Mount Rainier- Expedition Skills Seminar
Trip Start Sep 28, 2008
1Trip End Ongoing
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At the advice of well seasoned climbers I set my sights for Mt Rainier to evaluate my current mountaineering skills and get experience on glaciers. This trip was actually a class with RMI, a professional guiding company, that I took with Erin Small. Erin and I have hiked and climber a number of times together over the past ten plus years- so, I was super excited at the opportunity to partner up again.
After a long day of travel Erin and I arrived without our bags to the best B + B in Seattle, the home of Scott Shope's parents, Ed and Diane. They welcomed us with home made meatloaf, baked potatoes and cold beer, Erin skipped the beer. The next day we walked through Seattle watching fish fly and browsing the countless downtown open markets. Thank you Ed and Daine Shope for being such great hosts.
Monday morning our group assembled and began to the hike up to Base camp at 10,000 ft where we will live for the next five days. The hike up was unusually warm and the views were as always breath taking. Erin, Emma (from Scottland) and myself hiked on the heels of Billy, a lead guide, for the entire day. Two germans linger a touch behind us so they can enjoy the view. Everyone else was way back there, five of the fifteen people had weight taken out of their packs just to get to base camp, ouch. By the end of the day everyone was sitting around base camp eating freeze dried dinners.
The next day is the summit day due to the clear and stable winter. At 2 am we bundle up to begin walking roped up through the frozen darkness of the night. The only thing I can see is the back of Erin's boots and the occasional crevasse pass by. At each of the breaks a couple more climbers turned back due to fatigue. Emma, Erin, and I stayed together all the way to the top just like the day before. Two other climbers, Justin and John also made it to the summit for a total of five out of the original fifteen students. At 7 am on the Summit of Mount Rainier the temps were unusually warm at about 25 degree and a firm breeze of 60-70 mph. In the warm windy darkness we snapped some photos and wrote our names in the summit log book before descending back down to base camp for lunch. On the way down the clouds opened up for spectacular views of neighboring Mt St. Helens and Mt Baker.
The final few days were spent in a blizzard at base camp learning all sorts of safety systems needed for expeditions and glacial travel. Much of the material was review for Erin and I, but we kept entertained by learning three variations to the butterfly knot and building anchors.
The group was very diverse doctors, lawyers, bakers, engineers, and then Erin and myself. Most people flew in from China, Germany, NYC, and LA for this seminar and viewed it as a prep class for other guided trips around the world. One person (who summited) took this as a prep for a Denali expedition in the Spring. I shared my intentions to climb Ecuador's Volcan Chimborinzo (20,000+ft) in the spring with the head guide, he thought I was ready. I guess that's what I this trip was all about for me, to get the approval to keep going.
Over and Out,
To take a look at more photos, feel free to go to- http://picasaweb.google.com/bjellison/MountRainer#