Friday, May 18, 2012

Rainier Trip Report and Pictures

On Monday, May 13, 2012, Seth and I started the 12 hour drive to Mt. Rainier to attempt two routes, the Ingraham Direct and Liberty Ridge.  Unfortunately, I wasn't in good enough shape to handle the Liberty Ridge with as much speed as we needed to climb it so we decided not to attempt it on this trip.  The Ingraham Direct route was blocked by a large crevasse, so the Disappointment Cleaver became our objective.

On Monday night, Seth and I met up with my wife, Kelsey, and my father-in-law, Mark.  Because of other responsibilities, they were not able to drive with us and flew instead.

Left to Right, Kelsey, Seth, and Mark.  We started hiking from the parking lot at about 9am on Tuesday morning.  The weather was already really warm and once we got on the snow, the heat seemed to intensify immensely.

It took us about 6 total hours to get up to Ingraham Flats, 5 hours of total hiking time.  I underestimated the climb up to Ingraham Flats and took too much extra gear and weight.  I probably could've dropped 15-20 pounds of unnecessary weight and made the hike significantly easier.  

On the Muir Snowfield heading up to Camp Muir.  It was super warm on the snowfield.  Kelsey and I didn't do a great job at staying on top of our hydration and nutrition and Kelsey cramped up pretty bad as she was getting close to Camp Muir.  It took Seth and Mark about 20 minutes to hike the last stretch that took Kelsey and I about 60 minutes to hike (because of Kelsey's leg cramp).

Taking a brief break at Camp Muir.  Left to right: Me, Seth, Kelsey.  Kelsey worked her cramp out at Muir and was able to hike the rest of the way to Ingraham Flats pretty quickly.  I, on the other hand, was feeling pretty horrendous heading up and over Cathedral Gap and got way behind the group.  I continued to feel awful throughout the night and didn't sleep much.  Luckily, I started feeling better the next morning and by the top of the Cleaver I was feeling myself again.

Arriving at Ingraham Flats.  IMG guided groups below our camp.

Kelsey hiding in our bathroom hole with her toilet paper and blue bag :)

Kelsey and I.


Little Tahoma from our camp at Ingraham Flats.

Mark hanging out at camp.  Mark was nervous that he wouldn't be in good enough shape for this climb, but he ended up doing really well.  He had no problem making it to the top.

Kelsey on the Disappointment Cleaver as the sun was coming up.

Kelsey and I moving up the DC ridge

Sunrise on Rainier.

Part of the Emmons Glacier, I think.  These crevasses are huge!  Last year when we were on Rainier, weather didn't allow us to get higher than Ingraham Flats.  This year really opened my eyes to how big this mountain really is.  In comparison, Rainier has about 3X the prominence that the biggest mountains in Ogden have.  It was an inspiring place.

Mark on the DC.

About half way up Disappointment Cleaver.  To get an idea of the scale, if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see two tiny people above me on the cleaver and a long chain of people on the snow just right of the rocks.

More sunrise pics

Above the Cleaver

Looking down at a group that is a few hundred yards above the cleaver

Kelsey fueling up on Poptarts

Seth at a rest stop.  This guy is an animal.  At the speed he hikes, he probably could've summited in two hours from Ingraham Flats.  At our speed, it took about four hours.

Getting closer

Kelsey and I on the summit with our backs to the wind.  The Wind was blowing so hard and the temps were cold enough that our noses would turn white pretty quickly if they weren't covered.

Mark on the summit.  He didn't realize until later that the GEAR:30 sticker was upside down.  Nothing photoshop can't fix, I guess.

Descending.  On the way down we had an interesting experience.  Seth decided not to rope up with us so he could move at a more comfortable pace.  He's been up with route three or four other times and felt confident he would be ok.  On the way up the route, we crossed over a crevasse on a snow bridge that was about five feet wide.  On the way back down, the snow bridge had collapsed.  Seth said the bridge was there when he crossed back over (about 10 minutes before we got there), but had collapsed sometime shortly after.  We ended up having to jump over the crevasse which was kind of exciting.

Big crevasses above Disappointment Cleaver.  I didn't get any other pictures of our descent, but it took a little less than two hours for us to get down to Ingraham Flats from the summit.  It took about an 1h 15min for Seth, and that was including him waiting for us a few times.  It took us about 2h 15min to get from Ingraham Flats to the Paradise parking lot.  It took seth about 1h 30min.  That was the theme of the trip.  Seth's comfortable pace was significantly faster than ours.

When we got back to the parking lot, the summit was covered in a big lenticular cloud.  When we were on the summit, wind gusts were probably around 70mph.  According to a climbing ranger, the winds were supposed to intensify on the summit and stay high for a couple days.

It was a very enjoyable trip, except for the sunburns.  I'm excited to get back there and do the Liberty Ridge, hopefully later this summer after I get a bit more training in.


  1. Why are you always packing too much?! Glad the trip was more successful than last year's.

  2. I asked myself the same thing. I guess I just don't get out often enough. Wish you could've come this year. Plan on Liberty later this summer.

  3. Could you elaborate on what you carried and needed versus what you carried and wished you had left behind?

    How did the Warmlite perform? I was wondering why in your original gearlist you were bringing 2 different tents?

  4. Sure thing. Because this will be a pretty long answer, I will make this its own separate post. Thanks for your questions and thanks for reading.