Climbing Mt.Rainier (4400m)
(Cascade Mountains, Washington State/USA)
SUMMIT or BUST!
With the spectacular view of the vulcano from Seattle in our minds, Rick
and I were
heading for the second big goal in summer 97, Mt Rainier. We decided to
second most popular route to the summit, the Emmons-Winthrop route.
On the first day we climbed 1600 vertical meters from the campground,
where we parked the car, to the highcamp called Camp Shurman at 3000m
altitude. First the path leads you along the valley to the last
campground (called Glacier Basin Campground) and further up on the moraine
hit the Inter Glacier, which you follow up (beware of crevasses) to the
old original site of the highcamp, Camp Curtis. From there it is just 20
minutes down and across to reach Camp Shurman.
We had pretty strong wind up there (TACOMA the ancient god of the volcano
was challenging us), so fix your tent really carefully. In fact the wind
kicked our tent down from the rocky shoulder where it was set up, as we
After a windy night, we got up at around 3am, roped up, and began the
climb at 4am. The path is well described by the numerous tracks you
encounter. At 6am the sun rose in a spectacular burst of colors. The path
leads uphill along the 'corridor', a region not broken up by crevasses.
Further up we had to find our way across some big crevasses since some old
tracks were misleading and snowbridges no longer there. As we got close to
the crater rim the storm started again and clouds were rushing over the
summit (TACOMA?). But we made it anyway, and after an 8 hour climb we
stood (or rather sat, because of the strong winds) on Columbia Crest, the
highest point of the crater.
Mt.St.Helens and Mt.Adams were visible in the distance over the clouds. We
took the same
way down and within 4 hours we were back at Camp Shurman. The climb is not
at all technically difficult, but some parts of it were so steep that we
could not go the direct line, but had to zig-zag. As we reached the
parking area the next day we saw on one of the parked cars the writing:
SUMMIT OR BUST!
(Click on the thumbnails to get larger images.)
"Mt.Rainier from Seattle"
Like a cheap visual effect from a hollywood movie, the volcano hovers at
the horizon as if it is not connected to the earth.
"On the glacier moraine"
Climbing uphill on the moraine, heading for the Inter Glacier, which is
visible to the left.
Rising on the snow covered glacier torwards the 3000m 'Steamboat Prow'.
is not surrounded by mountains, the view becomes spectacularly wide.
The original place of highcamp, Camp Curtis. From here it is just a couple
minutes more to the new site.
The Emmons/Winthrop glacier and the ascend route as seen from highcamp.
The 'corridor' is that bank of ice just below the left skyline. Our tent,
the little green thing, was blown from this rock down to the glacier on
the left side!
Two hours into the climb: the first daylight baths the 'corridor' in some
kind of purple and pink light.
"Above the clouds"
High above the cloud layer and around the 4000m border, climbing starts to
get slower and there are more little rests inbetween.
With strong winds again, Tacoma was challenging us but we made it to the
top. After 8 hours we were at Columbia Crest the highest point of this
The next day we descended in a not so asthetic but very fast way on the