Saturday, August 16, 2008

Day 1 - Up to Camp Muir - 8/9/08

I met Mark in the lobby of the Sheraton Seattle at 5;20 to cab over to Alpine Ascents. We met up with the rest of the group, loaded our gear into the back of the van, and headed up to Ashford, WA, kind of the gateway for Mt. Rainier National Park. We stopped for breakfast and coffee at the Whittaker Bunkhouse, a place where climbers stay started by the Whittakers, famous climbers. We had breakfast there and bonded with the group some more. I hung out with Keith (who decided that week to go climb something -- if only i was in that kind of shape!), Jay and Mark. We made sure to use the toilet as we had no idea what was waiting for us later in the day. After bathroom, last minute gear rentals, and breakfast, we headed up to the Paradise Lodge to gear up and start moving. It was pretty crowded in the lodge with climbers getting ready and tourists incredulous that climbers were getting ready! We spoke to some nice people, filled water bottles, put on boots, gators, etc and got ready. Of course, one of my trekking poles broke but luckily AA (Alpine Ascents) found me a spare.

We started our hike. I soon realized, this was ALL going to be uphill, until the summit! The hike and park are gorgeous. Wild flowers, snow fields, green meadows, glaciers, waterfalls and views of Rainier everywhere. On the way up, John the guide and I discussed the merits of Team America vs. Anchorman.

About an hour in we took our first break. We ate, drank, and learned some basic footwork tips. The break ended and we hit the Muir snowfield. Overall, the hike to Camp Muir was about 5 hours, 5,000 vertical feet and extremely monotonous. All of us had altimeter watches (all about the gear). You couldn't see anything as we were in a white out condition. The hike was literally one step after the next up the snow field. The only thing that kept us going was a peaking Rainier through the clouds once in a while and a desire for the snow field white out piece to end.

At Muir (10,000 feet), we got to stay in a hut share by RMI and AA/IMG. The weather turned while we were there. It was highly windy and even snowing for a while. When it was clear out, it was incredible. Most of the time was in the hut. We ate in it and slept in it. I slept on the second level platform between Mark and John. We ate well, chicken quesadillas, hot drinks, and some moldy brownies. Stuart joined us (another guide) and gave us tips, and outlined the following two days for us. I used the outhouse which almost made me barf. Got into my bag, got ready to sleep, joked around with Mark and Keith and of course, then had to go pee. Oh the inhumanity!

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6 Minutes of Video of the Mt Washington Climb 2-11-07

This is long but will give you a feeling for the climb on Sunday.