Mt Rainier Summit!

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This is the view across Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula from my base in Edmonds, Washington - thanks Maze and Loop! Camp 1 on the Kautz Route. Our route followed the moderately angled snow slope to the centre-left of the photo, before climbing steeply to our high camp, not far underneath the prominent ice cliffs. From there, we traversed directly under the ice cliffs and then climbed the steep Kautz ice chute and upwards to the summit! Climbing towards high camp, somewhere around 9,500feet We gained altitude quickly as the route steepened before high camp. Considering the jump in altitude from sea level by the Puget Sound to around 10,000feet in just 3 days, it was actually very hard work. Carrying a 25kg+ pack (60lbs) up steep snow and ice slopes is part of the challenge of climbing Rainier. This is at about 10,500feet - just before high camp.

Hi Everyone,
It's only been 3 days since I got off Mt Rainier after a successful climb up the Kautz Route and now I'm already back in Ashford getting ready to do it all over again on Liberty Ridge, the imposing route on the north face of the mountain.

My climb up the Kautz Route seems trivial after reading and hearing the updates of the recent climbs on Everest, but still, Mt Rainier is a big, serious mountain and she does not give up her summit easily. Or at least that was the case last week.

It takes 4 days to complete the Kautz Route, with summit day being the 3rd day. Our summit day was a tough one - other teams turned around on easier routes, and only two out of seven of our climbing party (excluding guides) made the summit. Temperatures were at about -20C on the summit, visibility was poor and the winds strong. I climbed with IMG and our lead guide, Justin Merle, who has been to the top of Rainier 96 times after this recent climb, said it was one of the most difficult climbs he has done.

I hope you enjoy the photos. Maybe they will also inspire you to make the trip out here for a climb on Rainier....

Tomorrow morning I join up with two other climbers and two guides (including Justin) for our six-day attempt on Liberty Ridge. Very few climbers summit Mt Rainier via Lib Ridge, due to the steepness of the route, the challenging approach through the crevassed Carbon Glacier and the ever volatile Rainier weather. Right now the forecast is saying unsettled weather throughout the week, but hopefully it will hold out enough for us to get up and down safely. If conditions don't allow for us to summit on day 4 of the expedition, we have two days up our sleeve so if need be we can sit it out at high camp and wait for the weather to improve. I am looking forward to climbing on the north side of the mountain and to the challenge of climbing over 6000feet on a technical, steep route. Should be a lot of fun.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings...

Gavin

View south from high camp on the afternoon of 4th June. The temperature really plummeted on the afternoon before we left for the summit. The freezing level was at just 5000feet (about 1500m!) and high camp was already at 10,800feet!

Unfortunately the freezing conditions and the poor visibility meant neither my fingers nor my camera battery wanted to take any photos during the summit climb. But finally on the summit, we stopped for a quick photo shoot!

There wasn't much to see when we made it to the summit. But after a quick break down in the crater of Mt Rainier, (where we also signed the summit register buried in a lead box in the snow) the visibility improved which made the descent a lot easier.

                                                                     

Messages

good luck!

all the best for your attempt on liberty ridge,hope the weather improves. stay safe. cheers.[ken.nz] p.s. great pics

Thanks ken

Cheers Ken...I'll let you know how it goes.

All the best
Gavin

Mt. Rainier

Hi Gavin,
I was glad to see a bit about this climb, we are considering a climbing school there and an attempt to summit on a four day guided climb. We are training and hope to someday try it there, so thanks for all the photos and descriptions!
Ann and Graham

Climbing Rainier

Hi Ann and Graham,
As you must know Mt Rainier is a great training ground for the mountaineer, whether highly experienced or not. After my recent climbs on Rainier, I would highly recommend to anyone to go there and give it a go!

I climbed with IMG for both the Kautz route and Liberty Ridge (which I reached the top of just yesterday and will be writing about here soon) and they did a superb job in every respect and would highly recommend one of their programs to you. The four day guided climb would be a good day - you'll get a day of training included and then a chance to go for the summit.

I'll write more about Rainier and the options available when I post some photos and tales about my recent adventure on Liberty Ridge.

Feel free to ask specific questions if they are not addressed,
Gavin

Congrats Gavin!

Well done!!! Mt. Rainier can be a tough mountain even on the easiest route, Disappointment Cleaver. Great job, Gavin! Good luck on Liberty Ridge. I hope to climb Mt. Rainier one day but I will do the Disappointment Cleaver route. Thanks for the TR and pix.

Regards,
MC

Liberty Ridge!!!

Hi MC,
You are right, Rainier can be a tough mountain even on the DC route. Many folks don't get to the top - sometimes because of the weather, many other times because they underestimated what climbing Rainier would involve.

I was fortunate enough to summit Liberty Ridge yesterday, which was an incredible challenge. It took us 5 days to get to the top...and then we descended down the Disappointment Cleaver route in 5 hours!

Again, I would highly recommend IMG to you. It is their first year with a permit to guide Rainier, but they have superb guides and first class infrastructure. And actually, many experienced RMI guides are now guiding for IMG. My two guides on Liberty Ridge were both Everest summiteers.

