Friday, August 9, 2019
12:48 Manuel Stähelin, newly arrived from Switzerland, posts on the Message Board that he is looking for mountaineering partners.
21:26 I reply and suggest the destinations Wedge, Sky Pilot and Rainier.
22:05 I go to bed.
22:16 Manuel calls me. We chat a bit about our experience and potential objectives. Eventually, we make a tentative plan to climb Rainier via the challenging Emmons-Winthrop route. We’d like to have another person on the team.
Saturday, August 10, 2019
Throughout the day Manuel and I ask a few people if they would like to join, without much success.
10:39 Manuel calls me to talk through a few details. We still don’t have a third team member.
12:43 I post in the Washington Alpine Climbers and Skimo Facebook group that we’re looking for partners.
13:17 Someone replies: “I heard the mountain fell down”.
15:56 Tyler Brilinski from Seattle messages me. He’s keen to join. We start talking details. It sounds like he’ll be a good addition to our team. Although he’s only moved to Seattle from Arizona like two years ago, he has climbed Mount Rainier multiple times.
16:01 I see the comment about the mountain falling down and figure out that the person was referring to a debris flow at South Tahoma glacier, far away from our route.
16:26 The three of us start a group chat. Yey, we have a plan now! We talk about lots of details. We figure that the best way to go about this adventure is to have two chill days gaining some elevation, first to Glacier Basin camp (1810 m), and then to Camp Schurmann (2891 m), followed by a strenuous and long summit day on which we’d return to the cities.
20:43 Manuel and I have our last check-in phone call. Manuel will pick me up at 7 am the next morning.
23:00 With most of my stuff packed, I go to bed.
Sunday, August 11, 2019
06:00 I get up and finish packing.
07:00 Manuel picks me up.
07:53 We reach the US border. Google has told us to take the Truck Route instead of the Peace Arch, so we had done that. The line was shorts and the guards had few questions.
08:30 We stop at Trader Joe’s to stock up on food.
11:00 We pulled up in front of Tyler’s house in Southern Seattle and loaded our stuff in his car.
11:30 We filled up gas and got lunch at Denny’s which took its sweet time.
12:45 We’re finally back on the road.
14:00 We arrive at White River Ranger station where we pick up our permits and poo bags. We chat with the rangers about conditions. They take an inventory of the gear we are bringing.
15:20 We start hiking the Glacier Basin trail. Soon we see our first stellar views of the mountain.
16:45 We set up our tents at Glacier Basin Camp (1810 m). We meet an American father and son who love to chat about politics. We make our dinners and chat.
Monday, August 12, 2019
06:00 Tyler wakes up.
07:00 My alarm goes off too early.
07:30 Manuel gets up.
08:10 I finally get up. We have breakfast, including fried eggs.
09:30 We start hiking towards the Inter Glacier.
10:30 We are at the bottom of the Inter Glacier. Masses of water shoot out of the glacier creek. We fill up water, put on our crampons, and rope up.
11:00 We start gaining the Inter Glacier. It’s mostly deep, soft sun cups, with occasional areas of aerated ice.
11:55 We reach Camp Curtis (2650) and take a lunch break
12:20 We take in a few loops of rope to bring us closer together and descend on rocks towards the Emmons Glacier.
12:40 After getting belayed down the last rock section just above the glacier, I am the first to set foot on the Emmons Glacier. The others follow.
13:35 We reach camp Schurmann (2891), take off our gear, prepare the campsites and set up our tents.
15:30 Time to tan. I put my sleeping pad in the snow, take off my shirt to tan, lie down, and take just over an hour reading The Golden Spruce.
17:15 Manuel and I start making our dinners. Tyler is just finishing his.
18:45 Tyler goes to bed.
19:10 Time for the ranger briefing. Too bad for Tyler. He has to get back up. The ranger tells us that stuff is getting soft, and that we should watch out for failing snow bridges, especially on the way down. He says that we if we pay good attention to route finding, we’ll find a way to the summit.
19:40 Manuel and I go to sleep.
22:00 Mice are trying to eat Manuel’s breakfast.
23:00 A mouse tries to get into Tyler’s tent. Tyler punches it in the face.
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
02:20 Our alarms go off and we get up. We have breakfast. We put on our gear and rope up.
03:23 We start ascending the Emmons Glacier.
05:55 The sun rises. We have just passed the Alpine Meadows and are at 3730 m.
07:24 We reach the Liberty-Rainier Col at 4130 m.
08:40 We stand on the summit. Yey! It’s my highest mountain so far. Unfortunately, the summit is shrouded in a cloud, so there’s not much to see there. After a couple minutes we descend again.
Some of the snow bridges that looked sketchy on the way up look even gnarlier now. We cross them anyways. They all hold.
12:30 We are back at Camp Curtis and take a long break to pack up, load up on water, eat, and rest.
14:00 We scramble over the Steamboat Prow to get back on the Inter Glacier.
14:35 We rope up one last time to descend the Inter Glacier. Unfortunately it’s too late in the season to glissade anything. We have to be on the look out for crevasses.
15:18 We are off the glacier. From here on it is just a hike out.
16:13 We take a short break at Glacier Basin Camp.
17:24 We are back at the parking lot. It was a sweet adventure.
17:47 We start driving, making a short stop at the ranger station to drop off our permit.
19:30 We stop a KFC in Renton to have dinner together.
20:20 We drop off Tyler and switch cars.
22:40 We cross the border. There is no line. Amazing.
23:50 Manuel drops me off.
24:20 I fall asleep