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Ascent of Mount Rainier on 2009-06-06

Climber: Randy Christofferson

Others in Party:anders Christofferson
Dave Conlan
Mark Falendar
Date:Saturday, June 6, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Rainier
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:14411 ft / 4392 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mount Rainier Summit Climb
June 3-6, 2009

Background

Anders and I met at the Seattle airport on the morning of Wednesday, June 3rd, gathered our belongings and jumped in our rental car for the two-hour drive to the town of Ashford, WA. We arrived and checked into the Whitaker Bunkhouse, which is situated at the Mount Rainier Base Camp. Also at the Base Camp were Whitaker Mountaineering, which was useful for last minute climbing needs and Rainier Mountaineering Inc. (RMI), which was the guide service we were using during this adventure.

We were here to climb Mount Rainier. Mount Rainier is arguably the most coveted alpine peak in the lower 48 states. At 14,410 feet (4,392 meters), it is the 3rd highest peak in the lower 48 with Whitney, as the highest, being just 84 feet taller. Rainier however, is a far more demanding challenge. With over 35 square miles of glaciers, Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states. Rainier has 6 times as much glacial area as the next most heavily glaciated peak, Mount Adams. In fact, Rainier has more than 3 times the glacial area than all of Glacier National Park and over 60 times that of all the Rockies of Colorado. Rainier has recorded as much as 93 feet of snow in a one-year period. Rainier has many defenses including steep glacial ice, huge crevasses, high altitude, and challenging weather. The mountain was first climbed in 1855 and by 1900, 160 people had made the summit. Today some 8000 people attempt to summit Rainier each year with about a 45-50% success rate.

Rainier is an impressive and imposing mountain. It dominates the skyline for hundreds of miles around. As I flew into Seattle, it’s shear mass and relief from the surrounding area was startling. One of the most impressive things about Rainier is off-course its extensive and afore-mentioned system of 25 named glaciers. Rainier has about 156 billion cubic feet of ice (enough to fill a line of dump trucks, bumper to bumper, from the earth to the moon, and back again. Eighteen times!) Rainier is perpetually snow and ice covered for thousands of feet all around its broad flanks.

Anders and I have enjoyed each other’s company on many great adventures through the years. Most recently we have been partners in many fun triathlon adventures including four Ironman triathlons (Western Australia, Wisconsin, Florida and Austria), racing for Team USA at the World Long-Course Triathlon Championships in France, and probably an additional 40-50 smaller races. We have also enjoyed weeklong bicycling sessions in Spain, France and Arizona. Over the last year we began to discuss the possibility of a new type of adventure and last November agreed to try to tackle Rainier together in the late spring of 2009. While we were clearly novices at mountaineering and arguably it was a stretch for us to go for Rainier as our first mountain adventure, we hoped that our extensive triathlon experience and the physical conditioning it affords would help us achieve our goal. I for one was thrilled at the anticipation of being reunited with my adventure buddy, as we had not been on a race or cycling trip together in the year since Anders moved to Los Angeles.

Day One: Classroom

We selected RMI’s four day Ingraham Glacier Summit Trip. RMI is the best known of the guiding services on Rainier. In 2009 they are celebrating their 40th anniversary. Through the years they have put thousands of climbers on the Summit, including newbies like Anders and I. RMI has a storied lineage including the most famous family in American Mountaineering, the Whitakers (Lou being the first American to climb the North Col of Everest. Lou’s twin brother, Jim, was the first American to summit Everest back in 1963). Their current roster of guides includes Ed Viesturs, arguably the most successful American mountaineer of all time whose resume includes successful ascents, without oxygen, of all 14 of the 8000-meter mountains in the world as well as the Seven Summits. Other guides include David Hann, who has climbed Everest 14 times (more than anyone else who is not a Sherpa) and Peter Whitaker (equally impressive climbing resume). These three had just rolled back into town having just completed another successful Everest ascent.

After sorting out our gear, our first activity was a three-hour classroom session at Base Camp. Here we met our lead guide, Dave Conlan, who was attempting to summit Rainier for the 68th time, and the other members of our climbing team. There were nine of us in our climbing team. In addition to Anders and me, there was another father and son team, Larry and Jack, both doctors and two of their friends from Michigan John and Tom). Jack was 26 and the other three were in their late 40s/early 50s. These four had recently climbed Mount Shasta, another 14,000+-foot peak without a guide. There was a husband and wife team in their fifties (Gary and Nancy) who were attempting to climb the highest point in all 50 states. Rainier was to be their 43rd such summit. Lastly, there was a Minnesotan named Jared, who was on a quest to climb Denali. Two years ago he had been 300 pounds but after deciding to make a major lifestyle change and training intensely he was a very fit looking 185 pounds. Anders and I were clearly the least experienced.

After introductions, Dave reviewed all of our climbing equipment and clothing choices. He was very helpful in his suggestions, and in quite a few cases told members of the group they had to make changes or else they would not be allowed to climb. Anders and I scored straight A’s on this part, as our strategy had been to procure exactly what RMI recommended on it’s website. I’ve always been oriented to having the best equipment for my passions, and I think it’s especially important when it comes to alpine mountaineering as your safety and physical well-being are fundamentally dependent on your equipment and clothing.

We then went through a session where we learned a variety of important things including how to don our crampons and gaiters, layering strategy, how to operate our avalanche transceivers, and how to pack for our climb. This was immensely helpful for Anders and me given our novice nature. As an example, Anders and I debated about whether the spike of an ice-axe points up or down on your pack. I asserted it was down because I couldn’t see how to secure the axe if it was upside down. However, Anders proved to be correct, as a nifty little procedure was all that was required to secure it spike up.

Dave said he had three objectives for the climb: 1) we all return safe and sound to the base camp on Saturday; 2) we all remain friends; and 3) if possible, that some or all of us summit Rainier. This seemed right to me and certainly in the correct order. Unlike triathlons, I was certainly OK with a DNF—or more accurately a DNS (did not summit) if the conditions or my fitness dictated that. For sure, we were planning to get back on the plane and fly home come Sunday.

After the equipment check we went into RMI’s Mountain Hut and had our pre-climb talk and reviewed a slide show of the route we were likely to take. Dave started our talk with the statement: “Rainier is NOT a safe climb. There are many substantial objective dangers on the mountain including crevasses, avalanches, rock and icefall, steep slopes and weather. These objective dangers are inherent in climbing Mount Rainier and should not be taken lightly. That said, we at RMI, have extensive experience in climbing Rainier and we follow a climbing protocol that is designed to mitigate against these objective dangers and to make your summit trip both as safe and rewarding as possible”. The talk and the slide show were both exciting and a little sobering.

