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Mt Rainier (14411 ft.)

Emmons Glacier Jul 10-12 '98

summit crater image

The Summit Crater, Mt. Adams in the background (PC: NF)

Party: Neil Fried, Dave Ryan, Greg Veintimilla, Tracy and I

Heading Out

We started out at white river camp ground, 4300 ft.

Party image

The crew: Neil, Greg, Dave and I... Tracy is behind the camera (PC: TS)

Nice cloud cover for cool hiking through glacier basin to camp curtis @8600ft.

moraine image

Hiking up the moraine through Glacier Basin (PC: NF)

Camp Curtis

After hauling ourselves up the Inter-Glacier we had a pretty relaxing time at camp curtis. The low clouds showered us with a little sprinkle of rain followed by clear skies and an awesome sunset.

Lower Emmons Glacier image

View over the lower Emmons glacier toward Little Tahoma (PC: NF)

Camp Curtis image

We watched the sunset while mists swirled around Rainier's summit (PC: GS)

Camp Curtis Sunset image

Dave silloetted in the sunset (PC: GS)

We spent a clear, starry, though a little windy, night.

Emmons Flats

On Saturday, we took a casual stroll past camp Sherman, stoping to drop off our blue bags, and then on to Emmons Flats @10000ft. After digging our camp platform, we enjoyed a nice day in the rising and falling clouds (gusty winds). We relaxed, drank, ate, and layed in the sun. In bed and asleep by 9pm.

camp image

Neil and I hanging out (PC: TS)

relax image

Tracy hanging out (PC: GS)

Emmons flat camp image

Rainnier and Liberty Cap from Emmons Flat camp (PC: TS)

The Climb

I woke around 11:30pm to the sounds of other people getting ready to go. It sounded like freezing rain hitting the tent but it must have been blowing snow/ice because the sky was clear with a few clouds. Dozed til 1am, headed out at 2:30am. The moon was out, so no headlamp was required.

Ascent image

Tracy and Neil ahead of me on our rope (PC: GS)

Glorious sunrise at ~5:30am. I would have liked to turn around and watch it, but had to keep moving. The color on the mountain ahead of me was enjoyable enough.

Sunrise image

The Sunrise on Ascent (PC: DR)

Chasm image

Yawning crevasse with Little Tahoma below (PC: GS)

The biggest problem was increasingly high winds as we climbed. The last 1000 ft to the summit we figured we were getting close to 100mph gusts. I got knocked of my feet a couple of times. It was a mixed blessing, the wind direction switched from pushing you up the hill to pushing you down the hill (or in our case just stopping you in your tracks while you braced yourself, actually a good excuse for a rest!).

Ascent image

Tracy crossing a stepped crevasse (PC: GS)

The Summit

We made it to the crater rim at ~9:30am, A little slower than I expected but ok. It was dangerous to cross over the rim due to the projectile ice chunks and incredible wind. My altimeter read 14410 ft, I was happy with that....Summit!!! I dont think anyone on the entire mountain signed the summit register. I still consider it a complete success.

Summit image

Tracy and I couched below the rim - avoiding the wind (PC: NF)

Summit image

The party (less Neil) on the bench that Dave cut (PC: NF)


We didn't spend more than 10 minutes sitting below the rim. I had a sip of dirt filled tea (yum!) then we descended to 13400 ft out of the wind and into the warm sun for a rest and some more food. Here we celebrated with a can of Rainier beer and made some cell-phone calls to friends and family.

Beer image

Celebrating in the warmth of the sun sans wind (PC: GV)

From here (13400ft) Dave skied the rest of the way back to Emmons flat. Neil and Greg shared a rope and Tracy and I the other for the descent.

Descent image

Greg on the descent - view of Emmons flat and camp Sherman below (PC: NF)

Everyone felt really good in terms of altitude sickness symptoms. I was pretty surprised at how well I felt considering past bad experiences to camp muir (10000ft)

Got back to Emmons flats around 1pm, took a light nap for a couple hours, packed camp and headed out at 4:30pm. Awesome sitting glissade down the lower half of the inter-glacier, a fast, swerving toboggan run. Back at the cars by 7:30 pm. Feasted at some restaurant and home by 11pm. The most dangerous and stressful part of the trip was driving home on dark, wet roads in rainy weather with contacts lenses that had been in my eyes for 3 days. Showered and in bed just after midnight. Slept like a rock. Up at 6:15am to drive Neil to the airport. a little tired today....

I think the 3 day method is THE way to go; two days would have made the trip quite unpleasant. I think two days is a guarantee for altitude sickness problems.

We will have to do it again to get to the summit register!

Tracy's Report

I guess Gord briefed you on our weekend with his trip report. It was definitely a butt kicker. It was nice to take 3 days. I was able to acclimatize and felt pretty good. The actual summit climb on Sunday was exhausting. After literally no sleep we got up at 1:00am and left by 2:30am. It takes a little more time to get ready when your freezing cold and its dark out. We climbed for literally 7 hrs straight with one break for about 5 minutes.(not counting my 100 or so rests). Thats all we could stop for because we began to freeze. It was definitely a new experience to climb at night with only your headlamp and the light from the moon. It was definietely a new experience altogether. When the sun came up over the clouds you thought you were ontop of the world. I was literally exhausted at about 12,000 ft and thought I wasnt going to make it. If I had the choice I may have turned back, but I felt that I didnt. Neil was on our rope team and I new he really wanted to summit and if I turned back he also had to turn back and I would have felt pretty bad. Thats mainly what kept me going along with my determination. From about 13,000 ft to 14,000ft + , Neil was practically pulling me up the mountain. I could take about 20 steps (and sometimes only 3 or 4) and would have to stop and rest. We could see the summit and it looked so close but yet it was soooo far. When I got close I started crying, mostly from exhaustion and also because I had done it. That didnt last long since it was even harder to breath when crying. Like Gord said , we only stayed up there for about 10 minutes. The wind was incredible, we had ice and snow flying at us. There was many times where I thought I was going to be blown off the mountain. That was also partly why it took us a little longer , when there were huge gusts of wind we had to stop and stick our ice axes into the snow and hang on until it let up. It only took us about 3 1/2-4 hours to get down , we were able to glissade about 1/2 of the decent so that helped. When we got back to our tent at about 10,000 ft I literally flopped into the tent and slept for about 2 hours. I had a bit of a head ache (because of dehydration) and my knees and neck were sore from carrying my pack. Today , just my knees are a bit sore and my lips got burnt so there nice and swollen and a bit uncomfortable. My body is still exhausted and I'm sure it will be a few days until I feel ready to climb my next mountain.

Last updated: May 25 1999
Copyright © 1998 Gordon Schryer.