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Thread: Seizing the Moment in WA

  1. #1
    Senior Member blacklab2020's Avatar
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    Seizing the Moment in WA

    Had to cancel my permit into Alpine lakes wilderness and enchantments this passed weekend due to a long battle with Strep (an epic canoe trip).

    However, I went to Seattle on Business anyway.

    By Tuesday noon I was getting pretty anxious since I missed my chance to climb and switching my meds on Monday made me feel worlds better. My flight back was Wed at 1:30 pm. I had been to Seattle before and still hadn't seen Rainier from the town. I had to do something.

    A plot was in my mind to drive to the mountain and at least hike a trail to one of the glacier (I had 24 hours before I need to be at the airport). I Had no idea where to start on Rainier or even where to drive to. After talking with a few different park rangers I realized I could hike to Camp Muir 10,080 ft without glacier travel and a climbing permit. I was sold.

    Nevermind that I only brought suits and a shell jacket with me. Nevermind that I only had 4 hours to hike and 5-6 hours of driving time
    Nevermind that I didnt have a car or hiking gear.

    Well I was going for it. After my last meeting at 3 pm on Tuesday I went back to the hotel and started packing up everything to check out early. Then I called all the car rental places in town at multiple locations (probably at least 12) before I found one within walking distance that had a car.

    I got the car by 4, but had to meet colleagues for dinner at 6. I had no gear or boots... so off to REI HQ. After an hour there and well more than I would like to say on my CC later I was out the door to dinner.

    I left dinner at 10pm and made paradise by 12:30... Nevermind that it was raining and calling for rain the next day. Spent 3.5 more hours in the car trying to sleep. Got up at 4 am to clear skys and temps in the 30s. I geared up--new boots, new base layer, 10 essentials including emergency bivy compass headlamp... I left as muc in the packaging as possible since the idea was to return what i didn't need.

    At 4:50 am, standing atop a 20 ft wall of snow at the north end of the lot I found the skyline trail after some roaming about through pines and lots of snow. Thanks to the rangers for the bamboo wands on the way up. 2 hours later I was just shy of Anvil Rock about 1000 feet down from camp muir and couldn't go any higher. The mountain was capped with clouds 500 ft above me and lenticular clouds moving around the mountain... Camp muir was not visible whatsoever. Muir Snowfield is a big place at 6:45 am with impending clouds (which are supposed to turn to snow later that day) and no one in sight.

    Made it down to paradise by 8:15 after taking a bunch of cell phone pics, since I thought no need to bring my good camera to seattle when I'm sick! Was back at REI by 11am got about 70% of my cost back and was at the airport with plenty of time.

    A long process but being up on that mountain for 3.5 hrs was worth every bit. I got to see sunrise from the lower parts of the snowfiled and the alpenglow on Adams, Hood!, St. Helens, and the Tatoosh range... Pretty darn incredible. I am definitely going back soon for some climbs.

    Off to Baxter/Acadia next week =)
    Justin
    KC2QMU

    Did someone say Split Mtn, 5.9 IV 1600'???

  2. #2
    Senior Member cbcbd's Avatar
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    Good stuff, Justin!
    Its always worth it to get right up on the base of Rainier.
    Too bad our schedules didn't align, but let me know if you're in the area again... without strep
    Doug

  3. #3
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Sounds like you squeezed much into a short time.

    Am curious about your REI experience - how were you able to outfit yourself from top to bottom, including gear, and get most of your money back?

  4. #4
    Senior Member cbcbd's Avatar
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    Oh yeah... just another thing - next time you're in the park stop by a ranger station and pick up their handy sheet with the route to Muir mapped out with important bearings to get there and out - they like giving those out! Its not uncommon for folks to lose their way down from Muir and end up going toward the Nisqually (which is where the fall-line takes you) or going too far East and ending up on the Paradise glacier. The terrain in a white-out or fog-out is weird to navigate... I have friends who have been immortalized on an issue of Accidents in NA Mountaineering exactly from this - they spent an extra two nights on the Muir snowfield under a tarp waiting for the weather to clear so they could see the way down.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    Am curious about your REI experience - how were you able to outfit yourself from top to bottom, including gear, and get most of your money back?
    A very lenient return policy
    Doug

  5. #5
    Senior Member dom15931's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Rainier is amazing

    Nice to see that you made it out there! I can't wait to take on Rainier someday...hopefully fairly soon. It's great that you got a good ways up and fast. Thats a bummer about the strep though. It seems EVERYBODY including myself has had that in the past month. And it is stubborn. Mild but stubborn for me.