After the classroom session, Anders and I headed down to the Copper Creek Inn restaurant, which we were told had the best food for miles around. We had disappointing fish (Halibut and Trout) but did enjoy our bottles of Rainier beer.
We repaired to our room at the bunkhouse and readied our packs for our Mountaineering Day School, which was to begin early Thursday morning.

Day Two: Mountaineering Day School

One of the most attractive features of the RMI program to Anders and I was our Mountaineering Day School session. We awoke at 6:30 am and after a quick breakfast boarded the RMI van at 8:15 for the 40-minute ride up to Paradise, in the Rainier National Park at the foot of the mountain. Paradise is at 5400 feet (Base Camp was at 1600 feet) and is where our climb would start in earnest the next day.

We assembled in the parking lot and met the second of our three guides Mark Falendar; another experienced guide. We were very fortunate to have two such strong guides. Dave is a bit of a superstar at RMI who leads climbs at Denali and Aconcagua as well as Rainier. Mark had just been promoted to lead guide and was to begin leading climbs on Rainier after our trip. We were in very good hands. Dave described the day ahead of us and we soon were off.

Mountaineering Day School takes place on the slopes above Paradise mostly around 6000 feet. It took close to an hour to reach the “classroom” and we were soon at it. The first task was to learn the proper way to climb up, down and across slopes without crampons and axes. This was a bit more difficult than it sounds as several of the team members slipped and went into lengthy uncontrolled falls/slides. Anders and I did pretty well at this part. It was fun and it was partly cloudy so Rainier kept peaking in and out of the cloud cover—it truly is an impressive looking mountain from this close in!

Next we learned about two critical mountaineering skills: rest stepping and pressure breathing. Rest stepping is a way of progressing up the mountain where you lock out your back-knee and momentarily pause between steps to take the weight off of your leg muscles and place it on your skeletal system. It seemed a little awkward at first, but we were soon to learn how critical it is to summiting a mountain like Rainier. Pressure breathing involves taking a very deep breath and forcibly exhaling it trying to create pressure in your lungs. The objective here is to try to increase the pressure of oxygen in your lungs to counteract the loss of oxygen partial pressure encountered at altitude. As with rest stepping, this technique was absolutely vital to our climbing.

Next we donned our crampons and grabbed our ice axes and practiced all these techniques with crampons (especially cross over stepping and duck walking). We then learned the proper way to carry our axes (self-arrest position on the up-hill side of the slope) and how to handle them in case of a fall. Then we practiced for a couple of hours how to self-arrest in case of a fall. This proved to be very difficult and awkward. Basically the idea is that in case of a fall to bring the axe up from the self-arrest position (down at your side) up to the space between your ear and shoulder blade on the up-hill side of the mountain while rotating the axe 180 degrees so that the pick is pointed out from your body. Meanwhile the opposite hand slides down the shaft of the axe and covers the spike (so that it doesn’t do something bad like jabbing into your abdomen). Next you have to roll over onto your stomach (this assumes you’ve fallen to your butt; there are different techniques if you are falling face first on your back or stomach) and drive the pick into the snow while levering the axe with your opposite hand and placing the weight of your body on the shaft for additional leverage. Meanwhile you have to aggressively drive, several times with both feet, both of the front points of your crampons into the slope below you. If done right, you arrest the fall with the pick of the axe buried in the snow, the shaft angling upward at a 45 degree angle under your upper body, both feet firmly planted below and no other part of your body touching the snow. If it seems complicated in print but it is more so on a slippery mountain slope.

We practiced this innumerable times and with many different scenarios. When we fell we had to scream “Falling!” at the top of our lungs and then go through the above. Some times we would be walking up a slope and one of the guides would call falling and down we would all go. Other times we would start sliding down the slope on our butt or stomach and then the guide would yell falling and we’d have to stop ourselves. When the axe was on the left this required a different set of steps (though mirrored) than when it was on the right. Still other times we’d start with no axe and as we slid by the guide, he would hand us our axe and we’d have to control the axe and initiate an arrest while in an uncontrolled slide down the slope.

Anders proved to be a very quick study and soon was differentiating himself from the rest of the team. He quickly mastered the self-arrest; which is the most critical skill of all in alpine mountaineering. I, sorry to say, was not so fortunate. It took me a long time to get it right. I always seemed to do one thing wrong. A typical error for me was to reach up the slope with the axe as I was sliding and thus lose the leverage of my body in setting the axe-pick. Eventually, I learned enough to pass, albeit with an average grade.

The school lasted some six hours and we broke every hour and a half or so for “maintenance breaks”. These are vital to success as a climb like Rainier involves burning some 9,000-11,000 calories and combined with sweat from the exertion, eating and drinking enough to make it through the climb are crucial. This would be a constant theme pounded into us by our guides. Anders and I felt ahead of the game here with our Ironman experience. Coincidently, the caloric burn in an Ironman is of a similar magnitude.

The last major portion of the school was learning how to travel roped together as a climbing team. Above Camp Muir, on the upper mountain where the greatest objective dangers exists, we would always travel roped together. This provides added security against falls or crevasse collapse and other such things. This is a lot harder than it might at first appear as the rope is held in one hand and the axe in another and as you change from one traverse direction to another (which happens frequently in a climb) you have to switch both. We also learned how to progress past anchors, which the guides might set in particularly sketchy sections.

Our biggest focus was practicing team arrest of a falling rope member. Any falls we might face were most likely on the more extreme terrain of the upper mountain when we were roped together. We learned how the team needed to react in a variety of different fall situations. Our final test occurred when after we had set our arrest positions Mark grabbed the rope behind us and tried to individually yank each of us off the slope. When he came to Anders, Mark tried particularly hard throwing his whole weight down the slope. Anders yelled, “Bring it on!” and the Mark gave it everything he had until dissolving into a fit of laughter. “All right, I’ll climb with you guys” he said after he stopped laughing.

This was a light-hearted moment. But it was also an important one. The guides are constantly evaluating the climbing team for climbing fitness (skills, physical stamina, and mental attitude) and are prepared to pull someone off the team if they don’t think they can cut it. This is a critical thing you pay for in a guided climb as the last thing one wants is to be allowed to climb or to be roped to someone when his or her climbing fitness isn’t there. We were constantly reminded of this and to hear we had passed this test was good news indeed.

