Mt. Rainier, Washington (14,410')
July 6-8, 1998
part of muellerworld
Mt. Rainier was the sixth of seven mountains I climbed on my summer vacation.
I chose to climb with the RMI Guiding service. I wouldn't climb with them again, but I can't say that the trip was awful. I did meet two outstanding people in the group and most of our group summited and the weather was wonderful. With the exception of a kind and strong guide named Brenda, the guides seemed pretty arrogant and were very short with people. I suppose that they have a job to do the same as everyone, but they just wern't overly pleasant. They were, however very capiable mountianeers and most had done some very impressive climbs all over the world (he wasn't a guide on our trip, but read Dave Hahn's account of a late-80's climbing mess and the story of trying to get back to RMI to guide clients with no sleep...).
Camp Muir is always spoken of as a horrible, tight and crowded place, but I liked it. There were two or three snorers in our group and I was able to get a little sleep before our midnight departure. At about 10pm I was outside for a pee break and saw the full moon hanging high over Mt. Adams. It was so bright that headlamps wern't needed.
The actual climb was long, but not technically difficult (see RMI's map). The first half (before Disappointment Cleaver) was much harder then the second half. In all, it was a very long day, a very long slog up a very big mountain. We skirted around a few gaping crevasses, crossed one ladder, and at the summit a few of us made the 45-minute round trip across the crater to Columbia Cest, the true summit of the mountain.
The rope I was on was led by one of the lead guides, and he stopped constantly on the way down to do "trail maintence", especially below a few of the major ice falls. Considering that a man had been killed 6 weeks earlier in an avalanche in the same general area (above Dissappointment Cleaver), many of the people on the rope disagreed with his choice to stop below the ice for 10 minutes at a time while mini-avalanches sluffed off around us. He assured it that it was safe, but it seemed an unnecessary risk, especially with clients on the line.
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