|Lindsay & her husband, Marcus on the summit of Rainier!|
Our climbing team made it to the summit on the morning of Wednesday August 4th and couldn’t have had nicer weather. It was sunny and there was little to no wind...exactly how I like it. The weather through the four days was very favourable although I did go through quite a lot of sunscreen!
|En route to the training area.|
I had some ideas as to what to expect during climbing school, but I couldn’t get over how hot it was when I was completely surrounded by snow. I was a little nervous going into the school because I was afraid that I would not be able to self arrest myself properly, but it turns out the guides were really good at demonstrating and coaching me through each type of self arrest. I wish they could have taught me how to avoid getting chunks of snow in my ears and up my nose, though. Part of the training involved learning how to move as part of a rope team, as well as manoeuvring on snow and rock with crampons. Having to lean forward and trust that the crampons would dig in and stop my forward motion was a little difficult to get used to, especially on the steeper slopes. It feels much different than how I would center my body weight when coming down scree or rock. By far the most fun of the school was sliding down the snow slopes. Who would have thought you could get up so much speed going down such a small hill!
|Taking a break during school.|
The night before the climb I was pretty anxious. Climbing school had gone pretty well and I was confident in my skills, but what I still didn’t know was how I was going to handle the altitude. I kept telling myself that I would be okay because I had previously climbed to a higher altitude, but it was still an unknown.
|Climbing up the Muir Snowfield en route to Muir.|
It was calm and very sunny all of the way up to Camp Muir. On the snow, I found it was difficult for me to stay in rhythm with the rest of the team because their stride lengths were much bigger than mine. During breaks (every hour for about 15 minutes), I would drink about 500 ml of water and refuel with either an energy bar, dried fruit, or granola bars. Pita chips were my favourite snack so I saved those for the summit.
At Camp Muir I had time to organize my gear for the climb, sip on my water, and eat (dehydrated meal – lasagne and more snacks), before getting into bed at 6 pm. I had thought about bringing a pair of sandals with me, but at the last second I decided I would forego the weight. My advice would be to bring them because there is some time at camp where you can just hang around and rest. It’s nice to do this without big hiking boots and sweaty socks. If someone forgets to tell you, use the mats to block the windows in the top bunks (not sure why I couldn’t have figured this out myself?). I think I probably got about 3 hours of decent sleep before our guides brought in the hot water. I slept in my base layers so it would be easier to get going in the morning as our team only had one hour to pack up our gear, eat (dried fruit and cream of wheat), go to the washroom, and put on our harnesses and crampons.
|Heading up a steeper section.|
When we set out at 1 am, it was dark, but a lot warmer than I had expected. At our first break, to my surprise, I was shivering the whole time we sat down. Some of our climbers were deciding to turn around and at one point I thought I may need to as well because of how cold I was, but when we started to move again, my shivering stopped and I was feeling pretty good. The summit climb ended up being a lot easier for me physically than I had expected. Mentally, I was waiting for the altitude to hit me, but it didn’t come until we started to descend. I felt a little light headed, but was surprised that I had not felt nauseous at all during the trip. Overall, I was very prepared for the challenges of the trip. Going over the ladder was easier than it sounded, but the jumping of the crevasses was certainly something I would not like to do very often. One thing I will mention that I found a little difficult on the climb was adjusting to being roped with the team. I had to force myself to move faster than I usually do, but also I had to be cognisant of the person in front and behind at all times, especially when going up and down the Clever on short ropes.
|Lindsay at High Break.|
My favourite part of the climb would have to be sitting at High Break (13,500 ft) and watching the sun come up. The clouds below were starting to billow up over Lil’ Tacoma and Mount Adams could be seen peaking out of the clouds. It was such a beautiful sight! It also meant that it would begin to warm up, so mentally it was a really good pick-me-up before making our final push to the summit.
|The whole team on top!|
I am so happy that my husband and I took the time to pack train as much as we did prior to the climb. If you can do this climb with someone else it certainly saves on the amount of weight you have to carry up the mountain with you (my husband and I shared a lot of stuff rather than bringing duplicate items). My pack was pretty light compared to what I actually trained with so I found I could handle the weight easily on both days of the climb. I am sure that the resistance training that I did helped with the ability to carry my gear, but I believe it also played a role in my recovery. My body didn’t really fatigue as much as I thought it might. Other than a little tightness in my right calf muscle, I felt like I had just done a regular workout. I thank our RMI guides and Whittaker Mountaineering for helping make the climb such an enjoyable experience. Now all that is left is to figure out what peak will be next!