Soon class was over and Dave reviewed some of the important details for the next day when our Summit attempt would begin and then we boarded the bus to head back to Base Camp. Back in our room, Anders and I excitedly reviewed the day and talked about how cool it was to learn all the things we had been reading and thinking about over the last eight months. We were finally going to do it! After dinner and an early repair to our beds, I couldn’t help but lay there thinking through all that might happen to us over the next two days—the good and bad. I was juiced for sure but did finally manage to eek out a few hours sleep.


Day Three: Paradise to Camp Muir

We awoke at 6:30 am for a quick breakfast at Base Camp and then loaded up our packs and joined our climbing team at 8:15 for the van ride to Paradise. Paradise lies at 5,400 feet and the route RMI had selected is called the Ingraham Direct. It involves first climbing to Camp Muir at 10,100 feet and then on up to the Columbia Crest Summit at 14,410 feet—a total elevation gain of just over 9,000 feet. The plan was to climb throughout the day on Friday, rest at Camp Muir for a few hours, and then set out for the Summit in the early hours of Saturday the 6th. After reaching the Summit, we would return to Camp Muir, collect our gear that we didn’t need for the Summit push and return to Paradise some 30 hours after our departure. The trip would entail some 18 miles and over 18,000 feet of net vertical altitude change (with the ups and down along the way the total gross altitude change is considerably greater).

After unloading our gear in the parking lot we gathered together and met our third guide, Tim Hardin. Tim was a 21 year-old “junior guide” who despite his age had extensive climbing experience including 7 summits of Rainier. Dave told us the plan for the climb to Muir and what to expect and concentrate on. At Paradise we were engulfed in clouds—really pretty much of a white out. Dave said the weather forecast was “iffy”. The forecast called for increasing cloudiness, a chance of rain and snow, colder temperatures and increasing wind with the combination of a low front approaching from the south and a marine layer moving in from the west. Saturday’s forecast at the summit was for 13 degrees and 30 mph winds (these are average conditions). He said he didn’t know for sure but he thought it worth a shot to climb to Muir and then wake up Saturday morning and see if it was climbable. My heart sank a bit at this. Objectively, I knew with a big alpine mountaineering trip like this one, the weather was a major factor in determining whether or not one could summit, but in my dreams we always seemed to be blessed with great weather. Hearing the prospect of not being able to go for the Summit was a little discouraging. None-the-less, Dave ended his pre-climb talk by turning towards the beginning of the route up and saying, “Let’s go climb Mount Rainier.” Indeed. Lets! Anders and I smiled at each other and we were finally at it.

The total Ingraham Direct climb involves 14 distinct climbing segments—nine on the way up and five on the way down. Our climb to Camp Muir on this day involved the first five. We left at about 9:45 am and were to climb for about 1:00 to 1:15 at a time before we would take 10-15 minute “maintenance breaks”. The climb to Muir involved 4.5 miles and 4700 feet of altitude gain.

The early part of the climb took us past the area where we had our mountaineering school. For the most part, we ascended through soft snow and soon were above the tree line. We traveled together in a single line practicing following in each other’s footsteps (a skill that is important when there are crevasses about). The climb to Muir is not very technical and we climbed with our heavy-duty plastic mountaineering boots and trekking polls eschewing crampons until the Summit push.

There was very little chatter and some fairly heavy breathing as we ascended to about 6400 feet. Anders was towards the front and I was at the back. I tried to focus on my rest-step and pressure breathing techniques and felt very much in control. I would guess my heart rate was around 120 bpm or so—an easy aerobic pace for me. The guides were trying to pattern the pace we would need to follow in order to make it to the Summit in the desired timeframe. Of course, as the slope got steeper and the air thinner this was likely to become increasingly difficult, but in the early stages it was quite manageable.

We reached our first break and drank (Gatorade for me) and ate (Mojo bar) and peed in the snow. We replenished our drink bottles from snow (not the same snow) and our guides reinforced yet again the importance of fueling ourselves. I was very thirsty and I had completely sweated through my base layer (we wore just one layer top and bottom). It was warm (probably 70 degrees) even on the snow and very humid with the cloud cover. I should also point out we were carrying fully loaded packs—I guess mine was 55-60 pounds and Anders’ was maybe five pounds lighter. This probably seems like a lot but with our guides counsel we had been ruthless about eliminating everything we could. In any event, as I rested I took my shirt off and sat on my pack during my maintenance break “working on my tan” as the sun had broken through. Soon it was time to move on and I put my thoroughly soaked shirt back on and hoisted my pack.

Anders convinced me to move towards the front of the group and this proved to be sage counsel. The second section had some more technical sections on rocks and along cliffs. The group began to separate a bit as difference in fitness levels of the team became apparent. About half way through the climb, after Anders and I had crossed an invisible snow bridge, one of the Michigan team, John Micallef, at the back of the group, fell through into a hole and as his lower body fell in he tipped backward and significantly strained one of his quadriceps muscles. He was in a fair amount of pain and stuck in the hole. Mark hurried to dig him out and he decided to push on. This opened up a big gap as the group that Anders and I were in moved more quickly up the mountain.

Soon we reached our second break at the bottom of the Muir snowfield at about 7500 feet. The Muir snowfield is a huge expanse of snow that climbs more or less directly all the way to Camp Muir. It’s technically not a glacier although it flows like one and has crevasses as our unluckly teammate had discovered. We sat under the relentless sun (we were constantly applying spf 70 and lip balm) and admired the views of the Rainier massif to our left. The Nisqually headwall and glacier were very prominent. Dave admonished us to stay closer together as a team as it was good practice for Summit day when we were to be roped. He said that he was setting the pace we needed to follow and everyone should stay together. Anders looked at me knowingly and I knew I owed him one.

We were soon on our way and very quickly a gap opened up once again. Anders and I were in the front group along with the father and son team from Michigan (Lenny and Jack) and Jared. The climbing was not difficult (in my view) but the sun was relentless and the slope was steeper (20-25 degrees) and seemingly never ending. As we climbed higher the sheer mass of Rainier became more and more evident.

