Ascent of Mount Rainier on 2014-08-09

Climber: Tye Scott

Date:Saturday, August 9, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Rainier
    Elevation:14411 ft / 4392 m

Ascent Trip Report

I asked my best friend, Jason, to join me on this trip as I knew he had a good amount of mountaineering experience. It took little to convince him as he had been defeated by Rainier twice due to weather. His only concern stemmed from one of our hunting trips where we learned our uphill speeds varied a fair amount. I assured him he could lead and we'd be able to go at his pace, besides, it'd be another fun adventure for us. The only decision left was which route and when.

Jason and I planned for a late July or early August accent and very serendipitously we both had cancellations for the August 8th weekend. So after work Thursday, we drove to the White River Campground area and slept in the back of his pickup in a pullout about a mile from there. We woke up Friday morning around 7am with plans to make it to Camp Schurman sometime that afternoon, a rather leisurely day of hiking. The trail started off meandering through the woods, offering several views of the giant mass of a mountain that lay before us. Weather couldn't have been any more spectacular, crystal blue skies, green forests, sunny and 80. Since time was on our side we stopped for several photos ops and chatted with a number of people along the way. Gradually we worked up through the trees and into lower Inter-Glacier. There we donned the crampons but decided the rope was unnecessary as the sun had warmed up the snow enough to sink into it quite well. It was at this point too that we met 2 other guys who were hoping to make the summit. However, as the 4 of us made our way up Inter-Glacier it was quite apparent that they'd have to turn around as one of the guys was incredibly scared of the heights and falling. I actually ended up walking with that guy for roughly half the way up Inter-Glacier and learned that he mapped caves in the midwest and felt more comfortable on his stomach squeezing beneath 8" gaps 1/2 mile beneath the ground.

Inter-Glacier was somewhat of a deceiving accent...actually that could be generalized to all of Mt. Rainier. Just as you were about to near the crest, or so you thought, you'd come to find out there was another little section that remained. Eventually we reached the real crest and were able to see the route we needed to go to reach Camp Schurman but first we stopped for a water break while soaking up the sun and taking in the spectacular views. Jason was doing rather well though the hot sun and long hours of hiking had him ready to call it a day sooner than later. With that in mind we grabbed our gear and made the trek over to Camp Schurman which took another 45 minutes, passing by 2 larger crevasses.

Camp Schurman offers beautiful views and several places to set up camp along with an outhouse. We pitched the tent, toured the area, chatted with people, and I surprised Jason with a Rainier Beer with dinner...much to his delight. Our plan for the summit was to leave early as we intended to summit and hike out to the pickup that same day. I slept rather poorly as I simply wasn't tired and perhaps the altitude prevented me from drifting off...or it could have been the snores coming from Jason. In any case, we awoke in the middle of the night, donned all our gear, and set off.

The skies were illuminated with a full moon and millions of stars; it was breathtaking. As we looked up the face of the mountain you could spot 3 little groups of headlamps which reminded me of something you'd see on the Discovery Channel. The first couple hours went by quite easily. The route was clearly marked by previous summiteers and the light provided by the full moon certainly helped. Jason was clipping along at a pretty good pace too. Up through 'The Corridor' and beyond we went, stopping occasionally for photos and nutritional breaks. As the sun began to crest over the horizon we quickly realized how massive of a mountain Rainier is. Obviously it's tall and that was of no surprise but the sheer volume is impressive...especially when compared to the surrounding terrain. Jason began to slow down a bit but we still made fairly good time passing over and around several crevasses and past what appeared to be a fumarole as we traversed around the northwest side. While it was a beautiful day the sun was HOT but 9 hours after we set off we stood atop Mt Rainier, a first for me and a first for Jason (15 years after his initial attempt). From the Columbia Crest we soaked up the sun, downed water, and ate some food. Naturally we took some photos to celebrate and Jason made a little video to send his mom while I took a 15 minute siesta. Knowing we had the hardest part of the mountain out of the way but recognizing we still had a long way to go to get back to the pickup we started back down.

Our trip back down to Camp Schurman was pretty uneventful though the last hour was quite grueling for Jason. We had run out of water and 2 days of solid hiking had taken its toll on him, plus I think he was in the early stages of heat stroke. Upon arriving back to camp I dipped a towel into the glacial runoff and threw it on Jason while he laid in a shady area. After boiling a bunch of water and cooking us up some lunch I broke down camp and got our bags prepared for the final descent. Jason felt a lot better after fueling up the tank and cooling down but I could see he was ready to get off the mountain. We stuck together until about midway down Inter-Glacier whereupon he told me to go ahead and I began my usual run down.

Back at the pickup I unloaded all my gear then headed straight for the river where I soaked my feet and washed up; it felt amazing. Jason arrived just over an hour later looking like he was on his final leg but sporting one of the most accomplished smiles I've ever seen. He was sincerely proud of his accomplishment and rightfully so. I was very thankful to have him along. After Jason unloaded we hopped in the pickup and made the 6 hour drive home making for one incredibly long day.

It's been a year since I summited Rainier and many of the finer details have escaped me but the memories of that weekend I shared with Jason will last a lifetime. Sadly, Jason passed just 6 months after our Mt Rainier summit doing what he loved, enjoying the outdoors. He was 35.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:10179 ft / 3102 m
    Route:Emmons Glacier
    Trailhead:White River Campground  4232 ft / 1289 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Days 9 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:8 Hours 

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