Friday, September 17, 2010

Allison's Rainier Trip Report

Well...we're back and I'm pretty sure my whole body could go for a massage right about now. It was not the greatest weekend to go climb a Mountain, weather wise. We started out on Friday with our gear check and the meet and greet. Climbing school soon followed on Saturday morning with a bit of a fog and cooler weather, though we did stay pretty dry throughout the day. We learned a great deal in a short amount of time and I really felt confident in our skills to go tackle Mt Rainier.

Climbing School Photos

Our hike up to Muir was crappy. It was foggy, raining, sleeting, and snowing. The cloud level was around 9200 feet, so we were in the muck up through part of the Muir Snowfield. It was a long hike, but with the breaks, I felt pretty good upon arrival to Muir.

Hike up to Muir

We got all cozy in the "hut" for a few hours and then had our dinner. I think I was able to get a few hours rest before the guides came to wake us up for our Summit Climb. We were all very excited when we stepped out of the "hut" to find the stars were shinning and the wind was low. That would soon change :(

Roping up to begin our Summit Climb

We headed out of Muir through the Cowlitz Glacier and up to Cathedral Gap. The weather was still cooperating...mostly, and physically I felt great going into our first break on the Ingraham Flats. There were definitely some tricky parts (jumping over a crevasse being one of them). Once we hit the Disappointment Cleaver, things went downhill fast. The winds began and quickly started gusting and the snow/sleet were whipping us in the face. If you have ever been on the Disappointment Cleaver, in the dark, you will understand how much that put a damper on things. The Cleaver is no easy conquest and I kept looking up (directly up I might add) only to see the little lights of headlamps from climbers ahead of us. Physically, it was a challenge. We had to put on our goggles which decreased my visual field dramatically. We ended up at the top of Disappointment Cleaver on our 2nd break only to find out we were going back down. The winds were whipping us from our places on the Cleaver and visibility was only to the feet in front of you. It was a mental and physical challenge for me to get up the Cleaver. I found it extremely hard to negotiate all the rocks and cliffs on such a short rope. I was the only female on my rope team and my leg stride was much shorter than my teammates. A couple of little slips and an issue with my crampons sent my heart rate racing, that's for sure. However, knowing we had to turn around and do it all again without summitting was disappointing to say the least. Physically, by that time I was tired, but if they said we could still go, I would have. We ended up turning around and going back down to Muir at that time.

The hard parts?? Learning to pressure breathe (which definitely helped), that was one of the first things we learned in climbing school. I didn't feel much with the altitude, which I am grateful for. The boots...OH THE BOOTS! my shins are both black and blue and swollen from the boots, not sure why that happened, nothing was bunched and I tied the boots near the ankle and not up to relieve pressure on my shins, but they both just HURT! I was telling the guide on the way back down to Paradise "I feel like I could still run laps, if only I had a pair of sneakers!".

Lessons Learned?? Bring a pair of sneakers for Camp Muir and possibly part of the hike up and down from Muir. Every step was excruciating for me coming back down and I only wished I had a pair of sneakers to make it easier.
We did have some nice weather moments at Camp Muir as it was in between the upper mountains storm and the cloud deck below.

This first photo is the spot we took our second break on the Disappointment Clever, the second photo is me (second in) trying to take it all in.

Myself, husband, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and my brother.

Our RMI guides were FANTASTIC! I cannot say enough about all of them. They were welcoming, extremely knowledgeable and down to earth. I seriously think they made this experience for us. I cannot thank RMI enough for this amazing experience! Being able to rent all our equipment from Whittaker Mountaineering was such a load off of all of us as well. Knowing that all our equipment was waiting for us upon arrival and top of the line, guide recommended equipment was refreshing. Turn in was equally as easy.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! It was an unforgettable experience!
Now it's time for bed :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Allison's Ready For Rainier!

OK, this is it, two days until we meet up in Ashford, Wa. I decided to do a bit more relaxing this past week, tying all the loose ends on the packing list, took the kids shopping to get ready for school etc... We spent the last two nights camping on the Pacific Ocean in the Olympic National Park. We were able to drive out to the Hoh Rain Forrest where we took a "kid friendly" hike...OK, maybe more like a stroll. It's hard to keep 5 kids going at the same pace, especially when there are big trees to climb and fish to watch in the Hoh River. I ended up carrying our 2 1/2 year old son for most of it. His weight is about equivalent to our climbing backpacks I would think :) I am reminding myself to breath deeply and just absorb all I can this upcoming weekend. I will have my husband at my side the whole way, hopefully giving me a push every now and then :) Our summit night/day is on Sunday/Monday, so be thinking of us! Will hopefully be able to report back next week with photos!!