Mt. Rainier - Summit #6

Christina and Christina under moonlight at our first camp. We started climbing very late in the day like I always do to avoid the heat. We arrived at Muir just as it became dark enough to require a headlamp. Paradise parking lot area lights can be seen 4.5 miles and ~5000 feet lower in the distance.

I need to keep this entry pretty short, but here are the highlights:

  • 2 night climb via the Disappointment Cleaver route, camping at Muir then Ingraham Flats.
  • My 7th attempt on this route, 5th successful summit. I have one other summit via the Emmons route.
  • I took 2 noobs named Christina and Christina - it was their 1st attempt and success on a glaciated mountain. They are from Colorado and had been training on the 14ers down there (which of course are nothing like Rainier)…but they did great, especially with the altitude. No problems.
  • As we reached Muir around 10:30 PM, a guy in a leather jacket with patches all over it showed up. He also had dress shoes on. Solo. He had no idea what he was doing, and had no overnight gear. Funny and quirky, unless you were forced to deal with his unpreparedness and ruin your own climb. Generally it’s not cool to come up here grossly unprepared because if weather turns, people will have to deal with your unpreparedness. I was up periodically all night checking on a time-lapse, I saw him leave at dawn. Looking back I wished I would’ve learned a bit more about him. What were those patches for? Was he a Boy Scout? How did he feel about the Boy Scouts not allowing gays to join, yet having issues with men molesting boy scouts like the Catholic church? Why was a candy bar that was like Snickers yet w/o the peanuts called “Milky Way”?
  • The route was in the best shape I’ve ever seen it. The fewest amount of crevasses, the least amount of rockfall debris. Weather was close to perfect (no rainbows though).
  • We got super low on gas (i guess 330g) is not enough for 3-people for 3-days, or just barely enough. I quit boiling and just melted water (which I usually do alone) and we rationed a bit but did OK. I used my new MSR Reactor stove and it was much nicer than a JetBoil due to wind resistance and capacity. 
  • We hit the jackpot at Ingraham with a pre-carved out tent platform with walls, a pit near the entrance, and a snow bathroom nearby. By big roomy 3-man, 4-pound tent fit perfectly.
  • I got only 30 of minutes sleep the night before summiting due to a team member snoring :). I suffered a decent dose of Altitude Sickness from 12,200 on up and it didn’t go away until we were back at camp at 11,000. Was not having fun because of this, but it wasn’t bad enough to have to turn around early.
  • Tina fell on a snow section coming down the DC. She immediately stopped herself by self arresting after yelling “falling”. The other Christina and I were already on rock, short-roped ahead of her, and watched her catch herself. Snow was super mush so I wasn’t worried, but good job Tina.
  • Going back to the car we passed through Paradise and it was beautiful. Wild flowers blooming, low clouds moving in and out casting shadows across the landscape. Breathtaking as usual for this time of year. I ran back ahead and picked the girls up at the main parking lot in the car. Scale Burgers from Elbe powered us home.
Both girls did an awesome job and were fun to joke around with (which we did most of the time until the end when everyone just wanted to be back at the car). They have a similar sense of humor as me in that there aren’t many lines that cannot be crossed. Ideally we would’ve had more time to go over crevasse safety, but the route only had a few step-over crevasses which we crossed in the cold of nigh/early morning, so super low risk. I’m always scared of rockfall on this route, and for good reason. I’ve seen people almost killed, and people have been killed by rockfall. We moved quickly through the high-risk sections above and below Ingraham Flats w/o incident. 

Still from a motion-controlled time-lapse above Camp Muir. St. Helens is on the left, the moon is in the middle, and the climber’s hut is on the right.

Our team making an abstract piece with light and lens flare.

My pack was 70 pounds, which is typical. Most of the extra weight is from the Waterford crystal goblet set I bring to drink hot cocoa like a bourgeois.

Tina lower on the trail. The intimidating crevasses and seracs of the Nisqually Glacier contrast with late July wildflowers.

Me offering Christina and Christina a break, pretending they needed one when I really did (around 13,300 ft).