Soon we stopped for our 3rd maintenance break at 8500 feet. It was a beautiful day and quite warm and sunny. At this point I had consumed over 2 liters of fluid and an impressive amount of food (energy bars, jelly beans and a big turkey sandwich). When I peed my urine was still fairly clear so I felt like I was doing a good job of hydrating to this point.

Lenny, the other father was not. Dave started getting on him because he was not drinking enough. He said he was having trouble getting fluid down. Dave said he had to drink even if it made him throw up. Without aggressive hydration, Dave said Lenny would suffer on the Summit push.

Up again 10 minutes later we kept putting one foot in front of the other. The climbing was a little harder here but both Anders and I felt great. The scenery was impressive and the weather perfect. It was now a little cooler at the higher altitude, which was greatly appreciated. We saw several skiers and snowboarders carving big sweeping turns down the slope above us. Apparently its possible to get as much as 10,000 vertical feet of skiing on Rainier.

We separated yet again as the increasing altitude and pitch was evidencing different fitness levels in our group. Anders and I were happy in the front group feeling confident that the guides would have seen enough from us to give us the green light for the Summit. Our last rest was at about 9400 feet. At this height the various structures of Camp Muir were clearly visible to us and I felt very excited as we neared this day’s objective.

We were on our way shortly latter and about 40 minutes or so rolled into Camp Muir at 10,080 feet. It was about 3:45 in the afternoon so our climb had taken about six hours. This was slower than our target of five to five and a half hours and I had the sense that we would have to push harder during our Summit attempt.

Camp Muir sits on a ridge above the snowfield and below the Cowlitz glacier. It has outstanding views of a number of mountain ranges and in the distance great views of Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. The Camp has several separate structures including a first-come-first-serve public sleeping shelter, a guide hut and RMI’s very basic shack (which we were grateful for). Also there were several tents pitched on the close in portions of the Cowlitz.

Our first order of business was to organize our stuff into dinner things, sleeping things and those items we were taking to the Summit. We left our packs, polls, axes and crampons outside due to the limited space inside the hut.

After about 90 minutes of taking care of business, Dave came into the hut and gave us our pre-Summit talk. His description of the climb ahead was quite sobering. He talked at length about the dangers of the climb to the Summit and told us that on the second section of the Summit push we would encounter “real climbing” with numerous crevasses and rock and ice fall. It was hard not to be a little apprehensive.

He told us what to bring and how the departure would work. Mark and Tim brought us both hot and cold water (a real luxury) and we soon set about eating. I had two cups of soup and a delicious pasta primavera. Everyone was pretty focused and quiet—I think we were all thinking about tomorrow morning and what it might bring.

The hut we were in was very small and basic. Just bare wood with no insulation. It had three levels of wood boards and could sleep (snugly) about 18 people. It was only about 10x20 feet so you can imagine how tight it was. With nine of us it wasn’t that bad and Anders and I took the “honeymoon suite” on the 3rd level where the two of us would sleep next to each other in a space that was about five feet across.

After dinner people were in and out making our last preparations. John said that he was going to have to make a game time decision about his leg but he was doubtful for the Summit. Nancy, from the husband and wife team, started crying and said that she just couldn’t do it and she was going to stay behind.

A quick aside here about fitness. It is absolutely essential to be as fit as possible for a climb like this. Not just raw aerobic fitness but mountain climbing specific fitness (as I was soon to find out). The climb to Camp Muir, while challenging, was well within Anders and my fitness levels. This made it very enjoyable and we were able to look around and talk to our fellow climbers as well as focus on the climb itself. Others in our party were continually stressed by the pace and as a result, their experience was much less fun. Success, safety and enjoyment are all fundamentally driven by fitness level. It’s hard to stress this enough.

Back at Camp Muir, Anders and I were able to get Judy on my cell phone and we had a nice talk. She was relieved to hear of our progress and wanted to talk with us for a lot longer than we could. It also seemed like the cold was having an effect on my battery life so we said goodbye after 10 minutes or so and told her we would try to call tomorrow if we could.

Anders and I sat outside together for 15 minutes more or so and enjoyed the view together. We looked down on a vast sea of clouds at about 7000 feet with mountaintops peaking through. Although it was now past 6:30 it was still quite bright out. We talked about how fantastic the trip was so far and about the prospects for tomorrow. We were both optimistic about our chances. We also spent some time wondering who would be roped with us—the plan was for three teams of 1-guide/3 climbers. We knew that this was a critical issue both from a safety and summiting success point-of-view. We talked about Lenny and how he was behind the hydration curve and Anders predicted that it was already too late for him—no matter how much he drank tonight. With the lack of clarity about who was even going to attempt the Summit, we decided it best to let it go and try to sleep.

We all lay down around 7 pm knowing that the wake-up call would come sometime between 12 midnight and 3 am. The departure time was a function of the anticipated weather. If it was going to be clear and the weather good we would leave earlier. This “alpine start” is designed to get the team on the Summit in the early morning and than back down off the glaciers before the heat of the day made things on the glacier unstable. If the weather was bad or uncertain we would delay the start—or perhaps call-off the Summit push entirely.

This was just one of a million things that went through my mind as I uncomfortably lay in my sleeping bag in the light of the early evening and tried fitfully to sleep. I was certain that I did not sleep but Anders told me later that he got up around 9:30 and went outside to pee (another luxury here was the solar powered outside toilets). I never heard him so I must have slept some. I know Anders slept a bit as I heard him breathing in a comfortable sleeping rhythm a couple of times.

Dave had told us to hydrate but not to drink so much that we had to run outside in the dark all night (not much fun in my view). So I went sparingly on the water and in retrospect this was probably a mistake. Soon, I looked at my watch and saw that it was 11:54 pm and I knew the moment of truth was soon to arrive. I was hoping to hear Dave very soon as that would mean the weather was good and that we were on.


Day Four: The Summit Push

Shortly thereafter the door opened below us and a light came on—it was 12:05 am—yes! Dave said, “good morning mountaineers. It is a beautiful morning with a clear sky and a full moon. The wind is light and we have a great day to climb. So get up and attend to your breakfast and packing. We recommend that you wear a base layer top and bottom and that you wear just one layer on top of that—your climbing pants and your soft-shell. So let’s get to it and we’ll try to leave around 1:15 am”. Then he left. Anders and I looked at each other and raised our eyebrows and smiled—we were really going to do this thing—I almost couldn’t believe it.

