14 September 2008

Camp Muir, Mt. Rainier

On August 24, 2008, I, Kristina Ciari, made it all the way to Camp Muir at 10,000 feet without dying. I'm going to call that an accomplishment!!! Ryan and I had been talking about heading up to Rainier for some time and we completely lucked out with the best weather you could ask for!
We got up bright and early and arrived in Paradise about 9am. Paradise serves as the starting point for most of the summit attempts on Rainier, and sits at about 5400 feet above sea level. The first part of the hike has a LOT of stairs. In this picture, you can see the stairs on the lower right hand side of the first picture. As you can imagine, the scenery was really pretty, and we had great views of Washington's and Oregon's great mountains. Pictured here is Mt. Adams. Almost to Panorama Point just before you get to Pebble Creek. This is 2.3 miles up. After Pebble Creek you get to the Muir Snowfield. The next 2.2 miles involve an ascent of 2800 ft. up the snowfield - sounds simple. In practice, not so much. Here I am at the beginning.
Looking UP! Miserable much? The air is just so THIN!! Distances are also tricky when you're on the snow. For example, those people closest behind me are probably 5-10 minutes back.
Stopping for some food! What a pretty day! There we a lot of people hiking with us! Check out all the ants on the right hand side. Alas! You can see Camp Muir in the very center! Probalby a little under an hour away. Here's me struggling along with Mt. Adams in the background. Did I mention that the snowfield was steep? Finally! Just over 5 hours later! We made it! Smile for the camera :) I was in desperate need of a nap! No for some scenic shots. Here are the tents of people who will be summiting the next day. Generally Rainier needs two days to be climbed if you have a good weather window. On day 1 you climb to Muir, camp overnight, and leave around midnight to be on the summit by 8am. After summiting you'll head down, pack up camp, and continue to the bottom of the mountain. We saw a number of summiters on our way up. Mt. Saint Helens from Muir (below). Mt. Adams from Muir. It was windy and cold at Muir. Good thing we have so many GREEN jackets to keep me warm! We suited up in our sexy "glissading" outfits. Time for some sliding on your butt! Here we are the way down, check out that Lenticular Cloud! Rainier is so tall that is creates it's own weather! We're lucky that this day nothing came of this unusual weather pattern. Nice Hair! NOw it's time for some Glissading, the fancy term for sliding down the mountain on your butt. Here's a picture. And for the real experience, here's video of Ryan sliding down.

Here I am sliding down. For the record, this is not the correct way to do an "arrest".
It got warmer as we descended. Here, at the bottom of the snowfield, you can see the ruts carved into the snow from all of the glissaders. The flowers were very pretty, although apparently we were just a bit early to see the real wildflower action.
And we're done! Tired and sweaty, but happy and acoomplished.