Sarurday, May 29th found us in the Delta Crown Room in the Salt Lake City, UT airport drinking free King's Peak Porters during our layover from ABQ to SEA
Rainier was a bit socked in as we flew into Seattle Saturday afternoon
After landing we drove towards Mount Rainier and found a forest service road to camp on. A single wall, four season tent totally blows in humid and rainy forests. We had puddles in the tent in the morning.
Sorting our gear at the deserted White River trailhead on Sunday, May 30th, 2004. We got our permits from the ranger at the station. $30 each. Our itinerary was Sunday night at Glacier Basin camp, Monday night at Thumb Rock on Liberty Ridge and Tuesday night at Camp Shurman before coming back to the car. The ranger told us only one other team had summited Rainier via Liberty Ridge so far this season. We talked with two climbers in the parking lot that had just attempted the ridge but were turned back at Curtis Ridge by weather.
But the forecast was for clearing the next couple of days so we packed up our packs and departed the trailhead at 4,400' around 4:30pm
The hiking on the way in was gorgeous and we were sweating a bit in our climbing bibs but we opted to wear them to save pack space and weight
We arrived at our camp at Glacier Basin after 3 miles and 1,600' gain at 6:30pm and got setup for the night.
It snowed half an inch overnight. The other tent belonged to another climber, Chris, who was meeting a guided group later in the day to climb the Emmons-Winthrop route
We started up to St. Elmo's Pass at 7:30am and did a bit of post-holing in an old boot track but reached the top of the pass at 7,400' at 8:30am
Beist heading up St Elmo's Pass
Low clouds in the valley slowly moved up and would eventually engulf us making for some tense route-finding on the Carbon glacier later in the morning
Pretty sure this is looking at Curtis Ridge from the top of St. Elmo's Pass
Tricky and slow route finding on the on the lower Winthrop Glacier around 9:30am. We had roped up as soon as we hit the glacier after descending from St. Elmo's Pass
Every now and then the clouds would break and give us a view up the mountain
We dropped down from Curtis Ridge to the Carbon Glacier in a decent whiteout. I had some waypoints in my GPS but it was still tricky
We soon found a set of boot tracks on the Carbon Glacier and, given that we really didn't know where we were, we followed the boot tracks. They were heading in the right direction and if the suddenly disappeared we'd know that was a crevasse.
At one point on the glacier I saw a orange object up ahead and figured it to be a tent. I was sure it was a tent until I got about ten feet away and realized it was an orange newspaper baggie! The whiteout was pretty disorientating.
The boot tracks headed up the hill and then came back so we assumed that was not the way
At 12:45pm we had reached the upper part of the Carbon and would get the occassional glimpse of the ridge. We then met the IMG guided group ahead of us that had put in the boot track and thanked them. They were turning around on account of the weather and some tired folks in the group.
We found the upper Carbon to be heavily crevassed and after quite a bit of searching found only this 60 foot long snowbridge that would get us to the base of the ridge. I tip-toed across as Beist gave me a boot-axe belay. Whew.
We took the skid marks slope up to gain the lower ridge. It was ugly but it worked.
Ah, nice and perfect snow for cramponing up the west side of lower Liberty Ridge around 3:00pm
Pretty serious serac action
Looking back down on the Carbon glacier with our tracks (and the out-n-back boot tracks of the other party) near center of the photo
As we neared Thumb Rock the clouds, as predicted, began to clear and things were getting awesome
Thumb Rock! We reached the formation around 5:00pm. Elevation 10,600'
Clear sky, nice tent platform, sun, no other parties....we were stoked
It had been a 10 hour day with 4,600' of climbing to Thumb Rock. We were ready to eat and hit the sack.