The first discovery of the early morning was that in addition to Nancy electing to stay at Muir, both John and Tom from the Michigan team had elected to stay as well. John’s quad unfortunately had tightened during the night and he didn’t think it made sense to attempt the climb and end up slowing everybody down. Tom said he just wasn’t fit enough. I admired them for making what were tough, but absolutely correct decisions. We were now down to three guides and six climbers—three groups of three. This meant that just Anders and I would be roped together with a guide—we were quite excited by this prospect.

The hut was a beehive of activity as the six of us busily prepared for the challenge ahead. I kept looking at the three that were staying behind and felt a pang of guilt—I was so excited and they must feel so bummed! I had to let it go because I had a lot to do and I had to do it correctly.

We ate breakfast (pop tarts, a cookie and coffee) and made several trips outside to stuff our packs. I made three trips to the outhouse just to make sure I wouldn’t have to worry about that latter when it might prove more inconvenient.

It was a breathtaking morning! A clear sky lit-up by the full moon and a very bright Venus. It was cold—I’m guessing about 25 degrees, but there was just a breath of wind. Perfect really. It was surreal looking around as people walked to and fro all over Muir with their headlamps beaming, getting ready for the climb ahead.

Anders and I secured our packs and then efficiently donned our crampons—this was one skill we had mastered. The guides came down and we learned that we would be roped with Tim, the newest of the guides. We were cool with whichever guide we were roped to as they all three seemed very competent. We were to be the second of the three teams. First was Dave as the lead climber roped with father and son, Lenny and Jack. Then our team followed by Mark with Jared and Gary (the husband of the husband and wife team). Although they did not say why they chose this configuration it was pretty clear what they had concluded. First, they had decided that Anders and I were the strongest climbing pair of the three pairs. Strongest in this case is defined by the weakest person in each team. In our case that was clearly I. They judged me stronger than Lenny or Gary so they had the stronger guides with the two weakest climbers. Also, I was to be in the middle between Tim and Anders. This was where the weakest person on the rope goes. It was the same with the other two ropes: guide up front, over 50 guy in the middle, young buck at the back. The guides had decided correctly in my view.

Dave checked to make sure we were all good to go and Mark came and examined our crampons. Next we clipped in and Dave said: “Let’s do this” and he led the first rope team into the dark. My heart was pounding.

The push to the Summit and back entailed seven sections; four up and three back down to Camp Muir. The most difficult section and the real crux of the climb was up the Ingraham Glacier and through the icefall under the glacier’s headwall. More on that latter. The Ingraham Direct Route (ID) that we were taking this morning is the preferred route to the Summit up through late May and early June when the crevasses and ice/rock falls begin to make the path impassable. Then, most folks move over to the parallel Disappointment Cleaver Route (DC), which is to the right side of the Ingraham Glacier on a rocky ridge. The guides had debated which way to go but ultimately decided that the ID route was still stable enough for us to give it a shot.

The Ingraham Glacier, on the eastern flank of Rainier, covers an area of about 1.5 square miles. It contains about 7 billion cubic feet of ice. At the bottom it merges into the upper Cowlitz Glacier and together they melt into the Cowlitz River. In the past (35,000 years ago) they have flowed as far as 65 miles down from Rainier.

I should digress here to talk about safety. RMI has been guiding on this mountain for 40 years. During this time they have had three accidents on their trips that have resulted in fatalities. In 1981 a massive section of the Ingraham Icefall broke away and swept eleven climbers into a crevasse where they remain today. This remains the worst mountaineering accident in North American history. Prior to that, in 1977 a 47-year-old woman died when her rope team slid 1500 feet down the upper Ingraham. Last year a 29 year old man was killed when loose snow knocked him off the Disappointment Cleaver route. RMI typically guides over 3000 people a summer on the ID and DC routes. And as I mentioned earlier, they have been guiding here for 40 years. There is danger, but from a statistical basis the probabilities are small. Those are the facts.

Anyways, that part of the mountain was a ways ahead of us as we headed out. The first section of the climb involved traversing the Cowlitz Glacier under the Cathedral Rocks and then up and through the Cathedral Gap. Then, a short trek to the lower section of the Ingraham Glacier at 11,100 feet, which is called the “Flats”. This section was expected to take us about 70-75 minutes.

This part of the climb was magical. I was almost giddy with excitement. Anders kept saying “Look Dad” or “This is so awesome”. Ahead you could see the reflection off the snow of other climbers’ headlamps, including groups who had left ahead of us. The Cowlitz Glacier is heavily crevassed but the path was well defined and the guides seemed pretty mellow. As we progressed higher we would look down to our right aware of a pretty steep slope that was dimly illuminated by the moon. It was surreal.

Mostly the only sound was the rhythmic crunching of our crampons into the icy-hard snow. After about 30 minutes Dave yelled back that we should all be alert and listen for rock fall. This kind of snapped me out of my reverie and back into the reality of what we were doing. In case of hearing ice or rock fall we are all to try to see it and then try to point it out to everyone. Then we have to listen to Dave to tell us what to do. The options were basically: do nothing as it will miss us; watch it and wait until the last second to dodge anything headed directly at you, walk forward or backward as a team; or turn around and crouch down in an attempt to have your pack cushion the blow. I reviewed these options while listening for the rocks and ice that never came.

Soon we scrambled through some loose rocks (which is a challenge in crampons) and exited through the Cathedral Gap (10,640 feet) onto the Ingraham Glacier proper. The Cathedral and Gibraltar Rocks were now to our left and we were in a very mellow part of the mountain. Despite the altitude, this was very pleasant climbing as the slope was quite mild. I was very comfortable in my two thin layers—it’s amazing how little you need to wear to stay warm when you’re climbing. I felt strong at this point of the climb. I looked up into the night sky and was stunned to see several small groups of lights moving in unison impossibly high up in the sky. When I looked more closely I could see the slightly darker hue of Rainier itself on which the climbing parties were pushing upward. I knew if all went well I would be there soon—it was a little mind-boggling.

We reached the first rest point just a few minutes behind schedule. Here we took off our packs (which thankfully only weighed about 25 pounds now) and laid them onto the snow. We took out our big down parkas to stay warm and quickly ate and drank. I wasn’t that hungry but ate a frozen Snicker’s Bar and drank too much of my Gatorade—I was feeling very thirsty. In no time at all we packed up, stripped down and were on our way for the crux of our Summit attempt.

