Ascent of Mount Rainier on 2004-07-28

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Others in Party:RMI guides Paul Maier
Jeff J Jestin
Barrett Johnston plus 8 climbers
Date:Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Rainier
    Elevation:14411 ft / 4392 m

Ascent Trip Report

I signed up with RMI for a 3 day program (climbing school with a 2 day climb). I did 3 acclimatization climbs on Rainier prior to starting the program.

DAY #1 - I arrived at the RMI headquarters in Ashford, early the day before yesterday (July the 26th) for the climbing school. About 20 people were split into 3 groups and shuttled to Paradise. Our group was led by Paul Maier and Mark.
At 10h00 hrs we climbed to a snowfield at about 6800' elev. We spent the rest of the day practicing walking up/down/traversing steep snow slopes (with and without crampons), rest step, heavy breathing, rope travel and self/group arrest.
Once down to Paradise at 16h30 hrs we were shuffled back to Ashford, where we ensured that all of our gear was in order and were briefed on the next day's climb. We were to meet here at 8h00 hrs.

DAY #2 - Yesterday I checked-in, a group of 27 clients were split into 3 groups (A,B,C), I was put in A group (9 climbers and 3 guides Paul Maier, Jeffrey J Jestin, Barrett Jonston) and bussed to Paradise, elev 5400'.
We started to climb at 10h00 hrs, following the skyline/pebble creek/snowfield route. Once on the snowfield we start with the very regimented RMI climbing technique, all in a single file, led by Paul, Jeff and Barrett. We had 4 short breaks on the way up to Camp Muir, elev 10000', arriving at 15h00 hrs after a 5 hour climb.
Bunks assigned, ate dinner, Paul gave us a 30 minute briefing on the gear/route for tomorrows summit attempt. He'll wake us at midnight and will leave Muir at 1h30 hrs, everyone should be in their bags by 18h00 hrs and try to sleep/get as much rest as possible.

DAY #3 - We leave Camp Muir on schedule with helmet, headlamp, crampons, harness and all roped-up. Paul sets the pace with the rest step/breathing technique, every one follows suit, rope travel/slack has to be maintained. All night your full concentration is on the trail/your next step/breathing/rope slack and the guy ahead of you. Once in a while you get to see the beautifull sight of the bobbing headlamps up/down trail, otherwise it all work and no time to relax. This is adhered-to all day.
The route, well troddened/trenched-out due to the heavy traffic is tough and dangerous with potential rock/icefall. Higher up there are a number of crevasses and the route winds its way thru/around these obstacles. The Ingram Flats/Disappointment Cleaver route climbs to the SE rim where you drop/cross the crater floor to the N rim and to the actual summit at the NW rim.
We had our breaks at Ingram Flats, top of the Cleaver, at about elev 13300' and the final one in the middle of the crater floor. We left our packs here before moving-on to the summit. Breaks are timed to the minute and you are told when to put on your pack and to be ready to leave.
As you cross the crater floor you see hot steam rising in the NE rim area, evidence of volcanic activity "A sleeping Mt St Helens".
WE SUMMITTED MT RAINIER, ELEV 14411', AT 7H30 HRS, AFTER A 6 HOUR CLIMB for my 45th highpoint. 7 of 9 would make it. Nice long break, met highpointer Will Mokszycki and CD, OK Ranger, who spoke at the recent highpointers convention in Puyallup, WA.
We started our descent at 8h30 hrs, again everything regimented/adhered-to. I tripped and fell above the Cleaver, luckily at an area where it wasn't too steep, my crampons got caught on the side of the narrow trenched trail. We had 2 breaks.
Safely down to Camp Muir at 12h00, the dangerous part over, shed our helmets/harness/rope/crampons, after 45 minutes we continued with the rest of the descent.
Back to Paradise at 16h00 hrs after leaving th summit 7 1/2 hour ago, all safe and sound, 18 of 27 would summit today. This was a 14 1/2 hour day.
We were all shuttled back to RMI at Ashford where Paul handed out certificates of accomplishments. My USA-NW climbing trip has come to an end, I fly out of Seattle in 3 days.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4411 ft / 1344 m
    Total Elevation Loss:9011 ft / 2746 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11 mi / 17.7 km
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Guide, Tent Camp
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4411 ft / 1344 m
    Distance:3.2 mi / 5.2 km
    Route:camp muir/ingram flats/disappointment cleaver, #45
    Start Trailhead:camp muir  10000 ft / 3048 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:9011 ft / 2746 m
    Distance:7.7 mi / 12.5 km
    Route:disappointment cleaver/camp muir/skyline trail
    End Trailhead:paradise  5400 ft / 1645 m

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