Sunday, August 30, 2015

Camp Muir day at Mt Rainier

A day of camp!  After sleeping and recovering from our aborted climb, we returned to go play on the mountain some more and do a little training.  Another excellent day of weather and we didn't want to waste it.

Hello, glorious mountain!

It was fun seeing the lower mountain in the daylight.  The Pebble Creek crossing, for starters:

Looking back down the Muir Snowfield, it was rather hazy (possibly related to distant wildfires, but we didn't know that at the time):

Climbing up rocks on the east side of the snowfield.  Of note is the distant horizon, where Mount Adams was sort of visible to us a couple times (but not really in this photo, I don't think):

Tracks in the snow and more views of the surrounding area:

One of the wands marking the way:

And another one in the snow, with plenty more tracks.  A lot of people make the trek up to Camp Muir to hang out, as no permit is needed up to that point.  We planned to journey onto the Cowlitz Glacier, so we picked up a permit (like a "day pass") for that.

We wore our shoes and smaller crampons for this venture but still carried all the glacier gear:

All day long there was a helicopter doing runs up to Camp Muir and back down.  We learned they are working on a new bathroom and the helicopter was delivering supplies and helping haul rocks from one location to another.  Loud, but neat to watch.

Welcome to Camp Muir in the daylight!  There were a few people resting up for their summit attempt that night.

One of the buildings at the camp:

Closer-up shot of the copter:

Solar hot water system, I believe this one was for melting snow and not for taking showers!

Checking out the Cowlitz Glacier in daylight:

A group gearing up to trek over to Ingraham Glacier to set up a research project:

And another shot of camp.  It was great to see everything (and everyone) during the day, got to meet a couple climbers and guides, along with one guy who hiked up to camp there overnight with no intention of continuing higher.  Neat place to see.

The trail across the Cowlitz over to Cathedral Rocks, including on the left one of the first crevasses we had stepped over a couple days previously (I don't believe I could actually fall into that one, just don't drop your keys):

On rope and starting out onto the glacier:

We went over to some larger crevasses to study them and get a feel for "cross country" (i.e. without following tracks) glacier travel.  I enjoyed spending time on the glacier, starting to understand how it works and what to expect.

Nice afternoon lighting:

Wow, these things are so cool, so crazy:

Not sure how this fin happened down in the crevasse:

Love the perspective on this shot:

We found a shallow crevasse that worked great for a bit of rescue training.  We were losing daylight so there was only time for one of us to try it.  I nominated John to be the guinea pig, of course.  We set up an anchor and he rappelled down a few feet to the bottom:

Notice how the rope is trenching into the top of the ice, a common thing you have to deal with and our first experience with it.  An ice ax under the rope is a good way to prevent this.  I also worked on getting the other end of the rope run from the anchor directly down to John as a backup option for climbing up (we have a long rope for just 2 people and plenty of extra length).

John switching from a rappel to a climb back up using prussics plus a chest harness.  Not your normal adventure race ascending gear!

Somewhere on the way back up he managed to bump his forehead on the ice (probably with the glasses still on his head), although he didn't realize it until he topped out and I asked about the spot of blood on his head.  Such a typical look for John - laughing while slightly bloody!  The guide at Camp Muir saw him and asked if he should be worried?  Naw, just a flesh wound.

After getting back to camp and de-gearing, we ran fast down the snowfield chasing daylight.  John attempted trash compactor bag sledding but it didn't work too well on the bumpy surface:

Beautiful brook near the lower trails:

And one last shot of the mountain - thank you Mount Rainier for a fun afternoon!

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