This second section involves climbing directly up the face of the Ingraham Glacier weaving our way through the crevasses and icefall debris all the while under the overhanging seracs of the Ingraham Headwall. Our guides admonished us to move very quickly through this section. I felt a little anxiety with their tension and the increased physical stress of the pace and growing altitude.

It was still very dark but soon I became aware of huge masses of fallen ice and large gaping trenches all around. Some of the blocks of ice were easily several times my height. The moon cast enough light that you were aware but not altogether certain of the typography around you. Several times I called out to Anders to look at some thing and he invariably answered: “I know”. I think he was a little spooked too.

The pitch began to ratchet dramatically upward and with the increased incline came many more, wider and deeper crevasses. At first we would weave around them. Then we would come to distinct, fairly small “snow bridges” precariously spanning the chasms. Here we would slow and Mark would issue commands, as the three of us would cross in turn. As we did this I felt myself becoming more intensely focused. I was not afraid, just completely in the moment focused on executing.

It seemed like we had to wait a lot, which physiologically I was thankful for as it allowed me to control my breathing and heart rate which were beginning to race a bit at times with the exertion. Still in the back of my mind I knew we needed to be moving faster. It seemed like the team in front of us was having trouble.

As the pitch increased again we had to resort to a lot of cross over side steps. This was very demanding and I found myself taking a breath with each rest-step, advancing just 4-6 inches with each methodical step. The crevasses now were completely open and we had to walk to the very edge and then leap across as our rope team partners maintained appropriate tension on the rope. Thankfully, for the most part we could not see down into the black abyss below us although from time to time the moon illuminated some of the cracks and I was conscious of their shear size—some where 30 feet or more across very near where we were. At one point, a crevasse was in our path that was about four feet wide and the other side was five or so feet higher. To surmount this we climbed an aluminum ladder that had been previously anchored to the ice across the chasm. I’ve seen this move on Discovery Channel and was very anxious about it but it proved to be easy to do—even with crampons.

We were now slowly approaching the headwall itself. We were closing in on 5 am and with the nearing dawn I could begin to see more clearly the topography around us. I looked up and saw hanging seracs that were several times bigger than our house sitting on a 60-degree slope several hundred feet above us. I was aware that it was certain these blocks would fall-some day—but I was not frightened at all. Every time I looked at or thought about them the loss of concentration would cause me to slip or trip a bit and so I decided to just not think about them anymore. I guess it’s like driving a car. Sure someone at anytime could swerve across the lane and hit you but you don’t think about it because it’s extremely unlikely and it’s better to focus on driving well.

Finally we gained enough altitude to cross over above the top of the Disappointment Cleaver. We had one final obstacle to pass before we would reach our second rest stop. Here the most dramatic event of the climb unfolded. At the bottom of a slight decline directly in front of us and clearly visible in the growing light, Dave had made a hard left turn about 20 feet above a huge crevasse that interrupted a slope of about 40-45 degrees. He climbed up and set his feet and called down to Lenny to come up. This part required a step up of about three feet and as Lenny tried to step up he fell and slid a foot or two. Dave yelled at Lenny to focus and to hurry and try again. Lenny tried 2-3 more times and appeared unable to surmount this obstacle. Dave was increasingly forceful in urging Lenny to do it. He tried and slipped again and Dave yelled: “Lenny, you can not fall there. Stay there, don’t move, don’t move at all.” I wanted to look back at Anders but we were hanging out on a very steep slope so I just put the weight on my locked back leg and waited to see what was going to happen.

Dave took out an anchor and buried it. He unhooked from the rope and tied Lenny to the anchor. He then free-climbed, un-roped down to Lenny and hastily cut several steps into the ice for Lenny with his ice axe. He quickly climbed back up and re-roped leaving the anchor in place. This all happened in about 2 minutes—it was amazing to witness. With these freshly cut steps Lenny was able to make it and right behind him the rest of us soon followed.

We climbed a couple of hundred feet higher to 12,300 feet on a ridiculously steep slope (probably 50 degrees) and to my amazement Dave announced that we would rest there. Every move had to be carefully thought through and executed. We drove our ice axes into the snow and short roped to them. We carefully took our packs off and took out our down jackets and I grabbed some warmer gloves. I zipped my jacket with my crampons digging in below me and my back to the slope behind me. Soon I had my drink and food out and turned around to admire the view.

What a spectacular view it was! The sun had just popped up above a thick cloud layer that probably was at 8000 feet or so. Directly in front of us was Little Tahoma (11,138 feet), which is the third highest peak in Washington. Many smaller peaks were also visible and to our right was the top of the DC and the Gibraltar Rock. As I looked down between my feet I saw a shear slope that fell away at least 2000 feet. Strangely, I was comfortable enough perched here that I asked Dave if I could shoot some video, which I did—it’s amazing stuff. While we were sitting there, Jack dropped his water bottle and it shot down the slope and quickly disappeared from sight. Yikes!

Dave announced that Lenny and Gary had decided to turn back and that Tim would un-rope from Anders and me and lead them back to Camp Muir. Mark came forward to lead our team and Jared joined Jack, who now would climb without his father, on Dave’s rope. We were now down to 4 climbers and 2 guides on 2 ropes. We had taken almost two full hours to master the second section-much slower than desired. The good news was that we were likely to be able to move quite a bit faster going forward. The bad news, from my perspective, was that I was now the weakest climber as everyone left was in their 20s and evidently fitter than I. Dave said we needed to make up some time and we would go harder. The good news was that the rest of the route was fairly straightforward. He said it would still be hard as it was relentlessly steep and of-course altitude was becoming a factor.

We set off in the growing light and we basically cross-stepped with a crossover traverse every now and then. At the crossovers I had to step both feet over the rope behind leading to Anders, switch my ice axe to my other hand without dropping it (no leash) and then re grab and tiddy up the rope behind me so that Anders wouldn’t have it at his feet as the slack increased as I traversed above him. I was increasingly fatigued but we generally did this very well. Occasionally Anders or Mark had to remind me to shift my axe grip or take better care of the rope. I was aware that Anders was increasingly thinking about taking care of and watching out for me. It was very comforting to have two stronger climbers on the rope with me. At the same time my ego was driving me to live up to their standards.

