Pierce County High Point Trip Report

Mount Rainier

Date: July 20, 2003
Author: Dale Millsap

I summited Mount Rainier successfully for the second time on Sunday, July 20, at 5 AM. My party of four left Salt Lake City Friday at 2 pm. We drove straight through, stopping only briefly for gas and food, and arrived just outside the park around 1 am on Saturday. We pulled off on a logging road and threw down our sleeping bags for a quick night's sleep.

At 6:00 we arose, drove into Paradise, checked in with the ranger, and began climbing to Camp Muir at 9 am. We arrived at 12:30 pm, spent approximately two hours eating, getting water, and preparing. There were over 100 people (way overbooked!) at Camp Muir and 44 at Ingraham Flats. We slept until 10 pm, and we were the second rope team out of camp at 11 pm.

We overtook the other rope team before reaching Cathedral Gap. When we went through Ingraham Flats, there were a lot of head lamps of climbers getting ready, but we were the first beyond that point. There were several large crevasses to navigate before reaching Disappointment Cleaver. At the top of the cleaver there was one tent, but the party was still asleep. We continued above that point and onto upper Emmons, where multiple large crevasses have forced the route to change several times over the last while. The winds really picked up in the early morning, and forced us to move more cautiously on the upper slopes. We reached the crater rim at 4:30 am, and the winds were howling over the edge at least 60 mph, perhaps more. There was one tent in the center of the crater. The crater was calm by comparison, but as we ascended the other side, the winds were as bad or worse. We summited at 5 am, along with the two climbers camped in the crater.

We didn't stay long in those conditions, especially since a lenticular cloud was trying to form on top. We descended through an army of other climbers, reaching Muir at 8 am. We only stayed long enough to put our gear together, and we were down at Paradise by 10 am.

We again drove straight through, changing drivers often and allowing the two back-seat passengers to sleep, and arrived in Salt Lake City at 12:30 am Sunday night/Monday morning. I went to work at 7:30 am Monday.

It sounds like an incredible marathon, but I am surprised at how much fun it was and how my body dealt with it physically. It was just a great weekend. I was the only member of the four-man team that had summited Rainier before, although all of us had glacier travel experience and lots of hiking along the Wasatch front, which reaches up over 11,000 feet.