We left Columbia Crest and headed back to the crater for a quick snack and water break. Then the descent. OY!
JJs team left first and then we headed out after they were already gone. I think Stuart wanted to catch them as our pace down made our pace up look like we had been sleeping. We ran down that MOFO! We met up with JJ on top of the cleaver which we were NOT excited about descending. Luckily, Stuart realized the shoulder of the Cleaver would be much less scary so we descended that way. But, we saw EVERYTHING that we didn't see on the way up! Much scarier when you can see it!
Stuart had me lead through the Cleaver and all was fine until I made a decision but it wasn't the right one. Eventually we got back on track and Stuart took the lead. We made it through the Cleaver, ran through the Ice Fall and made it back to high camp. 20 minutes to pack our gear that we left, and we roped up and headed back over Cathedral Gap into Camp Muir and the kitchen tent. I was dripping in sweat as I had on my helmet and soft shell too. We drank a ton, said goodbye to JJ who stayed there, and started to descend the snow field. The day was incredible! Perfect blue sky, no wind.
So, the snow field. I think I hate John Muir and his f'ing snow field. It was warm and slushy, so every step became a slide and a fall with a 50 pound pack on. I fell at least 15 times, no joke. I was one of the last to the group but we met up and continued down. On the way down, Stuart saw the person who had set the speed record on Everest (10.5 hours from base camp to summit and back) who is going for the Rainier record this week. We were too tired to talk to him and just stayed where we were. Ultimately, after lots of slush, sliding and bitching, we made it to Pebble Creek (7200 feet) for our last break. Thats when the fun started. My big toes started to kill as they kept jamming into the front of the boots. From Pebble Creek down is all stairs and steep downhills to the parking lot. I felt my legs just stop. I was the last one down by a lot, but I did get down! Meaghan was a big help and walked down with me for a bit. When I got to the parking lot, it took me 5 minutes to take off my wool socks, no joke.
We took the van to longmire to check out, used the bathrooms and drank a ton of water. My butt was soaking from the falls on the snowfield, soft shell pants are NOT waterproof!
Big discussion over Whittakers vs Copper Kettle for lunch and Stuart won out and we went to Copper Kettle. Burgers and Beers were awesome, and a lot of discussion around vulcanologists, where people would climb next, and Meaghan's veggie burger with bacon and coffee and a beer. Keith had an old fashioned BlackBerry milkshake, whatever that is. We went to Whittaker to return some rental stuff and saw Ed Viestures there, pretty cool. We drove back to Seattle (which felt like it took forever) and de-issued our gear. I went with Mark to the Westin, checked in, cleaned up and had a drink with him. I ordered a pizza, ate it in bed, and passed out.