Leader: Bill Duncanson, Co-Leader: Bill Scott.
Pre-tour planning & preparation
Plans were made for a tour to climb Mt. Rainier, possibility Mt. Hood. Planning consisted of date selections, agenda, airline & ground transportation, hotel accommodations, supply pickups, climbing and camping passes. Preparation consisted of intense training, Adirondack High Peaks Outing, Knot-Fest 2007 (Equipment Shakedown).
Friday, June 22 – Departure for Seattle, WA
Five of us departed for Seattle to allow time to pick up supplies (lighters, fuel, and gear) and buffer time in case of travel issues (missed flights, luggage, etc.). Arrival was Saturday 12:47 AM and the hotel was located near the airport.
Saturday, June 23 – Seattle tour, supplies, arrange gear
We toured downtown Seattle visiting OR, a couple of camping stores & REI to pick up 2 gallons of white gas and some lighters. We visited Pike Market and a few micro-brew establishments while waiting for two remaining team members to arrive as well as one late arriving checked baggage.
Sunday, June 24 – Mt. Rainier White River Wilderness Information Center, White River Campground (4400 ft), Glacier Basin (5960 Ft)
We split the group gear & packed up two vehicles and headed to White River Wilderness Information Center to secure our camping permits from our reservation along with registering our climbing permits. We proceeded to White River Campground, ate lunch and started off under cloudy skies and drizzle. We hiked up the 3.1 mile trail to Glacier Basin (which had extensive damage from the November 06 rainstorm, at 2 PM. The trail was much like most Adirondack trails, except for the detours from washed out hill sides diverted onto rocky streambed with woody debris to traverse – no worse than minor blow down. We met a ranger on the trail and arrived at Glacier Basin at 6 PM. We camped at Glacier Basin which has marked camping sites (partly snow covered) with silty glacier water & compost toilets nearby. It began to rain more and turn colder. We hung all our food because of bear warnings.
Monday, June 25 – Camp Schurman (9500 Ft)
It snowed overnight slowing our morning activities. We packed up and headed upward at 10 AM over snow covered rock and successively steeper snowfields, crossing the Inter Glacier (unroped) and toward Camp Curtis to avoid Steamboat Prow. All these crevasses on the Inter Glacier were completely snow covered except one with plenty of boot traffic. We all wore helmets as a precaution against rock fall from above. No one was roped up on this section, however it was obvious that roped traverse would be required in the near future. When we got over and around Steamboat Prow, we could see the massive Emmons Glacier and the firmer snow surface – a decision was made to put on ice crampons for the slight decent near a few crevasses and before the final push up left and hook right to avoid more crevasses before arriving at Camp Schurman about 6 PM. There were plenty of tents at Camp Schurman which is a ranger station (metal structure with rock protection) and out house (equipped with Purell hand sanitizer). We set up three tents (one 2-person & two 3-people) and proceeded to melt snow for water. We realized we needed time to make water for the climb and to acclimate to the elevation.
Tuesday, June 26 – Camp Schurman acclimation & climb preparation
We awoke to a near perfect day under sunny skies and light winds and began melting snow for water. We prepared the ropes and gear for our summit attempt. We observed several teams that were established earlier ascending high on the mountain, and later watched their decent. It would have been a great day to summit as we observed nearly 40 climbers including skiers made the summit and return. We made the decision to rest as much as possible and start our climb at 10 PM Tuesday evening.
We awoke about 9 PM, roped up and were off by 10:30 PM under mostly clear skies with some light breeze. Dave B led his team with Mike L and Yaro. Bill D followed with Mike O, HuiYeng and I.
Wednesday, June 27 – Summit attempt (14,200 Ft)
The views of Puget Sound off to the North West were spectacular. Our ascended slowly following a well defined boot path under partly starlit cloudy sky. We proceeded up thru a well defined corridor to about 11,200 feet where the route became steeper (30 to 40 degrees) crossing a few crevasses. Now the wind was really picking up and the upper mountain showed no protected places to stop and snack.
We finally did stop at about 12,500 feet to access our options. One of the climbers was quite exhausted and another was moving very slowly. I also noted that Dave B’s harness and his crampon straps were loose. The wind had picked up and was now gusting to about 30 MPH blasting us with ice particles. We all re-checked our gear. We polled everyone to see if anyone wanted to go down.
The decision was made to proceed upward with me leading. I picked up the pace and proceeded to a spot that appeared higher than Liberty Cap (14,112 Ft) estimating us at about 14,200 Ft. Footing and ice axe placement became problematic due to the wind blown icy surface that prevented penetration of ice crampons or ice axe beyond an inch in most places. At times the wind gusted above 40 MPH and we perceived we might get blown over.
It was obvious we were within 10 to 20 minutes to the top of the cone as it was in sight, however the risk of a slip at this elevation would have meant little chance of self arrest because of the lack of penetration and the fall would have been catastrophic. This was the third time I looked back at Mike O and realized this was not to be the day to reach the summit.
We turned the teams around and headed cautiously down at about 9 AM. We reached Camp Schurman at 2 PM and crashed for 3 hours.
Mike O & I awoke at 5 PM and realized we needed to access our supplies and plans. We knew we were down to 1 quart of fuel and needed to produce at least 3 cups of boiling water per person for 7 people. We got dinner finished and quit for the night.
Only two guided teams of 3 people each “summitted” (reached the cone) that day. Other guided teams were now at Camp Schurman for their attempt. That night the wind buffeted our tents even though we had built them with snow walls.
Thursday, June 28 – Departure from Camp Schurman
We awoke and notified everyone we had 1 liter of water each for the decent to Glacier Basin (where we could pump water if necessary) and would dispense with the boiling water for a cold breakfast to break camp early and depart before the possibility of worsening weather. We broke camp at 10 AM and proceeded down and over around Steamboat Prow near Camp Curtis and then proceeded to glissade down the Inter Glacier to within 30 minutes walk to Glacier Basin. We took a brief brake for refreshments and adjustments and proceeded down the remaining trail to White River Campground at 1 PM.
We took some time to dry out some gear in the parking lot under sun & drizzle mixed skies and packed up to depart. We stopped at the ranger station to check out and proceeded toward Yakima to find a hotel and recover.
Friday, June 29 – Mt. St. Helens & return to Seattle
We drove to Mt. St Helens and out to the Johnston Ridge Observatory under in and out rain drenching downpours. We got glimpses of the mountain (5 miles away) that is still pouring out lava extrusions (a small pickup truck load every 2 seconds).
We returned to Seattle for our last hotel near the airport before departure.
Saturday, June 30 – Seattle & departure
We returned to Seattle visiting Feather Friends, REI and a return to Pike Place Market for last souvenirs. We returned via a “red-eye” flight.
Sunday, July 1 – Returned home
Most of us arrived at our home airports around 10 AM in the morning.
Written by Bill Scott