Most of this part of climb was side stepping up the mountain, one foot over the other with one’s body perpendicular to the fall-line. Each time you placed your foot down you had roll your ankle down the hill to make sure to engage as many points of the crampon as you could. I focused on rest stepping and pressure breathing and I thought I had pretty good technique. In reality I was fatigued and not as precise as either Mark or Anders and this was creating a feedback loop of increasing fatigue and more sloppiness. Mark urged me several times to focus and be more precise as I would occasionally have a clumsy step or two. This section was extremely difficult as my HR was constantly elevated close to my anaerobic limit. I was very conscious of how hard I was working but mostly I was just absorbed completely into the task. I could not tell you what the view was like although every time we would reach what I thought was a crest a new, equally steep section was revealed stretching away to the sky above us.

All of a sudden I was surprised to see Dave taking his pack off at a mellower section, which was our 3rd rest stop at the “High Break”, which is at 13,500 feet. This was very good news indeed. I really had to focus on getting my breathing under control—the air was very thin. I couldn’t drink very much as I was running out of water, having consumed about 75% of the two liters I had brought. I really could eat just a couple of bites as I was working too hard now and my appetite was fading.

As I sat there in the quiet of the team, I seriously pondered if I had enough to make it up to the top and then all the way back down again, not just to Camp Muir but to Paradise. I didn’t want to endanger myself, Anders or anyone else on the team. I was pretty certain I could get to the top but I wondered about the descent—I just didn’t have any real experience to judge this with. It was probably a moot point anyways because we were pretty much committed to the top now, which was just 650 vertical feet above us (the east rim of the Summit Crater).

Very quickly it was time to make a final push for the Summit and Dave said the 4th segment was just like the 3rd except with less oxygen but it was notably shorter. He thought we should be to the rim of the crater in 30-40 minuets or so. And so it began again. This time, probably because, it was half the length of the 3rd section, I soon saw Dave coiling in the rope of his team as they all paused—evidently at the summit crater. It was just 60 feet away. Then 30. And finally I looked up and saw Rainier’s Summit crater. We were now at 14,150 feet. Mark smiled and said, “good work”. Anders soon joined me and we smiled through our fatigue. We short-roped down through a tricky section onto the crater itself and we took our packs off and donned our parkas. We high-fived and took pics and video.

Dave said it was ok if we just stayed here but if we wanted to we could all walk across the crater and up the 260 feet to the true Summit. He said either was fine because in his mind we had made it. Anders and I had talked about this before and I just pointed at the Columbia Crest and the others all said let’s go.

We un-roped and left our packs and took our axes and walked across the crater—it was about 500 yards across. As the slope steepened on the other side I stopped to rest in the thin altitude for a few seconds. Mark urged me to keep going saying we did not have much time. We climbed up a rocky patch and Dave dug out the Park Service Summit Register that we all signed. I signed it “Randy Christofferson MIOGA”. We took some more pictures and Dave announced we were now official.

Of course we really weren’t as we still had a few hundred more feet to go to get to the true Summit. Dave said, “Should we finish this off?” No one said a thing but we all started slowly trudging up the final slope. It was one slow step after another. With each step the view became ever more beautiful with a full 360 degree panorama opening up. I saw Dave shake Anders had ahead of me and soon I joined them. We had summited Mount Rainier! I hugged Anders and said, “We did it!” It was 8 am, 6 and a half hours after we had left Muir, and some 22+ hours after leaving Paradise. I looked nervously out at another peak that looked even higher and wondered if we had to go further but Dave said that it was Liberty Cap which was actually a couple of hundred feet lower (Rainier has 3 distinct summits with the Columbia Crest where we now stood being the highest and official Summit at either 14,410 or 14,411 feet, depending on what source you read).

We stayed for about ten minutes enjoying the view and the sense of accomplishment. I was thrilled and very proud of Anders—what a fine and multi-talented young man he has become! We were all notably subdued—no dancing or overt celebrating as we still had a descent of 9 miles and 9,000 vertical feet in front of us. We took more pics and videos and soon it was time to go.



Day Four: Back to Camp Muir

We went fairly quickly down to the crater floor and across to where we had left our packs. There is a lot to explore on the Summit of Rainier including tunnels, wreckages of a plane crashe, various volcanic effects but we had none of that. I was very much in game-on mode wanting to get down as quickly and effectively as I could. I sensed it was going to be a tough sled down and I was a little apprehensive. The attitude of the team was all business.

We stripped down and hoisted our packs and climbed back up out of the crater and began the descent. We broke the climb up into 4 sections but on the way down we planned to consolidate the highest two sections into one—stopping just above the Ingraham.

It was great to have no more indecision. At this point the only thing that mattered was to get down safe and sound. I was pleased to find that descending, even on very steep terrain was both much easier and faster. My HR was under control and I began to look around a bit to see what I had missed on the way up. At one point, just below the High Break I clipped my crampons and fell to my knees on a pretty steep slope. I stopped right away and there was no damage done. Mark looked at me and asked what happened. I told him I lost focus and he told me to stay focused. No doubt he was right. But the truth was that I was now quite dehydrated and beginning to bonk a bit. My quads were beginning to tighten quite a bit and it was hard for me to constantly extend them down the slope and easily arrest my “controlled fall”. Instead, especially with the weight of the pack I tended to slam down from several inches above the snow surface. It was much more jarring than it needed to be and with the steep uneven terrain, difficult to always properly balance. When we would stop for several seconds, my legs began to vibrate and shake from the fatigue. I knew I was locked into a pretty tough fight for the next 4-6 hours and I wished I had done much more mountaineering specific training—especially walking downhill with a heavy pack. From this point on, my aerobic fitness was generally not an issue but my muscle strength, specifically in my quadriceps was. Anders for his part, while working very hard, was well within his comfort zone.

Eventually we made it down to the place we had stopped earlier above the DC at 12,300 feet. I was fairly thrashed at this point and basically out of water and with no appetite for anything solid. I knew the next 1200 feet of descent was the key barrier between a great trip and something worse. I was into positive self-talk and when Mark, Dave or Anders asked how I was doing I told them I was on it. I did so in a monotone and without my earlier enthusiasm—it was all I could muster.

We then dropped into the Ingraham Glacier just below the headwall. Revealed in all of its beauty and horror in the daylight I was amazed that we had been through this place just a few hours before. The upper glacier was riddled with many significant and a far greater number of lesser crevasses. Above, to the right, were massive seracs hanging ominously over a 50-60 degree headwall. Strewn all across the glacier were the remnants of recent and some cases, massive icefalls. Mark turned to me and said we had to move very quickly and effectively through this section. The sun was now beating down and I began to sweat as everything was heating up—amen to moving fast!

