Monday, August 31, 2009

Rainier and more Rainier

Yes, it's the bread and butter of the summer season, especially now that it's late in the season, when most mountain climbers have moved on to rock or other objectives not dependent on glaciers to get where we're going.  But not here - we have trips scheduled through the end of September.

The problem is, well, the mountain is falling down.  We've had such amazingly good weather this summer that I actually haven't taken my goretex out of my pack for the last two months!  Very uncharacteristic weather for the Northwest, and it's telling - the glaciers are in the condition that they normally are at the end of September, not August. 

We saw a major rockfall go over the trail to high camp that we had been on only two hours before, and I've had not one but two rocks, one melon-sized, the other microwave-sized, cross our rope (ie: go between two climbers!) on their fall-path down the glacier.  Rockfall = not cool!  Just keep walking, and let's walk a little quicker through this area, please.

In addition, the route itself has gotten interesting as we've tried to maintain a safe path through the many crevasses that have now opened up on the route up the mountain.  
As of my last trip, there were two ladders (one consisting of two lashed together!) and a very narrow scoot-around with a line to clip into in case you fall.  Who needs the Himalaya - we've got it right here!

I'm not tired of the mountain, in fact it has been fun to see it change so much over the course of the season.  But I'm tired of only having three days to try to get to know people, be involved in their lives and goals, and then say goodbye again.  It's time for a break or an expedition, or both.

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