Ascent of Mount Rainier on 2004-08-04

Climber: Fred Newman

Date:Wednesday, August 4, 2004
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Rainier
    Elevation:14411 ft / 4392 m

Ascent Trip Report

Participated in a 6-day "Wilderness Seminar" with RMI involving a carryover of the Kautz Chute and descent of the DC. Having done a handful of 14ers in Colorado I figured I was ready for Mt Rainier. This was the first time I had ever held an ice axe properly, used crampons, wore a harness outside, stood on a glacier, or climbed ice. There were 7 clients and 3 guides. 3 of the other clients were friends from Albuquerque where I was living at the time.

Day 1 - Comet Falls TH to ~7700' on Van Trump Glacier. Snow camp.
Day 2 - Snow school axe & crampons. Move camp to the Castle.
Day 3 - Crevasse rescue training on Wilson Glacier. Used an ATC for the first time to rappel. Some additional snow school higher up on the Turtle.
Day 4 - Ascend Turtle to Camp Hazard and rap station. I was instructed to rappel on a Muenter hitch, although luckily I was placed on a back up line belayed by guides. I became confused about brake vs. release since the Muenter hitch has the opposite sense of an ATC. Lost balance and fell over backwards, feet over head and helpless to correct an inverted orientation. Lead guide free soloed up 20-30' of crappy seamless rock (2004 was a low snow year) and yanked my feet over to right me. Climbed the ice chute with single mountaineering axe, simul-climbing with other clients, though belayed towards the top of the pitches. Ascended further on Kautz Glacier to camp on snow at top of Wapowety Cleaver in fog and wind.
Day 5 - Summit and descend to Camp Muir. Camp just south of Muir Peak on the snow. Clear in the morning becoming cloudy during the day, but always good visibility. Windy at the summit.
Day 6 - Pack camp and descend in whiteout. Snow turned to rain by the time we reached Paradise.

An unpleasant experience in many aspects, though with lessons learned contributing to the success of later climbs of this and other mountains. I contended with general lack of fitness, experience, and nutritional challenges. Also I had injured my right hand in the preceding weeks by punching something in the lab out of frustration, and had a mild metacarpal sprain which made rope work a little challenging.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Glacier Climb, Ice Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Guide
    Nights Spent:5 nights away from roads
Ascent Statistics
    Route:Kautz Ice Chute
Descent Statistics

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