Mt. Rainier Summit Attempt
May 26th - 30th (Wednesday - Sunday)
I have lived in Western Washington State my entire life. I have gazed upon the mountain any day the weather permitted a clear view. You know you're in the Northwest on a nice day when you hear the saying 'The mountain is out today'.
I arrived in Ashford, WA around 1pm on Wednesday afternoon. The drive up was pleasant even though it was raining buckets the whole way. The weather was not giving me a strong feeling of confidence for the coming days adventure. I checked in at the RMI office, learned my way around the campus, grabbed my rental gear, and found my bunkhouse room (#3). The entire area exudes a rustic ambiance.
While picking up rental gear I began to meet some of my climbing companions. There was so much gear it was a bit overwhelming. Boots, Gaiters, Crampons, Climbing Pants, Gortex Pants, Fleece Layer, Soft Shell Jacket, Gortex Jacket, Parka, Ice Axe, Trekking Poles, Helmet, Head Lamp, Sleeping Bag, Climbing Harness, Avalanche Transceiver, Sun Glasses, Goggles and Backpack. Then there was the gear we had to buy or bring: Socks, Long-Underwear, Base Layer Shirt, Balaclava, Nalgene Bottles and Food. All told the backpack weighed in around 40lbs. once loaded up for the climb.
Prior to arriving in Ashford I did not know how many people would were signed up for this expedition. At orientation I learned that eighteen had signed up for the climb. However, the day before two people called ahead and dropped out. Sixteen of us were present Wednesday afternoon. During orientation we went over what to expect over the next four days, what the mountain would be like, general safety and procedure information, we were introduced to all the gear, and we met our guides. (Andy, Gabriel 'Gabi', Jason, Lindsay, Solveig, and Tim)
Thursday was training day. Everyone was up and moving relatively early, getting breakfast, coffee, and gear sorted. We all gathered at the staging tent around 8am. The guides made sure we had everything packed for the day’s activities. We loaded into the shuttle bus, and off to the mountain we went. Ashford is about a 45min ride from Paradise, the highest visitors center on Mt. Rainier. We were a jovial, talkative bunch on the ride up to the mountain. Everyone seemed in good spirits. We arrived at the visitor’s center, gathered our gear, and set out up the snowfield to begin our climb training. The day progressed well. Our guides instructed us on rest step, pressure breathing, ice axe use and safety, how to ascend, how to descend, rope travel, self-arrest, team arrest, glaciating, and general mountaineering techniques.