Thursday, May 13, 2010

Climbing Mt Rainier to Camp Muir Base Camp

Today we extended our training for our upcoming Mt Rainier summit attempt by hiking up to Camp Muir (3050 m/ 10,000 ft in elevation) carrying full  overnight backpacks.

Most often, a climb to the top of Mt Rainier requires two or three days.

Day 1:  Hikers climb to Camp Muir, pitch tents, and quickly go to sleep.

Day 2: Hikers wake up at 0100 in the morning and begin climbing to the mountain's summit while roped to other members of the climbing team. training hike today was like Day 1 of an actual summit attempt.  I can describe today's hike very succinctly. 

It was a beautiful sunny day.
It was a grueling, strenuous climb to Camp Muir.
It was a mind-numbing slog back down the mountain through deep, soft snow.
The scenery was gorgeous - absolutely spectacular. 

I wish photographs could capture the sights and silences I experienced on the mountain, they can't.  Still, please enjoy my photo slideshow below.  

The view I have from here is beyond description.  Behind me is the Muir snow field; mid-picture is the Tatoosh mountain range; and in the distant background, below the coal blue sky is Mount Adams - another volcano (it's tiny image is on the right). 

Little Tahoma Peak juts up behind me as I stand at Camp Muir.  Little Tahoma is the third highest peak in Washington state - Mt Rainier is the highest.

This is the massive rock that is directly behind me in the above picture. When I climb Mt Rainier, I will cross the glacier (in foreground) toward the right side of that rock, hike around and behind the rock, then climb to the left up to the summit (can't see summit from here - it is much to high).

As the sun started it's descent, so did we.  The sun cast shadows over this glacier's sculptured contours; we gazed, awe struck, wondering whether we should stay and watch or continue on down the mountain.

We continued our descent.  Along the way, as the sun continued to lower in the sky, the shadows shifted as did the landscape and I captured the images below as well.

By looking closely you may see a striated pattern of lines in the snow (mid-screen).

The well lit glacier at the top of this photo, ramping from right to left, had a shimmering, soft, mirror-like texture like none I have ever before seen.

A view of Mount St Helens (background) and the Tatoosh Mountain Range (foreground).

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Mount Walker 5/8/2010

Today a climbing friend and I hiked up to the summit of Mount Walker - this was a "training" hike which provided a great view of the Puget Sound when we reached the mountain top. 

Why a training hike?  Well, we donned much larger and heavier backpacks (mine had lead weights inside)  as we hiked up the relatively steep slopes of Mt Walker to prepare for our Mount Rainier summit attempt at the end of this month. 

Here are two nice pictures I shot from the top of Mt Walker.  

Puget Sound
Olympic Mountain Range Interior

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Climbing to Mailbox Peak - 01 May 2010

Across the ice
a cold wind blows.
Quiet frozen green.

This is the essence of my Mailbox Peak summit experience.

I can only add that the trail was inconceivably muddy, a very deep and dark red-brown sludge, rising 4000 feet in elevation gained over 2.5 miles.

Wind - steepness - mud.

Me at the summit

Almost total whiteout enveloped us soon after reaching the summit

Frozen tree near summit

Warning sign for steep trail

The trailhead mud