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Summary

The following is a report on an excursion to the top of Mt. Rainier in Washington State from June 28th to July 3, 1997.  The self-guided team consisted of Chad Margolin, Karl Diederich, Keith Powell, Shawn Noe (all from Tucson), and Roy Grossinger and Matt Brink (from Washington State).  Although our group had limited mountaineering experience, we were well prepared, and with cooperation from the weather, we all reached the summit on this trip.  Most importantly, all of our team had a wonderful time and were able to gain valuable experiences that we will always remember.


Credits

My parents for a proper introduction to the mountains.
Roy and Karl for contributing to this trip report.
Karl for introducing me to technical climbing.
The team for working together and making good decisions.



Background

Starting in 1996, Karl and myself had been planning monthly mountaineering trips in Arizona, with only the intention of spending some time with friends while exploring some of AZ's interesting peaks (see below).  By the beginning of 1997, we had become more focused on doing climbs as preparation for Mt. Rainier.  The genesis of the Mt. Rainier aspiration was linked to an earlier visit I made to Seattle.  On this visit I was able to hike at the base of Mt. Rainier and talk with my cousin Norman who has made multiple climbs of the mountain.

 1. 19/20 October   96   Superstition Peak
 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




Diary

Saturday, June 28, 1997

Keith,Keith, Shawn and I in CA: Are we there yet? 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, June 29, 1997

SundayAt start, who will survive? 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.

Monday, June 30, 1999

KarlCold (and deep) water below. 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.

"BeforeRainier Rain Forest. 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,Freezing rain, zero visibility, gotta love it! 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).

Tuesday, July 1, 1999

We Camp Curtiswoke 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 Working hard & moving up2:15 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).

Wednesday, July 2, 1999

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 Descending (or ascending with a powerful flash!)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.Sunrise 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 One of many cravasses to cross.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 Rainier's crater rim, tents in bottom left.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.
"...weDescending to Camp
Sherman 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.

Thursday, July 3, 1999

InGlissading 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.
 

Great Trip!!!