Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Start of the season

Headed up to teach an 8-day course on Mt Rainier, one designed to cover skills required for going on a guided Denali climb.  As usual, the mountain decided to do a pretty good impression of Denali weather.  Fortunately, we were able to utilize the stone-hut public shelter to get dry and warm and do lectures.

On one of the first sunny weekends of the summer, tons of people were out at Mt Rainier, hiking around on the snow in various dress shoes, jeans, sunhats, and other inappropriate mountain gear.  So close to the trailhead you get all kinds, many of whom had never seen people like us hauling extra gear on sleds.  People-watching goes both ways, apparently.

Our first night was nice - great view from low camp, perfectly still winds, everyone excited to be on the mountain.  The next day, we decided to move to Camp Muir to avoid the incoming weather in the form of rain - getting high would make it snow, much less uncomfortable.

Ah, the incoming weather.  Four days of sideways snow (is this sounding familiar?), winds of 50 miles an hour or more, trying to make life pleasant in our limited sheltered space.  At the height of the storm, the last night, our climbers were shoveling around the clock trying to save the tents and themselves.  Well, that's how it can get on Denali...

The weather finally broke into two beautiful days, and we put all the rope travel and crevasse theory into practice by running through crevasse rescue techniques on the Kaulitz glacier.  Most people find going into an actual crevasse to be one of the highlights of the trip.  I mean, really, how often do you get to safely do that??

Best of all, we used our sleds to speed our descent on the last day - funny to watch a whole rodeo of mountain sledders heading down the slope!  Beats walking down any day...

Now headed up for two summit climbs before getting ready for Denali, and the weather is actually supposed to be decent for much of the time.  Here's to good climbing!

1 comment:

Balu in India said...

Those photos are too funny. Especially the first one; it is a classic!