Friday, July 18, 2008

The wind still blows at 13,704

Man it sure feels like a long time since my last post. I have some catching up to do! First off, last week I hiked Mt. Rainier with my best friends; Alex Hacker, Dan Hacker and Alex Powell. The first night we camped just below Camp Muir. That night the stars were absolutely amazing! I've never seen the sky so clear and bright, it was stunning! The skies were clear and no wind. It appeared as though we nailed the perfect conditions to climb the mountain.

We woke in the morning and noticed a hiker a 6:30am passing our camp, early bird for sure. A few hours later after breakfast and packing we reached Muir and rested. I was following the trail with my eyes from Muir to the rock ridge that we would climb next. I noticed a hiker coming down quite fast. He was making a dust cloud! Either someone was hurt or he was in a hurry to use the bathroom. Within minutes he reached Muir. While he paused for a moment we realized it was the same hiker we saw in the morning. I decided to ask him if he reached the summit...even though we just saw him less than 3 hours earlier. "Yeah I made it to the top," he responded. His name is Justin. He was attempting to break the world record summit time for Rainier from Paradise to summit and back. When we came back through Muir the next day I learned he finished in 4:49 minutes! 10 minutes faster than the previous record. Although Justin's record is unofficial it still stands strong as he is well regarded in the hiking community. He is a guide on Rainier and clearly didn't break the record for the fame. It was personal.

We continued our second day to Ingraham Flats where we set up camp. It was a little windy while we set up, and continued during dinner. Bed time was 6pm and we decided to wake up at 1:30am. I passed out quickly. At some point I began to hear the wind blow on the tent. But I still slept. Then around 10pm it was so loud I literally laid in my sleeping bag unable to sleep. At 12:45 we got ready since no one was capable of sleeping. By the time we ate, put on gear, and roped up it was 2:30am. I looked up the mountain and marveled at the line of headlamps illuminating the trail. We would soon be in their tracks. At some undetermined time we reached the top of Disappointment Clever. We ate, drank, and rested. Then it was back to the trail. Around 5:40am the sun began to rise. At 7:30 we took another rest. This time we all came close to eachother. The wind made climbing difficult. It was easy to lose balance. After talking to climbers on their way down we decided to turn around 700 feet short of the 14,411 foot summit. I could have continued but the summit was another hour and a half away and I didn't want to risk safety climbing alone.
When we returned to our tent the group passed out (I stayed awake and melted snow for water). And yes our tent was practically destroyed from the wind...just look at the pictures below. We then made the long and arguably more difficult journey down the mountain. Both Hacker and Powell's feet were blistered and worn which made the decent painful.
Reaching the car was great! Thanks to Alex Powell for driving us home, I know you were exhausted! We drove to the first McDonald's. Our order: 6 Quater Pounders with Cheese, 1 McChicken, 1 Bacon Cheese Burger, plenty of fries and drinks. We ate!

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