Before I get in to the details of my climb of Mt Rainier, I won’t keep you in suspense of how I did. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the summit. Words can’t even describe my disappointment at not succeeding a second time, however I did get to 12,300ft, the top of the Disappointment Cleaver and further than last time. It was literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done, no question. But I did get to witness one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen. And I also got to meet the legendary Dave Hahn. So overall, the entire experience was very worth it, and I am so grateful to have these memories.
When the day finally arrives, my parents graciously offer to drive us down to Ashford and pick us up on Sunday. I’m so glad that I won’t have to drive home after the climb. No matter what happens, I’ll be exhausted and it will be so nice to not have to worry about it.
We get an early start, thinking that it takes three hours to get to Ashford. In reality, it only takes two. Two hours to get to Rainier? Why don’t I come here more often?? It’s such a beautiful place, I’ll definitely have to come back.
We arrive in Ashford around 1pm, plenty of time to check in and do a bit of exploring before we meet the rest of our group. Fortunately, our hotel is located in the same compound as the RMI basecamp. We don’t have to go far.
Side note – they have really good coffee and ice cream at the Bunkhouse. Normally I prefer milk and honey in my coffee, but during our stay I drink it black and it’s quite tasty! It’s also where we eat breakfast the two mornings we’re here.
Since we’re so early and Lori and I are starving, we have a late lunch with my parents at the Basecamp Grill. They serve all sorts of grill-type foods – pizza, burgers, sandwiches, etc. I get a jalapeno burger. Then my parents head off to Paradise for their own adventures while Lori and I settle in to our room.
At 3pm, we meet our team outside the Visitor Information Center. We’re given a registration packet with some postcards and stickers, as well as an RMI buff. Neat! We’re instructed to wait for our guide, Dave Hahn and the rest of the team. The name sounds familiar to me, but I don’t really put two and two together just yet. There’s another group here with us, the 5-day climb. They’ll be sharing the shuttle with us, as well as setting off for Camp Muir on Saturday at the same time as we do.
After guide introductions, our group heads inside the visitor center for a slide presentation of what to expect on the climb and an overview of the route we’ll be taking. We also introduce ourselves to Dave and give a brief background of climbing history. There are 9 of us in total, the max group size RMI allows. While watching the presentation, I look around the room and notice Everest summit banners for several RMI guids – Ed Viesturs, Melissa Arnot, Peter Whittaker and quite a few for Dave. 10th summit, 11th summit – incredible! I think it’s so great that they all still spend time guiding on Rainier, even after their major accomplishments. Also, apologies for no photos, I was busy making sure I didn’t miss anything important for the climb.
Once the presentation concludes, we go over the gear we’ll need for mountain school tomorrow before heading outside to explode our backpacks on the lawn. We go through everything we’ve brought and rented to make sure it’s the right gear and get a quick demonstration on how to use some of it.
Don’t we look like serious mountaineers?
The entire orientation takes about 3 hours; we’re done around 6pm. I’m still full from my late lunch, so we decide to walk around Ashford and see what we see. I’ll warn you, it’s tiny and there isn’t much here. But it’s charming all the same.
When we return, Lori heads back to the grill to hang out with our teammates while I stay in the room to rest. She comes back a little while later exclaiming, “We won the guide jackpot! Google Dave Hahn!” So I do and holy smokes! I knew I recognized his name, but wow. I’m officially jacked to get to climb with this guy. He’s literally a legend in the climbing world. I’ll try not to fan-girl too hard over the next few posts, but I make no promises.