Peak(s):  Mt. Rainier - 14411
Date Posted:  07/09/2009
Date Climbed:   07/02/2009
Author:  EatinHardtack
 Mt. Rainier and Beyond   

My trip to Mt. Rainier began in December of 2008 when my parents presented me with a guided climb through Rainier Mountaineering Inc. for Christmas. Needless to say I was pretty excited about the opportunity to climb Rainier and a chance to explore the Pacific Northwest. My climb dates had been set at July 1st and 2nd with a day of school before the climb started. As the months of winter finally started giving way to spring I began to really hit up some of our home 14er's and 13er's. This was my training as I am not one for a gym membership, and I don't run (unless being chased by something, so climbing and hiking was the rule for me. I felt as though my health and conditioning were spot on for this climb and I never thought twice about it. Let me just say that prior to making the trip I was in the need for some gear that I didn't have or needed for the climb. For a few weeks prior to Rainier I felt like it was Christmas as I was getting new gear all the time, boy was that fun.

Finally it was the end of June, my tip was about to begin and the anticipation level was high. When I started to finalize travel arrangements I decided to drive to Rainier instead of flying. Now I have traveled extensively across the eastern United States but since moving to Colorado the furthest west I have been is, sad to say, Aspen. This was a major decision maker for me and so I was driving. After all said and done I traveled to 6 new states I hadn't been to, 2 national parks, many state parks, the Pacific, many new beers and 3,610 miles of driving.

My trip to Mt. Rainier had me going through southern Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and finally Washington. I was not sure what to expect on my road trip and I was somewhat surprised at the scenery I encountered along the way. For instance when I crossed into Washington from Oregon the Washington State sign read " The Evergreen State", well I gave that sign the finger because all I saw was brown, brown, a dust devil and more brown.

I actually did not mind the 18 hours of driving to reach my destination as everything was new to me. Finally after driving through the Yakima Valley I saw the objective that lay at hand. It was quite a sight.

After arriving in Ashford we had our first meeting with the guides to go over our gear for the climb. The next day was our school before the actual ascent of the mountain. The guides covered everything from self arrest, team arrest, roped travel and more. I also just want to say that the guides were extremely professional and a lot of fun to be around. Two of our guides had made the summit of Denali this past year and both are guiding it next year for RMI. It was also nice to hear their stories from other parts of the world they had climbed and traveled to. After the school we retired back to Ashford for some dinner.

The following day was our trip from Paradise to Camp Muir. We finalized our packing and details and headed up to Paradise from Ashford. The trip to Camp Muir was intensely hot as there was not one cloud in the sky. The sun just seemed to bake us the entire trip up. Every chance I got I put on spf 70 sunscreen and I still managed to get a fair amount of sun. The pace to Muir was slow and steady as the guides wanted everyone to stick together. This was actually pretty nice since I was mainly taking in the views the entire time. I was also pretty comfortable with my pack weight and pack to Muir. It was nice that I got everything I needed into a 44L pack, unlike some climbers with expedition size packs on. Ahh what pleasure it was not to worry about a tent or other equipment that most independent climbers needed to bring, that was a nice relief.

We made the trip to Muir and began to get settled in for the night. Everyone got their respective bunk together and started to make dinner. The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying each others company outside the hut and taking in the views. I ended up falling asleep around 6:30 that night and slept pretty damn good. Most of the other climbers in the bunk house got anywhere from an hour to 4 hours of sleep. I felt pretty fortunate that I slept the entire time until we were woken up at midnight to get ready. After getting up from our bunks everyone choked down breakfast and started getting ready for the ascent. Everyone was on the trail, roped up and ready to start the climb at 1am. As we started our traverse of the Cowlitz Glacier I realized that I was the very last person in the entire group heading up. This happened to be one of my best experiences of the trip. I was able to watch 23 people ahead of me climb under a starry sky only to be seen by their headlamps making progress across the glacier. This moment has to be one of the best I have had yet in the mountains. Through the dark we arrived at Ingraham flats and took our first break before crossing the Ingraham Glacier. After a short 10 minute break we made our way to the base of Disappointment Clever. The ascent of the clever was a mix of rock and snow and made for some slow climbing. After our group got above the clever we had our next break and gazed to the east as the sun was making it own ascent for the day.

After our short break above the clever we started back to the task at hand and made our traverse to the Emmons Glacier. While on the Emmons we stopped and enjoyed the sunrise. Soon afterwards we made it to yet one more break before the final summit push. The weather was perfect with a cloudless sky and hardly any wind to speak of. Around 7am we finally made the summit crater and dropped packs. The guides asked if anyone wanted to sign the register and climb to the actual summit, my response "hell yea I do". About 9 of us walked the 10 minutes to the register and signed in amongst the rising steam from the volcano. Another 10 minutes after the register we made the summit of Columbia Crest at 14,411 and got our summit pictures.

