Leaders: John Kottos (Leader), Paul Stinson (Co-Leader)
Participants: Peter Crane, Darcy Hobgood, Patrick Murphy, Zach Coburn, Rhonda Stacy-Coyle, Dan Lamore, Mark Layton, Heather Layton.
Saturday, July 11th:
Today we collected everyone at the Portland Airport as they flew in, we then drove to Packwood and checked in at the Packwood Hotel. We started preparing the packs and sorted out supplies and fuel. We all bought some groceries and few other last minute items.
Sunday, July 12th:
The weather was lousy, drizzling rain. We drove to Paradise (5,500Ft), where we registered with the Park Rangers and got our final permits. Our original permits had us stay all 4 nights at Camp Muir. We were fortunate to switch things around and get permission for a two night stay at Ingraham Flats. This was huge. Checked into the Paradise Hotel and finished packing. We had lots of fun inspecting everyone’s pack for functionality and for the secure fastening of gear on them. We had a wonderful dinner later on and we went to bed feeling good but anxious to go.
Monday, July 13th:
The weather continued to be lousy, just like on Sunday with temps in the low 60’s. Checked with the Rangers and were told it will actually get better at higher altitudes (8,000ft). We had breakfast and took off around 8:30AM with the objective of reaching Camp Muir. The average weight of the packs was somewhere around 65 lbs. We purposely kept a slow pace ensuring everyone’s comfort and conservation of energy for this long process. We continued our free climbing ascent on snow in drizzling conditions with very poor visibility. The weather cleared up rather nicely once we hit the 8,000ft mark and we could finally see Mt Rainier. Everyone was excited. We arrived at Camp Muir (10,000 ft) around 2:30PM. Selected spots for our 4 tents and went to work setting them up. Had dinner and enjoyed the scenery until bed time.
Tuesday, July 14th:
Today’s objective was to climb to Ingraham Flats (11,000 ft) for practice. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm. We formed the teams, got roped and took off at 8:00AM. Crossing Cathedral Rocks proved more of a challenge compared to crossing it in years past. Continuous erosion has accumulated tremendous amounts of Scree and it has carved out unstable steep slopes, which we had to overcome. Arrived at the Flats close to 10:00AM and devoted our time to mainly practicing crevasse rescue among other things. It was the perfect day to conduct such a fun exercise in this majestic, crevasse-loaded, glacial playground. The temps must have reached high 70’s and we had to re-apply sun screen repeatedly. We returned to Camp Muir at 4:30PM.
Wednesday, July 15th:
Today’s objective was to move all our gear to Ingraham Flats (11,000 ft). We had an early rise, had breakfast and started packing. We were ready to depart close to 8:30AM. This was another great day, carbon copy of yesterday. We got roped and moved on. Had another challenging crossing of the Cathedral Rocks with full packs this time and we reached the Flats close to 10:30AM. We spent time preparing and setting our camp-site. We had an early dinner and went to bed by 5:00PM. The plan was getting up tonight at 11:00 to start getting ready for the Ascent to the Summit. Unfortunately, it was also decided that one of the members needed to stay behind due to some leg & knee issues. We got up at 11:00PM as planned and started the preparations.
Thursday, July 16th:
We were on our way just about after 12:00AM. Team #1 consisted of 5 climbers and team #2 consisted of 4 climbers. The sky was clear full of stars with temps in the 20’s. We crossed a mostly bare and rocky Disappointment Cleaver and reached the glaciers above it by 2:00AM. We crossed paths with two other teams. After a short rest we traversed toward Emmons Glacier, which has now become the designated new route. We were soon climbing up slope and toward the Summit. The switchbacks seemed endless. Team #1 reached the Summit Crater close to 6:30AM with team #2 arriving 10-15 minutes later. The weather conditions on the crater were cold and windy. We dropped packs, ate something and we all moved to the real summit (14,411 ft), which was only 15 minutes away. Took some pictures and headed right back down. We took few long brakes on the way down enjoying the warmth of the Sun and the spectacular scenery. We got back at the Camp by 2:30. We celebrated our success at dinner that night.
Friday, July 17th:
We got up very early, started packing and were roped and our way down by 7:15AM. Once at Camp Muir we got un-roped, removed our crampons and started our descent to Paradise. We arrived at the parking lot around noon and it felt great to be wearing sandals again. We drove to Packwood for hot showers, beer and we later enjoyed our celebratory “real” dinner at the fanciest Restaurant (burger/pizza joint) in town. We went to bed by 9:00 that evening due to an early next morning departure to the airport and to our flights back home.