    I had my first opportunity to hike in the Cascades early last fall. We bought flight tickets last minute because the Maine forecast was in the crapper, which was or destination 48hrs prior to purchasing two tickets to Seattle for a week! Mt. Rainier was visible from Seattle on the ground and the landing part of the flight into Sea-Tac was amazing as we went right by the mountain. It is mind blowing to see a mountain like that from sea level. After hiking a in the Glacier Peak area (Mt. Pugh saddle) my girlfriend and I headed To Rainier NP. The weather was, again, great. Only thing bad was we both had chest colds, but the scenery quelled them enough. The temps were in the 60's even at 6000' and there were only fair weather clouds and it was October 1st. That day we hiked in the Tatoosh Range immediately south of Rainier We both went up to the Pinnacle Saddle. This is easily accessible from the road to Paradise and only about 1.5 miles each way. The views of Rainier are stunning from here. The fall colors just added to it. I ended up doing a quick run up Plumber Peak. Pinnacle Peak looked like a technical summit and the ranger station had told me it was but some local hikers I encountered on Plumber said it was doable with the great weather that time of year with no ropes. They pointed me the right way. It was incredibly steep and takes the mantle for me for exposure.

    I took a ton of pics. We had three cameras. Unfortunately mine was going and had some color issues. Luckily the other two took great pics.

    http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/567739326NWPmMM

    Can't wait to go back to that area! I can remember driving around the Olympic Penn. later that week in rainy weather condx wishing I had the time to climb there too. Rainforests in the rain almost seemed right.

    -Dom
    Last edited by dom15931; 06-26-2009 at 12:57 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member blacklab2020's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    Am curious about your REI experience - how were you able to outfit yourself from top to bottom, including gear, and get most of your money back?
    I kept the fleece hat, short gaiters, pants, base layer tops, base layer bottoms, fleece pullover, socks, compass, bottled water, and clif bars.

    I returned, boots that showed no wear (being on the snow the entire time) and were half a size too small. I also returned the headlamp, rainier map, backpack, energy food i didnt use, emergency bivy, knife, etc. in the original packaging without being opened or needed.


    Doug: Thanks for the tips on the bearings. I got that impression immediately from the parking lot when I saw how much snow there was right from the begining and no signs of trails other than footprints (that could easily be covered over quickly). One of my first thoughts, was I needed to be smart about navigation not being familiar with the mountain. I think I spent 15 minutes making sure I was headed up in the right direction to begin with. I frequently kept turning around to memorize what it looked like where I came from and how to get down. Getting up there with clouds coming in made me think about that a lot. I think I actually read that report in Accidents in North American Mountaineering. I think that aspect definiately added to the size of the mountain and the feeling of being very exposed up there.

    Dom: Good to hear from you. I am glad you got a chance to be out there. The tatoosh range was very alluring for me looking right at it. There are countless great mountaineering opportunities out there. I will have to go back soon (with my own gear this time =)
    Justin
    KC2QMU

    Did someone say Split Mtn, 5.9 IV 1600'???

  7. #7
    Senior Member cbcbd's Avatar
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    Yeah, now that I'm pretty familiar with the Paradise/Muir approach I like it much better in the winter time when its all covered in snow. But that ads some more route finding if you're not as familiar. When the snow melts, the trail (paved, gravel, rocks) goes all the way to ~7600' and then the Muir snowfield starts. The winter route that people usually take is slightly different and is just a big snowfield.
    The mountains here are big and I'm still getting used to their size - I'm still pretty weary of heading out alone to certain objectives. Its definitively exposed up there
    Doug

  8. #8
    Senior Member timmus's Avatar
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    I like this story, thanks for posting.

    I think whatever happens in that area is always better than anything in the city. OH- And yes, GPS is usefull coming down the snowfield, ask Sue J.

  9. #9
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Don't Return REI Food

    There is something to be said for not returning food to REI. Unlike all other undamaged returned products (except for climbing gear), they do not resell it, all food products get thrown away. So, why not save it for your next trip?

  10. #10
    Senior Member blacklab2020's Avatar
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    Good to know TEO, I wouldnt have done that had I known. Thanks!
    Justin
    KC2QMU

    Did someone say Split Mtn, 5.9 IV 1600'???

  11. #11
    Member Creaky Knees's Avatar
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    Another man's loss ......

    Bummer, however I am happy to report that I was lucky enough to be invited to do the Enchantments last weekend (with some WA natives) and we spent 4 days doing them (6/24-6/29). Even better, at the last minute, someone from our group canceled and I was able to swing down to Eugene, OR to pick up my son to go. It was our first time hiking in WA and it was phenomenal. We stayed at Colchuck the first night, in the Upper Enchantments the second night and at the last lake on the loop (name escapes me) on the way out. The weather was excellent with freezing temps at night and 50's-60's during the day. I'll post a trip report with pics later tonight. I'm already scheming on how to get back there, but please don't tell the wife.

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