Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rainier Journal: Summit Day

Darren popped out my earplug jarring me from the few hours of deep sleep I had been able to muster. We climbed into the tent at about 5 p.m. trying to sleep while the sun was still high. It was now 11 p.m. I readied myself for the long day with a few bites of trail mix and some of Darren's leftover BBQ chicken... probably not the best way to start a day that would end up with my being awake for the next 26 hours.

Note: bring good breakfast food for summit day... never ever ever do powdered eggs again...

We hiked through the rock for a while gaining a quick 1,000 vertical. We roped up and descended a fixed line into the "ice chute"... there was still too much snow so no ice had formed up making it a mellow ascent. We were in two rope teams of four as we headed up the steeper slopes. Dawns alpenglow hit us shortly after the moonrise. The blue light illuminated the vast expanse bellow us making it look like we were on top of the world. At one point I even looked down on a plane... I have no idea what he was doing flying so low...  14,000 ft isn't really that high.

We came to our first large crevasse. I thought the others were deep, but these up higher on the glacier were shocking, you don't really understand until you see them. We navigated them and eventually had to hop a couple. They were easier on the way up but they still got your heart going.

Eventually we hit 13,000 ft. as the sun came up. The next 1,411 feet went pretty fast considering the mellow pace we took. I didn't feel like pushing any harder than we did. We reached the summit cap and walked the rim of the crater until we were on the true summit. It was an interesting experience being there, something surreal that still doesn't feel real. A completely nonsensical accomplishment that you can't understand until you have done something similar.

Our descent went a little slow but jumping back across the crevasses proved to be more fun than on the way up. I walked to the edge when it was my turn to jump. The little three foot gap didn't look so bad as the others jumped it, but everyone seemed to have to build up a mental edge to do it. I stood on the edge and looked down into the deep dark hole... it went about 100 ft before disappearing out of sight... I counted to three a few times in my head before I finally made the jump. I have never jumped across a three foot gap that felt that big... in my mind it probably was equal to a 70 foot kicker on my snowboard. Darren even got to the edge and went through the same mental coaxing we all did... He thought it would be one you could just walk up to and hop across, but it didn't seem to work like that for anyone. Dave almost fell in when he went, his right leg didn't quite make it, but he was fine with the good axe plant he had made as soon as he hit the other side.

We pushed down to camp, packed up and began to glissade. Darren, Dave, and I got on our way early and went down first. It went fast... sometimes you would get moving quicker than you liked and hit some icy lumps which made the fun a little less fun.

We finally reached the bottom. Jen, Darren's wife, screamed with surprise and ran straight to Darren. Everyone else trickled in slowly. We were all beat with a long drive still ahead. After some pizza and changing clothes we were on the road. We all were in and out of laughing and sleeping for the next couple hours of driving.

We got a hotel next to a strip club. Fancy. The next day we were homeward bound. It was an amazing trip.

Crevasse holes.

 Darren enjoying the summit.
 Jumping back across.

 Dan Thrasher on the down climb.
 I ran across this as soon as I snapped this picture. What an amazing place.
 Down we go.

1 comment:

  1. AMAZING ANDS!! these picss are siiiiiick!!! stoked for you, congrats thats amazing! Im glad you are safe :)
    That crevasse is GNARLY!