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Ascent of Mount Rainier on 2014-07-27

Climber: Walter Blume

Others in Party:Jimmy C
Ben G
Luke H
Andrew H
Richard H
Bryce M
Matthew W and Will Y
Guides: Mike H
Mike U
Pepper D
Date:Sunday, July 27, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
Peak:Mount Rainier
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:14411 ft / 4392 m

Ascent Trip Report

Did climb with Rainier Mountaineering, the guides were excellent! This is a summary of my experience, which might be useful if you are thinking of doing this climb guided. See also http://rainier.wblume.com

We climbed in a group of 9 with 3 guides. The guides were all very experienced and really helped out a lot with making the climb a success. I mentioned that I was doing the state highpoints to the lead guide (Mike Haugen), and he related that he had been part of a promotion where he had done all 50 state highpoints (including Mt Denali) in 45 days! He had also climbed Mt Everest, so I was fairly impressed.

The climb was divided into 4 days, but only 2 days of actual climbing. Climbing seems a bit of an exaggeration, it was more like serious uphill hiking, as there was a trail to follow. The first day was actually just an evening where they reviewed the equipment/clothing that we needed to carry and/or wear, and we got to know each other. The second day was going over mountaineering basics, like how to hike while roped up, how to use an ice ax, practice doing self arrests, ways to walk and breath that maximize your efficiency and conserve energy.

Then the first part of the climb was to the halfway point, which is called Camp Muir. That is a long 4600 foot elevation gain walking up a snowfield. I had been very concerned about this hike, because I thought I would be exhausted by it, and then be too tired to do the next part, which was the real climb. But somehow, the way the guides organized it, I still felt great after getting up there. The basic thing that the guides did was kind of enforce a rigid break discipline and a slow but steady pace up the mountain. So we would stop once an hour, sit down, drink water, eat something, and apply sunscreen, then get ready to go again.

Then we went to bed in a hut at 6 pm, and were awakened at 11:30 pm to start second half of the climb. It was a new moon, so very dark. Wearing headlamps, we started climbing about 12:30 am, this second climb to the top is another 4200 feet and about 3.6 miles. We roped up in groups of 4 and put on crampons and started by crossing a glacier. All you could really see at this point were the headlamps of other people going up the mountain. The planet Mars was extremely bright, I actually thought it was a light out in the distance somewhere. We then went up & up, always maintaining a fairly steady pace and concentrating on keeping rope lengths appropriate. Then climbed up through a bunch of rock that I was thinking would be scary coming down. We then began catching up to groups because there were some bottlenecks at tricky points in the climb. So had to stand for a while waiting. This got cold, but I was feeling tired some of the time, so was glad to get extra rest. The guides showed us efficient techniques for getting through the hard parts, so we were pretty quick at the bottlenecks. We got up to about 12500 feet when it became light enough to see stuff, and the sunrise was beautiful, a very red sun and gorgeous bands of color. We took four breaks going up. Each one was pretty much the same drill, take off your packs, put on your parka immediately to conserve warmth, drink, eat, apply sunscreen. Then let's go! A couple of times I felt fatigued enough I thought I might not make it, but then I would begin feeling better again. Suddenly, we reached the crater rim, and we had made it. Everybody in our group made it, which the guides said was not very common, so that was fantastic. After you get to the crater rim, there is another 1/2 mile or so hike to the actual highest point, which about half of us hiked over to, the others that didn't care or were extra tired remained at the crater summit. Then the descent, which is 8800 feet in elevation loss. Now I actually got to see some of the terrain, which was really awesome (can't think of a better word for it). Also, didn't mention the view, which was spectacular, Mt Adams, Mt Baker, Mt Hood in Oregon, Mt St Helens, Mt Shuksan, we were so lucky with the weather being clear and warm.

The descent was really never scary, but I remained most of the time pretty focused on not tripping, maintaining proper rope lengths and moving along. Lots of very beautiful crevasses in the glaciers. We got down to Camp Muir, and then had about an hour break to pack the gear that we had left there, and then descended the last 4600 feet, but didn't have to hike it all, because you could sit down on the snow and just slide down for a lot of it. Got down to bottom at about 2:30 pm, then took a van back to base camp where we enjoyed some beer and camaraderie before I headed down the mountain to Seattle .

Anyway, overall a great experience,
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
A rendering of Mt Rainier done by my father Frank Blume, 8/4/91 (1991-08-04). Photo by Walter Blume.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:9011 ft / 2747 m
    Elevation Loss:9011 ft / 2747 m
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Ski Poles, Guide, Hut Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Windy, Clear
perfect
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:9011 ft / 2747 m
    Distance:8.1 mi / 13 km
    Route:Disappointment Cleaver
    Trailhead:Paradise  5400 ft / 1645 m
    Time Up:12 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:9011 ft / 2747 m
    Route:Disappointment Cleaver
    Trailhead:Paradise  5400 ft / 1645 m
    Time Down:5 Hours 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Walter Blume
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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