Sarah and I took a week after the Squamish 50 to do a bit of exploring down South of Vancouver. Our original plan was to take us as far as San Francisco but we quickly opted for a shorter loop through Washington with a stop in Portland.
With all my obsessing over Rainier this season, Sarah was pretty keen to see what all the hype was about. Because of pretty late season conditions, we opted for the standard ascent route. We drove down and sorted gear at a picnic area and then headed up to the Paradise Inn to read in the old lodge by the fire. We got a solid nights sleep in the car and were up early the next morning. The skies were threatening rain so we were keen to get going. About halfway to Camp Muir – our goal for the day – it started to rain so we put our heads down and made good time to the shelter.
We passed the afternoon and evening chatting with some Texans taking a tour of PNW volcanos. We turned in after a dinner of dehydrated beef and broccoli after a near disaster when my watery meal exploded in my sleeping bag.
Most of the groups left throughout the early morning and we opted for a slightly more civil 5:15am departure from the hut. With the sun just starting to peek out, we could see a backlog of teams high on the mountain at the crux crevasse crossings. We cruised up the lower Ingraham Glacier and started picking our way up the exposed volcanic rock (gravel) of the Disappointment Cleaver.
At the top of the cleaver we were back on snow following a waist deep trench switchbacking uphill. The crux crevasses each had a ladder. Two horizontal and one semi-vertical. We set up a quick belay for Sarah to follow me across and then continued up to the summit arriving alongside our new Texan friends. The bulk of the teams were just leaving and we didn’t catch up to them until the return trip at the top of the cleaver.
Our descent was smooth and we found our way back to Camp Muir in just around 7hrs round trip. Quickly packing up, we got a quick start back down to Paradise. We dragged ourselves into the visitor centre for the obligatory gift shot visit and hot dog.
After leaving Rainier, we opted for a nice hotel room in a Seattle suburb. From there we headed back North to Bellingham and the Mt Baker area. We had a nice day exploring Bellingham and investigating its best Mexican food offerings.
We also managed an awesome run from the Mount Baker ski area linking a loop trail and the classic Ptarmigan Ridge hike. We didn’t run the full ridge because of whiteout conditions but I would happily go back to see the views on a nice day.
After a long run at Baker, we both realized we were feeling the combined effects of the Squamish 50 and Rainier and decided to point the car back to Squamish for a couple days of rest before jetting off to visit our respective parents.
Rainier Equipments/Logistics Notes:
- Deciding between a tent and the shelter is tough. In a tent you have to deal with setting it up possibly in the rain and potentially not sleeping much if its windy. Also less space to sort gear/prep. The shelter is full of noisy people so unlikely to sleep there either. I think the shelter is the lesser of two evils. Less weight to carry without the tent and you can use a colder sleeping bag. Just bring an iPod and earplugs instead.
- I forgot to bring drink mix. This was sad as it is always easier to drink dirty glacier water when it is mixed into tea/apple cider/Gatorade.
- On a similar note, dehydrated beef and broccoli is gross. It turned out like partially cooked soup as have my many other attempts at dehydrated meals. From now on, I’m going with macaroni and cheese. It only causes slight more dirty dishes and is WAY more enjoyable to eat.
- I saw lots of two-person teams with 60meter single ropes. This seems silly to me. We carried a 30m Beal Rando Half rope. It was plenty long to have a good interval between the two of us and leftover in my pack just in case.
- I used a new MEC Alpinelite 20-something liter pack as a stuff sack for clothing from Paradise to Muir and then carried just that as my summit pack. It was way nicer than dealing with a bulky 50L pack on the summit.