I'll be posting some photos soon...
Gavin

Congrats on Liberty Ridge!

Congratulations Gavin! Great accomplishment. How was the weather during your climb? Was it clear from the summit? If so, the views must have been amazing! I will look forward to your TR and pix. I leave for Kili the middle of next week. Here is a link to the forum of MyEverest.com with photos of my Mt. Whitney acclimatization hike last weekend (scroll down). What a beautiful mountain! The Sierras are so different in terrain than the Cascades.

The best,
MC

View from the summit...

Hi MC,
Even though the trip was only 5 days, it was five very intense days and it felt like I had been out there in it for weeks by the time we were down yesterday evening at 7pm. Part of the challenge of Liberty Ridge is the heavy pack - mine was weighed in at 65-67lbs, almost 30kgs. Climbing with this weight - personal gear, food, stoves, tent - on steep and technical terrain is part of the challenge of this route. And on summit day, there is no returning to a high camp, as after making it to the top it is usual to descend quickly down the standard Disappointment Cleaver route.

We had some awful weather during the climb, which I'll write about in a psot tomorrow. But ultimately on summit day, the weather was great, calm with clear blue skies, and the view from the summit was glorious.

You must be excited for Kili. Who are you climbing with? I would like to climb Mt Whitney one day...I'll check out your photos now. I hope you are feeling good about your preparation and ready for the climb.

Enjoy Africa!
Gavin

MC

Will you put your trip on MyEverest ? would be nice to follow it...Also why is there no link via your profile to send you a direct message ?
Cas

Cas, sent you an e-mail

Paul and I had discussed it right before he left for Everest. Being Fi and Paul just returned home, there would not be enough time to set up a site (I leave this week). I begin my climb of the Umbwe route on June 25th, hope to summit on June 30th and then follow with a 5 day safari. It will be a great adventure!!! I sent you an e-mail.

MC

Kili

Good luck for the Kili climb MC! Remember to drink lots of water (3-4 liters a day) right through the climb, as you know, this will help with the sudden jump in altitude experienced on Kili.

Best wishes
Gavin

Thanks, Gavin!

If I do one thing really well on a mountain, it's that I drink lots of water. I used a CamelBak for the first time on Whitney. I tend to take very small sips every 5 to 10 minutes up and down the mountain. I didn't get AMS on Whitney and I believe staying hydrated contributed.

Thanks for all your input, Gavin.

MC

well done gavin

congrats' on another successful summit!...whats next? ken.nz

Cheers Ken

Hi Ken,
Thanks for the message. Liberty Ridge was a very satisfying climb, and has given me more confidence for what is to follow. Right now, I am enjoying the sunset over Puget Sound from my base in Edmonds, north of Seattle. This feels perfect right now. The stillness and tranquility here is in stark contrast to what I was experiencing just a day or two ago on Rainier.

Later in the year I will be climbing Ama Dablam via the normal SW ridge... although there is a chance that the timing may not work in which case I would consider a trip to Aconcagua and the Polish Glacier route in January. Another trip to NZ is also appealing.

Hope you're well,
Gavin

mt.Rainier

Gavin, I recently decided to make my first mountain experience at Rainiier, next June. I 'm 99% sure it will be the IMG 4 day course and summit attempt. Good Luck on your next Rainier climb. It's nice to read about the mountain where my mountaineering journey will begin. I'm sure I'll have many questions as my trip gets closer. Have a Great Day Chris

IMG 4-day course

Hi Chris,
Good to hear from you and great to hear that you'll be taking to the mountains soon! Mt Rainier is a great choice to begin this journey. Rainier has many different routes and as the highest glaciated peak in the continental 48 States, it is certainly a great alpine training environment.

I'm having a few technical difficulties with uploading at the moment, so unfortunately it will be another week or two before I am able to post the story about my recent climb on Liberty Ridge, along with some great photos from the climb.

As I have already written, IMG did a great job. For a Rainier climb, I really don't think you will get any better. Is the 4-day trip you are referring to going up the Disappointment Cleaver route?

Feeel free to ask me either on this site, or to my personal email account, any questions you might have about my experiences on Rainier, or about your training and preparation for your time on the mountain.

Best wishes
Gavin

ama dablam ????

made any decision on where you'll be climbing next? regards[ken.nz]

Greetings From Adelaide

Hey Gav, nice to see your dreams are coming to fruition.
There are some truly inspiring pictures in that set, your story would make a fantastic book. Are you coming home over Christmas at all?
Everything is pretty normal back here - my Michelle is finishing her degree in about 6 weeks, so that should change life a bit - especially for her.
I'm just in the early stages of planning a trip to Sth America, I'd love to check out some of the old Inca ruins, ever been?

Rainier

Congrats on your 2007 success on Mount Rainier.

I too will be climbing Mount Rainier in July 2008 with IMG. I sure hope that I am blessed with the high quality guides that contributed to your success.

Cheers,
Chuck Norman
Orlando, Florida
thesnowshoeclub.com
charles_norman@hotmail.com

Chuck Norman

Hi! We are wishing you the best of luck on your climb in July of 2008! We know that you will make it to the top, and be safe! Love Dad & Janet