Mt Rainier 2014 
Thursday, May 29, 2014, 09:13 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Mike and I attempted to climb Mt. Rainier for the 2nd time in early May. Like the last time, we had a major snowstorm load the upper slopes just before arriving, which led to avalanches (or at least avalanche concerns).

After a 4 hour delay, we got into Seattle on Thursday night (Fri morning) at 2am. We got the rental car and crashed at Laura's place. The next day was 50+ mph winds on the mountain and blizzard conditions, so we opted to stay in rainy Seattle. I walked Pearcy in the morning and we got some good breakfast and Rainier Beer for a post-climb celebration. To get firsthand beta of conditions, we went to Queen Anne to talk with Carrie (a mountain guide friend with Alpine Ascents International) who reported "nuclear winter" conditions on Thurs when she got off the mountain.

Saturday, we headed out at dawn and made it to the mountain in heavy snows at about 8am. The rangers told us there were very few people (just us) getting climbing permits and no one had summitted in a week. With the wind loading and fresh snow, we knew it wasn't shaping up to be good for us. We got our 60-65 lbs packs and harnesses on and began up the mountain. After about 500-1000 ft, we had broken through the cloud layer and could see the peak. It was glorious and intimidating - 8000' separated us from the top. The skinning was slow going but we shed layers and worked our way up the Muir Snowfield slowly. We reached Camp Muir with the usual blister stops around 4pm. Set up the tent. Cooked. Watched sunset. Temp dropped. Brushed teeth. Slept.

Alarm went off at 3am. The winds had been howling since we went to bed. Sounded like sustained 20 mph winds with 40+ mph gusts. It didn't seem like it was going to be our day with the wind loading. Mike said he didn't want to go and I said I was 50/50. Mike got out to move the backpacks to a more secure location and noticed 4 headlights crossing the cowlitz glacier. I changed my mind and said we should go for it, but Mike vetoed the idea. So in the end, we took the NWAC guide's advice and sat things out for a day. After breakfast and a relaxing morning. Mike and I roped up and crossed the cowlitz to check on the Ingraham's conditions. We ditched our skis at the base of Cathedral Gap climb and went up. Up top, we post-holed to our waist for 1/3 mile, cursed some guides on skis, and took a look at the route. Disappointment Cleaver looked scary--even a small slide would take out a climbing team and send them off cliff and into crevasses. The Ingraham Direct, while chewed up, looked like the safer route. We thought about hitting it at midnight and trying to make our 2pm flight on Monday, while we went back to Camp Muir. We skied across the cowlitz roped up, and thought about options. I wanted to see Laura, who was getting back to town that night, and I didn't want to pay $500 to change flights so I was in favor of bailing given that the conditions were probably still dangerous. Only one team of 2 summitted that day and it took them 14+ hours to make the journey. We had skis so it would have been quicker, but there was still no real hope of making the flight. Mike was less convinced, but once he saw the Sunday crowds at Camp Muir (dozens of people!), he wanted to get out of there too. We tore down camp and popped our skis on and headed down. Aside from sticky, wet snow at the bottom, it went well. I make the trip with a 50+ lb pack without a single crash. Mike had more trouble with the splitboard but we still made good time. We went back to Seattle a little dejected and sad, but in good health and ready to give it another shot in a year or two.

MOVIE!









More photos are here.
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