Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rainier Journal: Day Two

We woke up this morning to the faint tapping of a northwestern drizzle, the kind that seems to hang in the air and only make everything damp. After breakfast we piled everything into the cars and headed to the ranger station to pick up our permits. The clouds were hanging thick on the mountain, but we kept catching glimpses of Rainier's lower glaciated slopes. Paradise is a nice starting point. The rangers helping us with our permits had just come down from a 30 hour push to rescue an injured climber.

Soon we were on snow, with such a deep snow year we were hiking in May like conditions. The fog came in thick and made our route finding a little trickier. It wasn't long before we pulled out our crampons and began crossing the glacier. With all the snow crevasses were few. The ones we crossed were less than a foot wide, still, this was my first time being on a glacier seeing the blue ice fade to black down in the crevasse.

We continued upward for hours in the fog until we were granted a little break in the clouds. The sun peaked out and we were given the opportunity to see our surroundings. The rugged terrain stopped us all in our tracks. The cameras came out and we all took our time taking pictures of the cracked glacier and the massive hanging seracs. The clouds were sweeping up bellow us and we were soon back in the fog. We took our turns at the front, one member of our group who will remain nameless (Dave) was terrorizing the group with his potent alpine air.  At one point I was behind him in the line and I was stopped in my tracks. I stayed in front of him, or as far behind him as I could get for the rest of the ascent.

We eventually reached our high camp at 10,500 ft. It began to snow after we had our tents up. I was sharing a tent with Darren, the expedition leader. We all settled in and had dinner. We talked for a couple hours about everything from climbing to literature, even sharing the stories about how we met the women in our lives.

I am glad he let me come on this trip. There are only eight of us on this route. In the small amount of interaction I have had with those here I can safely say I am glad each one is here. There was a great group synergy on the way up.
 Getting ready.
 Into the fog we went.
 Party line.
This is when the clouds opened up and we got our first glimpse of the glacier.
 This puppy was hanging over our camp.... we were out of the fall line but it was huge.

High camp. It snowed on us.

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