Pretty much felt like we were on top of the world
Sunset at 9:00pm from Thumb Rock. This sunset, and the one from the lower saddle on the Grand Teton in 2002, are two of the most memorable sunsets I've ever seen
Lights of Puget Sound at 3:45am after we awoke a 3:00am to head for the summit
It was cold and the snow pretty firm when we set off up the ridge around 4:30am. This is 5:00am as things started to lighten up
The orange/pink glow of the early morning light really was fantastic and not only warmed our hands, but our souls too
The ridge was pretty unrelenting and offered very few rests. This little rock out cropping at 12,000' was a nice reprieve from being on our toes on glare ice for 1,500' feet. We each carried one ice tool and once ice ax with the idea that if the climbing got really technical, one of us could lead with the two ice tools and the other could follow with the ice axes
Up high around the Black Pyramid formation around 12,200'
Beist takes the lead around 13,000' with the route's major obstacle, the bergschrund, above
The bergshrund required Bill to lead a short pitch up near vertical ice but ultimately wasn't too bad to surmount. He placed one screw and perhaps a picket up higher on the pitch. Above this it was lower angle snow to the summit of Liberty Cap
We reached the summit of Liberty Cap, 14,112', at 10:45am with the weather starting to close in a bit
Self portrait, Liberty Cap, 14,112', 05-28-2004, 10:53am
A lenticular cloud covered the summit of Columbia Crest, the highest of Rainier's three summits (Columbia, Point Success and Liberty Cap). Since we had been on that summit in 2002 via the Emmons-Winthrop route, we opted to head down while the weather was decent
Our beeline descent from Liberty Cap found us "crevassed out" between the Winthrop and Emmons glaciers. We found this little "canyon crevasse" to cross through over to the Emmons glacier proper
We got down to Camp Schurman at 9,460' at 1:45pm. It was deserted and locked with no other campers in the area. Kind of eerie.
As we descended the interglacier below Camp Schurman to Glacier Basin, the weather deteriorated. We were thankful to have made our ascent in just the perfect little window.
Rainier from the highway somewhere. Liberty Ridge is near the right skyline in this photo
After our climb we drove through Seattle to Silverdale, WA to visit my sister, Leigh Ann, her husband Jesse, my nephew Zack and newly-born Haileigh. But on the way we stopped on a side road to take advantage of the sun to dry our wet clothes
Haileigh at the age of roughly two weeks
Leigh Ann, Zack, Jesse and Haileigh
Rainier from the interstate outside of Seattle
That evening we drove to Mount Hood and found a little road to camp at to sleep for a few hours. We got to the parking lot of the ski area at 4:15am
We were skinning up the ski area by 5:00am
Moon action was cool
Looking up at the summit as the day's first light casts a glow on the clouds
A few parties ahead of us
Beist powering it up on the splitboard. Our plan was to snowboard from the summit.
Check out that snowboard park over on the left. We did not session it later in the day.
A bit of a bottle neck below the "Pearly Gates". Thankfully, we had read of an end-around to the left...
We left the crowds that were headed through the Pearly Gates and headed up what the "old crater" variation to the left. No other parties on this variation.
By 8:00am we were on the summit ridge
Beist on the summit at 8:18am. Mount Jefferson in the background
Our little end around saved us a ton of time and we were on the summit for 20 minutes before seeing anyone else up there
Mount St. Helens
Snowboarding down the Old Crater variation. I'm not going to lie to you, the upper part was scary. Icy hard at 8:45 in the morning. We rode down with our ice axes in our hands so we could self arrest if needed.
Icy sun cups don't make for the best riding
But as we got lower, the riding got fun. And fast!
Looking back up the mountain
Back down near the parking lot.
Parting shot of Mount Hood. From here we headed over to Mount Saint Helens for a climb and snowboard descent of that volcano
The next day on the approach up Mount Saint Helens
Mount Hood seen from our hike up Mount Saint Helens
And now Mount Rainier
The crater lake of Mount St. Helens from the rim with Mt. Rainier in the background
Self portrait, Mount Saint Helens, 8,365', 6-4-2004, 12:15am
The turns on Mount Saint Helens were awesome. Buttery spring corn. Well worth hiking up with our boards.
The good stuff. And from here we went to Portland for a much needed hotel room and shower before heading back home to New Mexico.