This is part I of III parts describing my recent Mt. Rainier summit climb, my first up this mountain and the first of any mountain like it for me, though I’ve done Kilimanjaro and other alpine ascents. Part I talks about mountain conditions and will be most interesting for anyone curious about the condition of the mountain at the time of our ascent. The second part will talk about how we prepared and the Juniper Fund. Finally, my personal recount of all things related to preparing for this climb and the climb itself, including some humorous post-climb situations.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the climb.
Part I: Mountain Conditions
After a stormy week with fresh snow and high winds on the upper mountain, conditions became avalanche prone and kept parties from attempting a summit until RMI teams successfully went up on June 17 (https://www.rmiguides.com/blog/expedition/sc_061721/desc). A steady stream of ascents followed that made the summit push for us easier because the path was well established with about 15 pickets up high (of which we used only 1 because the snow was that good) and a handline above High Crack. Due to the increasingly warm conditions, the mountain quickly opened up with several crevasses being monitored for passability. Freezing level dropped from 17,000 ft to 15,500 ft the night of our summit bid and temperatures remained above freezing though the wind picked up out of the SW at about a constant 20mph. All-in-all we had perfect snow conditions on the way up, no ice, no ladders, no planks, no open and worrisome crevasses, and no one in our party suffered too badly from altitude sickness meaning 100% of the team summitted. These most excellent conditions created a very direct, yet, steep approach to the summit.
As of July 1, the route looks a lot different.
From Paradise to Camp Muir I was surprised at how quickly the snow was melting and how much of the meadow path was starting to appear. Around Panorama Point through Pebble Creek there was very little to no snow. From the parking to Panorama Point and from Pebble Creek to Muir, we travelled on compact snow. There was no post holing as in the 3 weeks prior when I did my training hike to Muir. In fact, just 3 weeks prior there was no path visible, just very soft, wet snow that postholed and didn’t allow for glissading on the way down.