Instructions - For all the miniature
pictures that follow:
1.) put your mouse over the picture to get a popup explanation
2.) click on the pictures to get a normal size view
1. 19/20 October 96 Superstition
2. 9/10 November 96 Baboquivari Peak
3. 14/15 December 96 Finger Rock
4. 18/19 January 97 Weaver's Needle
5. 15/16 February 97 Elephant Dome
6. 15/16 March 97 Humphrey's Peak
7. 19/20 April 97 Cochise East
8. 10/11 May 97 Gila River
9. 14/15 June 97 Rappel Rock
10. 28 June to 3 July Mount Rainier <--- This Trip report
Keith, Shawn, Keith and I picked up our rental car on Saturday morning in Tucson, and started our drive to Washington. We did an REI stop in Phoenix, drove through LA, and stayed in a hotel near Sacramento.
Sunday we completed the drive, but not before reading more about crevasse rescue, and stopping at yet another REI. "The drive out to Rainier was filled with views of this giant. Rainier's monopoly of the landscape really has to be experienced to be appreciated"(-Karl). We made it to White River Campground late that night, and joined with Karl and Helen.
Karl and I went down to the ranger station to get permits for the group. I was concerned that the lack of permit availability or our lack of documentable mountaineer experience would be a problem. There were plenty of permits left, and our discussions with the rangers convinced them we were prepared to self guide. Big relief (at least for me - Karl, of course, was not worried). Now it's just between us and the mountain. The plan was to make it to Camp Schurman (about 1/2 way up the mountain) by nightfall, and join Roy and Matt for our summit attempt.
"Before we had covered the three miles to Glacier Basin (which is at the foot of Inter Glacier), we had already reached solid snow. We set out across the bottom of the glacier, and then started our climb to what looked like the top of this glacier.
First it rained on us. Then the clouds moved in, and we were in whiteout conditions, wondering how much good bringing a GPS would have been. Chad, always concerned that any weekend out hiking might possibly have been better spent viewing the mountains whilst hang gliding, reported being at cloud base.
It turned out that what had looked like the top of the glacier was only the knee in the slope. Above this, we weren't sure if we had crossed onto Emmons Glacier. We roped up. The clouds played around, and gave us tantalizing views. Finally, after a search by Chad that must have taken him within a few hundred yards of the chute down the prow into Camp Schurman, we made camp. The glacier shovel purchased on the drive up from Tucson proved most valuable"(-Karl).
We woke to clear morning skys. The visibility allowed us to get a compass fix and determine we had camped on a glacier near Camp Curtis. It was only about a one-hour trek to Camp Schurman where we joined Matt and Roy. Here we found ample snow caves from previous groups to provide our tents the necessary protection from the wind.
"At 2:15 we got together for a meeting. We discussed our departure time: 2:00am was agreed upon. Also, we practiced crevasse rescue: the Z-pulley system, the C-pulley system, prusik knots, and ascender use. The group of 7 then went to a nearby couloir to practice ice axe arrests. We had a great time falling down the slope, sometimes sliding on our backs, head first. Following many slides, we laid out our gear for drying and set up for a dinner of pasta"(-Roy).
We woke to a cold, clear windless morning at 1:00 am.
Glaciated mountaineering is frequently done at night when the glacier is
hard and the weather is less problematic. We divided into two
rope teams. And began our summit bid.
"Even in the dark, the route was easy to follow, with lots of footsteps in the snow. The headlamp was needed only to pick out details or important things further away"(-Karl).
"We passed only a few small crevasses in the early goings. As we headed higher they expanded some. The sunrise was next, and a most beautiful sight it was! I doubt I will have the opportunity to see that gorgeous view ever again. At several points I felt that if I looked around I would not want to continue. I was also made nervous by the sounds of the glacier cracking and groaning under my feet. Then the thought that we were climbing an active volcano, what was I doing here? I shouldn't be here. However, my thoughts were riveted to making the right steps, not stepping on the rope, keeping the correct slack, and making sure the ice axe was planted and handled right"(-Roy). The light and warmth of the unbelievable sunrise was viewed from above the clouds.
Prior to leaving for Rainier, "we had passed around and recommended reading the appropriate chapters of the Mountaineers' _Freedom of the Hills_. Keith didn't think the cartoons of the climber leaping crevasses applied to the most glaciated peak in continental U.S. But [ despite Keith's incorrect assumption ] everyone got across all the crevasses without incident"(-Karl).
"Once regrouped, we headed for the summit. A few more vertical feet and we were on top of the summit ridge! Below was the crater, and off the right was the actual summit. We unroped, dropped our crampons and scurried (slowly at this altitude) to the barren wind-swept summit"(-Roy). We summited at about 9:00 am.
"The view from the summit was fantastic. The rangers said it was as often as not that you could see the far side of the crater. Our views included Baker, Saint Helens, huge Adams, Jefferson, and even extended to Mount Hood in Oregon. The recent storm systems had not only given us fairly fresh snow, but had cleared out the atmosphere to boot"(-Karl).
Our return to Camp Schurman was done in high spirits and
even better weather.
"...we relaxed and enjoyed camp, bathed in the warm sunny climate, caught up on sleep, and cooked dinner and melted snow for water for our exit the next day. Of the five stoves the seven of us had brought, only two were working well.
the morning, we broke camp and headed to the bottom on the mountain.
Warm sun softened the snowfield near Inner Glacier and prompted us to try
our glissading skills. That evening we stayed with my cousin, Norman,
and his wife Margaret, on Mercer Island near Seattle. The following
day he treated us to a boat ride on Lake Washington, which resulted in
some very fresh Salmon for lunch.