Mount Rainier / by Andrew Tat

"Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." If there is one phrase to quickly summarize everything about my first summit of Mount Rainier, it would be that. Ever since getting into the outdoors, I've had the idea of climbing Rainier in the back of my mind. In June of 2018, I found my opportunity.

Over Memorial Day Weekend, a few friends and I drove to Paradise to ski tour up to Camp Muir. However, before we even started our tour early Saturday morning, we lost two members of our group in the parking lot because of the zero visibility we had with the fog. As I was roaming around the parking lot looking for our lost members, I ran into my high school friend John who, as it turns out, was there for a training hike up to Camp Muir before a summit attempt in June. I hadn't seen John in probably six years, so I hit him up back in Seattle to catch up. Turns out, he had room in his climbing group in June. Because the weather was so good that weekend, the training group went for the summit, and many members didn't feel like going twice :O

With a spot on a climbing team confirmed, I asked for one last huge favor: if Emily, who has dreamed of climbing Rainier since childhood, could join as well. She could! With everything all set, it was time to prep.


A few weeks later, it was time. Emily and I made our way down to Paradise from Seattle Wednesday evening after Emily got off of work. After a team dinner, packing, and hanging out with another friend, it was bedtime at the cozy Paradise Inn. 

 
 

At 7am Thursday morning, the group met up at the trailhead, snapped a quick photo, and started our trek up to Camp Muir.

Four to five hours later, we made it to Muir.

We set up camp and had a few hours to take in the view above the clouds while we waited for the 5pm ranger weather and route information meeting.

 
 

Hearing favorable weather reports, we decided to summit that night via the Disappointment Cleaver route rather than waiting for Saturday morning. 6pm hit and we were off to bed. At 10:30pm, we woke up and started roping up for a midnight ascent.

We trudged through the night with nothing but our headlamps to light the way across Ingraham Flats and up the Disappointment Cleaver. Around 4am, just above the cleaver, we witnessed one of the most beautiful, calm yet charged sunrises I have ever seen.

Ben held down the end of the rope team, carrying the extra rope. Amy and company were right behind us as we lead all other rope teams up the mountain.

Mark was the trip leader and my rope leader, and he sent it up the mountain that morning at a fairly quick pace. At 66 years old, he was cruisin' up Rainier.

Finally, approximately 7 fairly cold hours later, we pushed through our altitude confusion and reached the crater rim and the summit of Mount Rainier!

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Making my way across the snowfield in the crater was very interesting. At 14,000', breathing is obviously harder. But, I was also feeling like my head was swimming around as I stumbled drunken-like across the snowfield. Being at altitude is wild. 

Not too long afterwards, Emily and John's rope team made it to the summit. After settling down and resting for a bit, Emily and I wandered off looking for the true summit at 14,411' (4392m).

From the summit, we were able to see Helens, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson to the south. We were also able to see Glacier Peak and Emily was able to see Baker on the north side. After about two hours of enjoying the 360° views from the summit, it was time to begin our descent back to camp. On our way down, a few skiers sent it, too.

Hours later, we finally arrived back at Camp Muir. After a quick break, Emily, John, Amy, and I packed up and headed down to Paradise where we finally and successfully concluded our summit of Rainier.