junction back and forth 6 times in one day than do this drive ever again. I guess whats done been done though, I did it, I saw it and now I know what its all about. It'll be a cool story one day I imagine. On the bright side, Utah was a sweet drive, especially SLC on the way home with a nice sunset. Boise seemed like a cool town as well.

When I was finally greeted with this view, I immediately forgot about the prior 20 hours.....


This was somewhere along rt.12 west of White Pass en route to Packwood, Wa. Definately a cool drive.

I met up with Glen and his friend Chad (a local navy guy who made it through 9 weeks of the BUDS program and will be deploying to Afghanistan for a 6 month tour in 2010, interesting guy) at the Whittaker Bunkhouse, we got some last minute supplies at the RMI store and had some brats at the grill before we set off for Big Creek Campground a few miles down the road. We set up our pads and bags for some shut eye and sorted out gear for the following 48 hours.

Getting shit ready

Alarm went off at 530am and we were at Paradise about an hour later to figure out climbing permits and what not. 30$ and a hot breakfast later, we were ready for the approach.

Our journey begins.....

The hike up to Muir Camp went well. Apparently the week before, there was some nasty weather, but we lucked out big time. Blue skies and light winds were the norm, it was an absolute pleasure.

Glen and Chad near the Muir snowfield

We reached camp around noon and found a spot below the guided huts, away from the rest of the climbers. It wasn't very crowded at the camp, but there was a large group with RMI. We setup camp, melted snow and proceded to touch up on some crevasse rescue and self arrest before we cooked some ricotta cheese tortolini for dinner.

Glen and Chad enjoying the view towards Adams at Muir Camp

We tried to get some shuteye for a couple hours between 7 and 10:30pm. Glen claimed to have gotten some decent sleep, but Chad and I pretty much counted sheep and just prepared for a really long day. We hit the trail around 11:30pm to a very clear night. We roped up around Ingraham Flats and reached the Cleaver around 2 or 3.

A very deep crevasse

I still had my reservations about the decision to drive all this way for one mountain. This was until the sun finally began to pop up. These shots were the reason I didn't regret this trip.....

Looking South (this will be on my wall soon)

Sunrise to the North

RMI group, thats an easy 25 grand

The switchbacks below the crater rim was an absolute slog, but we finally reached the summit around a little before 8am to some more clear skies and minimal winds. Some guy on the summit made me feel a good deal better when he admitted to driving 24 hours straight from Durango back in the 90's to climb Rainier. He also took a shot of me for proof of my summit....


Once Chad reached the top, we decided we needed to head down soon before the snow got too soft. It was damn hot and there were some snow bridges to cross above the cleaver.

Little Tahoma on the descent

And a f**king big crevasse

We got a little off trail earlier that morning in the dark and were trying, with no luck, to navigate our way around this thing. Pretty unnerving looking down one of those in the pitch black. Definately have to be on your toes.

We reached camp soon after, quickly packed up while we still had motivation and hightailed it back to the truck and eventually back to the Whittaker Bunkhouse in Ashford to slam some Manny's Pale Ale, 2 bratwursts, 2 slices of pizza and 2 bags of sweet maui onion chips. We definately ate like a bunch of primates. We agreed 93$ was out of our price range at the Bunkhouse, so we headed back to the campground down the road, paid the 20$, laid out our pads and bags and I witnessed Chad and Glen snoring within 2 minutes. Out cold.

Next day I woke up at 6am and decided to head home, since I was running out of money and had some Dale's Pale Ale's with my name on them back in Denver for the 4th. It was a 21 hour straight drive and I was downright dizzy when I stepped out of the car at 3am saturday morning. Now thats its all said and done, I'm glad I did it, this mountain is definately worth it.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

02/05/2011 00:22
Congrats, man! Glad to hear your trip came to fruition.

”It was damn hot” - I can relate

”trying to woo a girl on the dance floor in Lodo saturday” - Gonna give us a trip report on that?

”this mountain is definately worth it” - hell yeah

I love your John Muir quote shot.


05/02/2011 14:23
Awesome climb man. Looks like some sweet weather too. I think I‘ll be giving you a ring soon to hear more about the trip.


No such thing
07/07/2009 15:15
as too many Rainier reports.

That first look at the peak really blows you away, doesn‘t it? And then, your first really big crevasse. It‘s like being a kid again and seeing fireworks for the first time. Just takes your breath away...


07/07/2009 16:31
thanks guys, although long, a very rewarding, inspiring trip, something you don‘t see everyday in CO, really does blow you away, hard to desribe, just have to go see it or do it.

Aubrey - lets just say I didn‘t scare anyone away like times past. Love the Muir shot too by the way, felt like we were embarking on this great journey, only to return to our car with 10,000 people at Paradise.


11/30/2010 17:28
Nice shots ... love those crevasse pix. I never get tired of re-living that climb through other‘s trip reports. And, the drive ... what can I say ... we've done that drive to and from Washington at least 10 times. Wait until you start exploring the North Cascades' summits ... betcha make that drive again. Thanks for posting ... happy trails!


good job bro
07/07/2009 17:46
nice report as always! climbing big mountains is all about dedication and determination. and when you have to drive through places like southern Wyoming to just get to the mountain! thats some dedication! That was an awesome climb!


Good Job
07/07/2009 22:11
I was in the RMI group behind you. I saw you guys throughout the day and afterwards drinking beers at the RMI ”Bar”. Congrats on the summit and I‘ll have my TR up soon.


Glad you made it...
01/19/2011 03:38
...and sorry this silly ”having to work” thing got in my way this year. What have you been up to, Brian?
Anyone for 2010?


07/11/2009 00:34
Hmmmm.....Ricotta Cheese Tortellini Can‘t argue there!
Graet job Brian & Glen in getting this one done. That drive HAD to have been torture.
That summit must have been wonderful especially seeing a sunrise like that.
And thanks again for the tidbits of beta. Awesome stuff!

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2017®, 14ers Inc.