We just made it on time. Arrived at 1.30 in Ashford. That gave us 1.5h for a desperately needed shower after 10 days, a laundry run, pick up of our rental gear and some quick food before the briefing started. We were only three minutes late. 💪 Rental gear? Of course we are not prepared for anything up there with our tiny little ultra light packs for hiking. So we had to get boots, crampons, gaiters, helmets, gloves, harnesses, thick down jackets, avalanche transceivers and so on.

What brings us here? As if the day in day out walking on the PCT wasn’t already enough we had signed up for a summit attempt on Mt. Rainier. Why? Well, we have seen and walked around the mountain for many days now and we just couldn’t resist. Kaylee had never climbed a mountain and I am fascinated by them anyways. We had talked about it earlier already but ditched the plan for various reasons. But standing in front of it changed the plan again. And now we are here! Lucky as …! We managed to get two more spots in an RMI trip which also solved the problem with the permits you need. Ready to Rock’n’Roll 😎

And then the briefing with Tyler started. He gave us a quick introduction of what we had to expect during the next days. A gear check later we were released for the day.
We got some funny looks during the breakfast the next morning when I ordered a bagel with cream cheese, two waffles with whipped cream and straw- and blackberries, Greek yogurt with blueberries, milk, orange juice and coffee. Well, for us it was still a “town day” which meant: eating!

We left for Paradise Valley – our playground for today. This day was dedicated to the mountaineering school. An introduction for the Padawans and a refresher for the Jedis in the group. A good session and great fun to slide around in the snow for the self-arrest training. We were also lucky of being in a fun, fit and excited group – or how Tyler called us: “gang”.

Training on the ice wall

And on the next day (of course after another gigantic breakfast) we left at 8.15am for the real journey. It was still pretty smokey and clouds on top. Not the best conditions to climb for views… Guess who we got greated by on our first days.

After about an hour of hiking up the paved sidewalks of the park we hit the snow field which would bring us up to our rest stop at Camp Muir. The pace was nice and easy. I guess Kaylee and I are also in the best shape of our life for this kind of hike – used to walking for 12-14h, carrying a more or less heavy pack and also still some altitude acclimation help a lot now!

 

Early afternoon we made it to Camp Muir. A few little shelters with bunk beds and toilets. This is where we would hang out and rest for the next few hours.

 

Getting ready for the hike – stretching.

As for most climbs in our latitude you go to bed early and rest until you start the hike in the middle of the night to get on the top for sunrise and back down before the snow gets to slushy and dangerous. So you try to sleep which usually doesn’t work since you are not tired, to excited or somebody always snorres in these huts as well… Wake up call at 12am and start of the hike one hour later. We all got ready and geared up with harnesses, crampons, headlamps and our pack for the night with snacks and a few more layers. And then the adventure began. A smooth traverse over a flat glacier, through Cathedral Gap onto the Ingraham Glacier, traversing below its massive ice fall and up Disappointment Cleaver on loose rocks back into the glacier which was just an endless sea of penitentes (spiky ice formations). The smoke had almost disappeared but clouds had pushed in a bit so the view was limited. Also the drill in the climbing teams was pretty strict and no time for breaks other than the three major ones on the way up. The weather forecast had a chance of rain and thunderstorms in the early afternoon so especially the guides wanted to get up and down as fast as they could. So no Fotos on the way up besides a few during the break. Mountain artwork 😉

 

Close to the top on the crater rim the ice disappeared and it flattened out a bit. Safe to take the camera out.

As you can see – you can’t see anything 😂 We were in the middle of ancloud which had formed on the peak. Not the nicest thing after working hard to get up here. But it is what it is. The wind was chilly on the rim so we dropped down in the crater to put a layer on, take a break and celebrate a bit. The obligatory peak photo (yes, this could have also been taken somewhere on sea level in a backyard 😂)

 

Our rope team: Flo, Jules the guide & Kaylee. Notice – the pink shorts are going everywhere 🤘🏼

It was so wet and cold in the cloud that my face-marmot got a bit of a frost bite…

At 7.15 we left the peak again after we had spent maybe 10 minutes up there. No reason to stay longer with 0 visibility. So down again on the same route. Only difference was that we could see a bit more now. Luckily the cloud only covered the top but a few hundred feet lower the visibility improved.

One of the trickier parts in the steep and crevassed section of the glacier. A fixed ladder had been installed to cross the crevasse safely.

Through the huge field of penitentes.

Beautiful penitentes

 

Down Disappointment Cleaver and back onto the Ingraham Glacier.

 

 

One of the more dangerous sections on the route – the ice fall. The glacier is pretty steep here and the ice is broken up pretty heavily leading to overhanging ice formations. The worst accident in Mt Rainiers climbing history had hapened right here when an ice avalance burried several climbers. The warmer it gets and the more the ice is moving the higher the risk of ice falling out of “place”. So something you want to leave behind you as quick as possible and look at it from a distance…

Our guiding dream team at our last break before we started the last section back to Camp Muir.

Hannah, Tyler & Jules

In day and sun light we could finally see the entire beauty of the glaciers and crevasses. So beautiful. Now with almost no snow left you the bare ice sticking out almost everywhere.


Back in the camp at 11am – 10h after we left in the middle of the night. We packed our stuff, ate and drank a bit and set off for the last 2.5 hours down over the snow field. Sliding, glissading down the hill is soooo much fun. And again we were proven wrong. Did Kaylee and I think that Sonora Pass was the last glissade of the PCT we had to learn better.

The further we did get down the better the weather turned. Blue sky above us, no more clouds or smoke. Apparently this is where we stood on top of a few hours ago 😳

Final photo of the climbing crew – happy and tired.

A few more steps down to the toad where we got picked up again. What a trip. I know I am repeating myself. But it is what it is. I love mountains and everything connected to them. Not that it was my most challenging climb so for nor that the weather was great on the top but just being on a mountain just feels good. Every time.

Kallie, one of our climbing partners coincidentally lives 10 minutes away from my friends Jeremy & Anna who we will spend the weekend with now in Seattle. So she gave us a lift and dropped us off. Time to celebrate 🍻