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Success on Mount Rainier and Mount Hood!

While Moun­tain Mad­ness is not one of the main con­ces­sion­aires per­mit­ted to oper­ate year-round in Mt. Rainier Nation­al Park, we are for­tu­nate to offer one sum­mit climb dur­ing the each sum­mer sea­son. In addi­tion, our Win­ter CUA per­mit allows us to ski tour, teach avalanche cours­es, and train for expe­di­tions in the win­ter months (Nov to May). This year, we chose the Emmons Glac­i­er route of our usu­al choice over the Kautz Glac­i­er. In addi­tion to this suc­cess­ful trip, we were asked by a small group of great return clients to arranged a guid­ed climb of a hard­er snow and ice route on Oregon’s Mt. Hood. Team­ing up with Tim­ber­line Mtn. Guides, and using their per­mit, this trip saw our guides head­ing south to the south­ern-most vol­cano in the Cas­cade Range. Two great trips!

A rope team head­ing to Rainier’s sum­mit. Alas­dair Turn­er photo

Wildlife at Glac­i­er Basin Camp. Alas­dair Turn­er photo

Mount Rainier

I just got back from a climb of Mount Rainier with Moun­tain Mad­ness. It was a return group of folks that I climbed with in Bolivia last year. The Mt. Rainier climb starts with the dri­ve to Mt. Rainier Nation­al Park and then a short hike to the Glac­i­er Basin camp. We spend the night there and con­tin­ue up to Camp Sher­man the next day. Although some peo­ple choose to climb from the trail head all the way to Camp Sher­man the same day the break at Glac­i­er Basin makes for a much more enjoy­able hike and an over­all bet­ter experience.

Dan­ny learn­ing the details of the First Light tent. Alas­dair Turn­er photo

We got an ear­ly start the fol­low­ing morn­ing and head­ed up the Inter­glac­i­er to the ridge below Camp Sherman. 

Once at Camp Sher­man we had the option of climb­ing to the sum­mit the fol­low­ing morn­ing or tak­ing a rest day and head­ing to the sum­mit the next day. Giv­en the unsta­ble weath­er we decid­ed to take a rest day. 

Camp at 4 a.m. Alas­dair Turn­er photo

The next morn­ing was clear and cold. The weath­er fore­cast for most of the Puget Sound was for rain. We were above that rain, so we roped up and head­ed for the summit. 

Tra­vers­ing above a crevasse. Alas­dair Turn­er photo

It is always worth tak­ing the time to stop and fix blis­ters before they get worse.
Guide extra­or­di­naire Jaime doing some blis­ter main­te­nance. Alas­dair Turn­er photo

Dan­ny, Mar­gen and Nan­cy all went to the sum­mit with Jamie. Rick and I turned around and head­ed down.

Mar­gen and Nan­cy drink­ing tea after climb­ing Mt. Rainier. Alas­dair Turn­er photo

The fol­low­ing day we head­ed down, get­ting an ear­ly start know­ing that food, and beer were wait­ing for us back in town.”

- Alas­dair Turner

Mount Hood

We met the group at 8am at the scenic and his­toric Tim­ber­line lodge on the South side of Mt. Hood, home to North Amer­i­ca’s only year round ski resort. After a brief gear check we escaped the crazi­ness of ski camps on the south side of the moun­tain to the per­fect­ly clear skies and the long hike in. There was a lot less snow than in the North Cas­cades and it was a pleas­ant sur­prise to hike on dirt instead of snow for a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the hike. 

Mt. Hood. Ian Nichol­son photo

We start­ed at around 3,400 feet and walked up a large moraine above the Cloud Cap Inn and dropped onto the low­er Elliot Glac­i­er at around 6,500 feet. We ascend­ed the glac­i­er to anoth­er moraine sep­a­rat­ing the Elliot Glac­i­er from the Coe Glac­i­er around 7,800 feet. It was a long, hard day with an over‑4,000-foot gain, but it meant we would­n’t have to move camp again for the rest of our trip. 

Prac­tic­ing crevasse res­cue. Ian Nichol­son photo

We slept in the next morn­ing and had a nice large pan­cake break­fast. We reviewed snow anchors, ice axe usage and var­i­ous crevasse res­cue tech­niques. On our third day, we con­duct­ed a steep snow climb­ing school, focus­ing on ice axe usage and foot work. The group hiked over to the west side of the Elliot Glac­i­er ice­fall to put our crevasse res­cue tech­niques into prac­tice! As a result, each per­son got the chance to be low­ered into a creavsse; a scary idea, but an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence nonethe­less! We fin­ished up with a new­er crevasse res­cue tech­nique, Team C, that allows the vic­tim to be extract­ed in less than five minutes. 

Beau­ti­ful alpine start. Ian Nichol­son photo

We went to bed ear­ly in prepa­ra­tion for a very ear­ly morn­ing. We were grate­ful for a trip full of per­fect weath­er con­di­tions, and were hap­py to see the con­di­tions hold­ing when we awoke on the morn­ing of July 4th. At 1 a.m. the stars and the Milky Way filled the sky with not a cloud in sight. We depart­ed camp, leav­ing our tents and stoves for a moun­tain guide load hauler” to pick up and meet us on the oth­er side, sav­ing us the pain of car­ry­ing the weight up and over.

Tra­vers­ing off the sum­mit. Ian Nichol­son photo

The sun hit us just as we got to the steep, 50-degree sec­tion of the climb that led us to a large maze of crevass­es to weave through. The crux of the route, a short 10-foot tall sec­tion of ver­ti­cal ice climb­ing, chal­lenged the team as they put their new skills to test. Five more pitch­es of 40 – 55 degree Neve and we reached the first flat sec­tion in 3 hours. As we ascend­ed the final exposed ridge, we encoun­tered par­ties ask­ing Did you real­ly come from that side?” as they looked down the incred­i­bly steep North Face — over 1,000 feet of expo­sure on both sides. Our group proud­ly answered yes, and we haven’t seen any­one in days!”

Close to the sum­mit! Ian Nichol­son photo

We hung out on the sum­mit for 45 min­utes, enjoy­ing the sun and watch­ing oth­er climbers enjoy­ing their 4th of July. The descent was quite a change from com­plete iso­la­tion to join­ing the mass crowd of climbers. How­ev­er, we appre­ci­at­ed the short­er descent and we were all hap­py to arrive in our new camp with our tents and stoves already set up!”

- Ian Nicholson

The group at the sum­mit! Ian Nichol­son photo