RMI Guide, Miles Clark used the SPOT while guiding on Mount Rainier May 28-31st. Here's his trip report from the climb:
Paradise to Camp Muir
At 10am on May 30th a motley group of 9
clients and 3 guides gathered at Paradise (5,400 ft) in a cool misty cloud.
After a final gear check we looked up to see what the weather gods had to offer
us that day. A bit of wind and rain was nowhere near enough to hold any of us
back. The Memorial Day crowd had beaten in a nice trail up the Muir snowfield
and we started up it. The walking was good and a solid rhythm allowed day
dreaming about the summit day to come.
At our first break I dropped my
pack and cruised back down to Paradise with a client who wasn’t feeling well.
Upon getting that client comfortably set to head down in a RMI shuttle, I turned
and began back up the snowfield hoping to reconnect with my team before they
reached Camp Muir at 10,100 feet.
I put my head down in a west wind with
rain and put one foot in front of the other for about 3 hours before rejoining
the group 15 minutes before Camp Muir. Upon arrival all the clients were in
good spirits and happy to have made it to Camp Muir.
After some hot
drinks, water, dinner and a summit talk the climbers were ready for bed…..at
6pm. Always a little weird to bed down at such an early hour, but the workout
of coming up to Muir definitely makes it easier. Camp
Muir and Up
At approximately 2:15am the lead guides awoke our
climbers with hot water for drinks and breakfast and informed them on the
weather conditions. By 3:30am we were all in harnesses, crampons, helmets with
our packs on and ice axes in hand. The weather had gotten worse overnight.
Snow was being swirled by a stiff breeze and two foot snowdrifts graced Camp
Muir here and there. Our objective was to climb and analyze the mountain as we
went, taking it one stretch at a time.
We fell into pace through
powder snow across the Cowlitz glacier, up Cathedral Gap and into Ingraham Flats
(11,000 ft), our first rest break. The wind picked up a touch and the snow
continued to come down at a moderate rate.
From Ingraham Flats we
pushed up through the many switchbacks of the Ingraham headwall to our next
break at 12,500 ft. The weather was worsening now with low visibility, stronger
winds and more blowing snow. Continuing onto the upper mountain would have put
us in a position of much higher risk.
It was here that our lead guides
informed us that we were at our high point for the day. Everyone understood the
situation and most were pretty stoked to have made it as far up as we had in
Hiking back down to Camp Muir was a little funky in the
new snow, but definitely easy on the knees because of that soft new
Camp Muir to Paradise
hour at Camp Muir we were ready to descend back to Paradise, where we had
started our journey only 24 hours earlier. The time was 9:30am when we left
Muir. The weather was stronger now with very low visibility and a strong west
wind that drove snow against us. The upper snowfield was easy going on fun
fresh snow. The lower snowfield was a little sloppy as the snow had turned to
rain around 7,500 feet. Nevertheless, we were back at Paradise and loading into
the shuttles around 11am.
Boots off and shoes on is always a
Once back in Ashford most folks enjoyed burgers off the grill
and a cold beer. A few of us even hung around until about 5pm laughing and
telling stories. I think these type of trips in difficult weather are even more
rewarding than the perfect bluebird sky climbs. You really earn every step up
the mountain in challenging conditions and you feel pretty darn great about it
once you’re done.