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Ascent of Mount Rainier on 2012-07-15

Climber: Bri Wilson

Others in Party:Ariel DeSmet
Garrett Wolter
Date:Sunday, July 15, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Rainier
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:14411 ft / 4392 m

Ascent Trip Report

We had hoped to arrive Friday afternoon before 5pm to score a permit for Ingraham flats and leave around 4:30am on Saturday. Due to terrible traffic, we missed it by 20 mins and ended up camping at Cougar Rock Camp Ground in the park....very lucky walk in spot!

Saturday we arrived in the parking lot at 5:20 AM and re-packed our packs. Our 3rd team member, Garrett, arrived around 5:30. We walked to the ranger station and had to wait behind to annoyingly slow groups...and did not get Ingraham flats, but Muir. We were given the option of camping on the Cowlitz Glacier, but I put the axe on that idea due to rock fall, exposure, lack of facilities, possible crevasses, and the essentially null advantage. We left just before 7am and arrive at Camp Muir at 11:30 AM. We took a few breaks on the way up the snow field. Current snow level is at the parking lot, with minimal exposure of the actual trail. We followed NPS flags on the way up to Muir.

We set up camp, took a nap until 2:30, melted water (14 liters for drinking, a few for food), and didn't end up lying down to "sleep" until around 7pm. The plan was to leave camp at 11:15pm, and wake up at 10:15, but we didn't end up leaving until 11:45pm, putting us slightly behind schedule, but the first group to leave Muir (I had wanted to be one of the first on the cleaver, but most groups at Ingraham flats were already a ways ahead of us, so rock fall wasn't an issue.)P.S. Garrett got to sleep in the Muir hut instead of his bivy sack! We short-roped just before the cleaver, as there was an icy section with big chunks of snow/ice that would catch the rope.

The first half of the cleaver was mostly exposed volcanic rock, with a few shallow snow sections. There were not many flags to mark the way, but the rocks are sort-of "beaten" into a foot path (path of least resistance) that helps to mark the way. The second half the the cleaver is a section of switchbacks on snow. The top of the cleaver is relatively flat, with a patch of rocks on the right to take a break. After this is the Emmons-Igraham Glacier trail. It followed relatively steep switchbacks. The guides have placed a large section (in the middle of the route) of fixed lines. The route is more direct due to the lack of crevasse openings. However, it is very exposed and a fall would be essentially unstoppable. The wind made traveling through the section more dicey, so I was extra careful with self-belaying of the ice-axe via pre-punched holes (too icy to make new ones).

The last 1400 feet or so were awful. It was likely the steepest section of the route and you could "see" the summit but knew it was still far away. The wind picked up and Ariel's hands froze to immobility so I took out my series puffy mitts from OR. Garrett started experiencing altitude problems, with nausea and facial swelling. I was ready to turn everyone around, but we were very close and the boys looked like they could make it alright.

We reached the summit at 7am, around 7 hrs after departure from camp Muir. The summit had winds around 40mph in the crater and around 70mph on the summit. It was so windy on the true summit, that I nearly was blown onto my face/off the mountain. It took a lot of effort to go over and sign the summit register, but we made it so no choice there! Summit #3 for me! And #1 for both Garrett and Ariel. We were probably up there for about an hr...maybe longer as we were all moving pretty slow due to not eating or drinking for who knows how long...so cold!!

It took 5 or so hrs to descend the route. We still had some altitude effect among the group and the snow hadn't softened enough on the steep section to move fast through the winds. We arrived at Muir a little before 2pm...maybe 1:30? Garrett packed up and left at 3:30 pm, while Ariel and I took an extra 30 mins to rest a sec. We took 2hrs and 45mins to make it from muir to the cars, as it was a complete white-out on muir snow field w/no glissading b/c everything was mushy and stomped out. We played "follow the NPS flags" to make it back to paradise. Got there at 6:45 pm, dropped off the climb permit, and headed to copper creek inn for a huge/amazing appetizer, dinner, deserts, and lots of coffee.

Unfortunately we didn't hit the road until 9:20pm, which meant a tired (and slightly delirious?) Bri as the driver. In bed at 12:30 am...

Overall: The route was in great shape with only a few crevasses that required jumping over. Overall, it is more tiring at altitude with the steep switchbacks, but the route feels fairly safe.
Summary Total Data
    Extra Gain:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:16 mi / 25.7 km
    Route:Disappointment Cleaver
    Trailhead:Paradise  
    Grade/Class:II
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Exposed Scramble, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Drizzle, Cold, Very Windy, Partly Cloudy
Minimal drizzle and thunder at Muir. Very windy 12000' + and extremely windy on the true summit. Whi
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:11 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:7 Hours 



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