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|Mailed to WacList||07/25/2006|
What better to do when it's a zillion degrees, than go up Mount Rainier?|
So Christy and I took off early Thursday from Seattle for Paradise.
We got permits etc. and set off for Muir, with me optimistically carrying
skis, and Christy wisely having the 20-pound lighter pack. We got to
Muir soon enough (more-or-less beating the heat) and carved out a nice
campsite in the snow away from the shelter, to hopefully avoid all the midnight risers. Then we lazed away the afternoon reading, and bouldering on the hut. Dinner was fresh salad, strawberries, and Top Ramen (well, two out of three isn't bad).
Friday we slept in, but eventually even Christy got up, and we headed
for Ingraham Flats about 10. We talked to some people there and
looked at Disappointment Cleaver for awhile. No rocks were falling
off it, and we felt fine, so we decided to continue up and bivy on the
summit. Up we went. We had a minor glitch when we encountered three rangers who were descending the cleaver, who said it was too dangerous to climb in the afternoon, that they didn't like our party of only two people, and that we also had to change our permit (love those permits) if we wanted to bivy on the summit. Eventually the rangers relented (I guess they just wanted to vent) and we continued up. Conditions were easy step-kicking since there was a nice boot-beaten track up the snow. There was one iffy crevasse crossing, but RMI had put in four pickets which made it pretty hard to fall in. We met two more descending rangers above this crevasse. They were nice, and we said we would help them if by chance they punched through the crevasse bridge (they crossed safely). Then we basically just had a fun time hiking up the mountain, admiring the view and the deep blue sky, enjoying the solitude, and happy to be there. The weather was superb, with just a slight breeze to help us keep cool. It was perfect climbing, ten out of ten. Usually climbing Rainier is just a bunch of stumbling along sleepily in the dark; this time it was really just plain fun and we didnít even feel tired.
We got to the crater about 4 pm, dropped our gear and hiked over to
the summit. There we took the obligatory photos and wrote silly things in the register. At the summit there was about 30 knots of wind, but down in the crater it was pretty calm. So we hiked back to our gear, found some steam caves at the crater edge for an emergency refuge just in case the weather got bad, and then made a little snow wall to bivy behind in a calm part of the crater. We had our freeze-dried dinner (only 400 calories in the dumb thing, Christy complained all night that she was hungry...) Then we jumped in the bivy sack with our light sleeping bags, admired the clouds that had appeared (I was a little worried I admit), and talked and read until dark.
The clouds came and went all night. The stars were fantastic when we
could see them! The wind gradually died and by morning it was dead
calm. We were a little cold (it was below freezing) but slept OK,
although I think the altitude kept us awake a bit. At dawn we awakened
to the sound of climbers arriving at the crater (my god these people
must get up early!) and a beautiful golden sunrise lighting the summit
below the clouds.
I made hot granola for breakfast (Christy says I'm weird) and then we
packed up and took off. Down we went, with easy cramponing and later
good plunge stepping. We were able to easily bypass the other
climbers (since they were going up near the summit while we were going
down), and our early descent also avoided all party-inflicted rockfall on the cleaver, which is one thing I had been worried about.
Soon enough we were back at Muir. We sat around, with the weather still cool and cloudy. But unfortunately we couldnít stay on the mountain forever. So eventually we descended back into the hordes above Paradise and down into the 90 degree heat. I was able to ski as far as Pebble Creek but the snow was too sun-cupped to be good skiing. Back at the parking lot we had some final fun push-starting the car (see, tourists are good for something). Food. Home.