About halfway down, on a steep slope some 30 feet above a deep crevasse I made my worst mistake of the climb. I was very fatigued in my quadriceps and I moved my legs too close together as I down stepped at one point. This caused me to catch a crampon on my other leg and just like that I fell forward somewhat perpendicular to the fall line. Immediately and above me, Anders fell into a self-arrest position and I, at the same time was able to quickly control my fall. I stopped after sliding two or three feet. All was silent for a second and I said, “I’m fine and I’m sorry”. I felt embarrassed with such a mistake. Mark looked at me and said, “don’t do that again—what happened?” I agreed with him and basically said I lost focus and I wouldn’t let it happen again. The truth is that I was losing the ability to precisely control my down steps.

A ways further into the descent through the icefall, Mark reversed our rope structure and put Anders in the lead. This was, I think, due to two things. First, Anders was climbing exceptionally well and Mark had a lot of confidence in him. Second, while at the back of the rope, Mark was above me and could see me and more effectively set an anchor if I fell again. He probably thought this was a safer position. It was. That said, I was bringing 100% of my focus to make sure I didn’t fall again and in this regard I was successful.

At one point Anders told Mark that the route he wanted us to take wasn’t as good as one some 20 yards to his right. They discussed this for a minute or two while I gratefully sucked Os to try to get back to steady state. Eventually they decided that Anders was right and we successfully moved past yet another crevasse. We down climbed the ladder as we mostly retraced our earlier steps. At long last, about 10:30 am we were safely past the most dangerous part of our climb and in the Ingraham Flats. Here we digressed into a long and very interesting discussion on a wide range of mountaineering topics. The tension in my body just released and I had no doubt that while the rest of the climb was going to be demanding, I had more than enough to make it home. I loved our chat—especially because it allowed me to recover a bit. All my water was now gone and Dave made sure that I ate some of his sandwich. I did and a bit of an energy bar. We looked back up at the glacier above us and marveled at its massive chaos. I blew it by not taking a picture or some video here. Frankly I was too busy living it to remember to record it.

The final slog back to Muir was painful (on my quads), hot and wearying. I was sweating to death and Anders kept trying to get me to speed things up. I resisted because I felt if I went any faster then I would fall.

Finally, we made it back to Muir at 11:30—some 10 hours after we left. The other members of our team were here and they warmly greeted us. We made sure that they knew that we appreciated their decisions and reinforced that they had made the right calls. Anders said I was in post-triathlon mode when I wanted to talk to everybody about our shared experience. It was great but I only had an hour before we were to be off again for another 4700-foot descent to Paradise. I finally got all packed and stripped down to lighter layers. I wish I had more time to eat and hydrate but at this time I was content to focus on just getting the climb over.

Day Four: Back to Base Camp

We prosecuted the slog down to Paradise in two lengthy sections. The first from 10,080 to 7,500 feet and the second to the parking lot at 5,400 feet. Soon after we left Muir the clouds closed around us and we were in white out conditions. I found that I was now one of the slower people on our team as everyone on the team was either younger than me or had had done considerably less climbing today. We were pushing straight downhill in slushy deep snow with our trekking poles but no crampons. With every step you slid several inches and the task became one of controlling the slide without tumbling over with the full 60-pound pack I was now carrying.

In a few places we actually got to glissade down short hills on our seats, but it hardly seemed worth it, as then I would have to struggle to my feet with my full pack on. Right before the final break my glasses were so badly fogged and the clouds were so think and moist I could barely see anything.

At the rest stop I switched over to my amber ski goggles and everything was much better as I could see again. It was very tiring and monotonous trudging but finally we reached the parking lot at 3:30. After 30 hours, we had successfully summited Rainier and returned safely to the base of the mountain.

Conclusion

We endured an up beat but fatigued 40 minute ride in the van back to base camp. We unloaded and Anders and I each took a much-needed shower. We finally sent e-mails and called Judy to tell folks we were safe. We had to cut it short, as we had to meet with the group. We reassembled as a team and Anders and I received our certificates documenting our successful Summits. I felt so proud of both Anders and my efforts and performance. We said our goodbyes and promised to stay in-touch (now as I write this its two days latter I have already sent the team a bunch of photos with more to come).

Anders and I hit the Base Camp Grill and now feeling very hungry each ordered our own very large pizza. We also grabbed a pitcher of draft Sierra Nevada—we were in heaven. Jared came by and chatted with us for away. Soon some scruffy local climbing dudes came in and we gave them our pizzas as we could only each eat a slice and a half or so. We talked about our climb and all the other possibilities that this earth provides. I think both Anders and I felt proud that we could now legitimately say we were Mountaineers.

I’m not sure where this all goes now. I’d like to climb again but obviously I’ll need to do a better job at preparation. I will not do something as tough as Rainier again without a lot more, highly specific training. I was strong enough to get the job done but I definitely will want a lot more fitness cushion if there is a next time. There are a lot of great mountains to climb and trails to trek in the world and most of them are far easier than Rainier. I’d like to climb some of them—hopefully with Judy and other friends and family. That said, there is a certain mountain in South America that has caught my eye—and the good thing about that one is that it’s far less technical than Rainier (although it is a little bit higher!).

It was awesome to “ride” again with my adventure buddy Anders and we once again helped and encouraged each other to achieve a pretty significant objective. I learned and confirmed a lot about my self and my inner will and courage to get the task in front of me done—no matter how tough. It is a privilege to be able to receive such a lesson.

I am lastly most thankful for the support of my wife and family. This was not an easy one for Judy or them. In a lot of ways this thing that Anders and I just completed did not make sense. But they stuck with us and sharing the struggles and joys of this adventure is very sweet indeed. I arrived home last night (Sunday the 7th) at 8 pm and ended up staying up to 5 am writing much of this history and creating a slide show of our trip. Judy came down at 2 am wondering where I was and we ended up watching the slide show and talking until 5 am. Much that she heard was unsettling but I think she sensed how much this experienced energized me.

Life is great—thanks for reading!

rc

6/8/9


Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:9011 ft / 2747 m
    Distance:19 mi / 30.6 km
    Route:Ingraham Direct
    Trailhead:Paradise  5400 ft / 1645 m
    Grade/Class:Challenging
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Ski Poles, Guide, Hut Camp
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Low Clouds
Nice day to climb
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:11 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:7 Hours 



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