We were on the summit for about 20 minutes with great views of Mt. Adam's, St. Helen's, and Hood to the south. The group made it back to the crater and roped up for the descent. The descent was pretty normal but it started to really heat up on us. The group took another break above disappointment clever and prepared for the final leg of the descent. After our break one group descended the shoulder of the Ingraham glacier while the other two descended the direct route down the clever. This is where I started to really enjoy myself on the descent, the dry tooling was actually enjoyable and the views were amazing. At the bottom of the clever we waited in line for our traverse across the ingraham glacier. After the final descent into Muir we were all relieved that everyone had made it down safely. The descent from Muir to Paradise was BRUTALLY hot as yet again there was not one cloud in the sky. We strolled into the paradise parking lot amongst the tourists and began to relax. We all loaded up into the bus and made our 30 minute trip back to Ashford. We arrived in Ashford and while some of our climbing partners departed some stayed behind for a few pitchers of beer together with the guides.

I made my way to Portland afterwards, found a hotel, took an hour long shower and passed out. The next few days I spent along the Oregon and California coast enjoying the ocean and the sites. This was not only a climb for me but a great life experience that I will never forget.

Eastern Washington and Oregon


Trees grow bigger up in these woods.

Following in his footsteps.

First day of school!

The guides Paul and Tyler.

The school before the climb.

Climbing from Paradise.

About halfway to Muir.

Resting with a great view.

Again great views.

The other team, we were in the passing lane.

Home sweet Home.

Resting and eating the traditional Luna (women's energy bar).

Sunrise, which would later become known as the Death Star. So Hot.

Partners Jack and Dave.

The Emmons Glacier.

Little Tahoma

Final Summit push.

Signing the register and the guide Paul.


The Team!

Ingraham Glacier.

Ahh the Pacific.

Redwoods National Park.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

cool trip man
07/10/2009 03:25
if i had more money, I would‘ve done the same. I‘ve always wanted to cruise the 101 from Seattle to San Fran(and Big Sur). I felt the exact same way about the crossing into E.Washington. Not even the surreal views of Utah could make up for E.Oregon and Washington. Thats one hell of a drive for sure, if I had known who you were, we probably could‘ve had a chat on the summit, I recognize you and your team, but I was feeling kind of weird and tired and hungry. Those pitchers at Whittakers bar were very much welcomed, good stuff.


Right on!
07/10/2009 03:48
Congratulations on your summit! It was great to ”relive” it all through your TR. RMI is truly a great operation. And I can totally relate to that ”BRUTAL” heat. Hot, intense sun plus humidity equals pain. But it swings the other way, too, where the cold feels even colder with humidity. Anyway, great TR, and thanks for sharing! I‘m glad you got to see some of the West/Pacific, too.


Those Luna Bars are Great
07/10/2009 03:56
...for keeping the testosterone in check! Critical on a peak like this one :-)
Hey, nice job Zach - it looks like you were ready for this and the weather let you in; what more can a guy ask for (besides a day on the beach)? Congrats.


What an Experience!
07/10/2009 04:12
What a sweet experience! Ideal weather in my book giving you fantastic visibility albeit as you said warm at times - thanks for sharing your experience with the 14er clan! Hitting Yale Saturday - ! Cheers! KG


Good job!
07/10/2009 14:30
I am really happy for you Zach! I remember how excited you were to tackle that one, obviously your training paid off. Besides the obvious stuff (Glacier travel) was it physically more demanding than the 14ers here? And I just wanted to wish you Congatulations!


07/11/2009 00:00
Thank you everyone for all the comments. It was a great mountain and such a great experience.

Jason- I actually didn‘t find the ascent all that much different than climbing here in Colorado. Climbing with more weight than I am use to was a little more difficult but not bad and the final descent from Muir to Paradise is what finally took it out of me. Other than that is was great.


07/13/2009 02:15
What an awesome experience - glad you had great - albeit HOT - conditions. Nice write up - especially liked your comment about being the guy at the end of the group, the perspective of 23 headlamps in front of you under the stars. Awesome, Zach!
Congrats on a great adventure!
I LOVE the pacific coast - that‘s a great picture, too - makes me want to go!
Cheers! Nancy


Thanks for the TR
07/19/2009 14:37
Zack, thanks for the Trip Report and great photos. I appreciate having someone document that trip. You slept much better than I did in ”the hut” that night.

Gerry ‘Colorado rope team - Group A‘


Nice Job!
03/04/2012 18:31
Good Job Zach! Glad you made it.Congrats!

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