Here's the Rainier story from Bronco, complete with follow-up.
"The single push of Saturday was interesting in more ways than I expected.
My 2 partners and me left my house around 8:00 pm Friday night left the Paradise Parking lot at 11:00 pm sharp. The night was perfect conditions for hiking in poly pro and a firm crust had formed by that time. The moon was bright enough for us to hike most of the time without headlamps. It was so bright; you could see Mt. Adams, St. Helens and the Tatoosh range peeking up through the cloud deck.
Made good time to Muir (3.5 hours), spent an hour eating, hydrating with recovery drink and a little coffee, stashing hiking poles and putting on every stitch of clothing except for shell pants, it was freakin' cold! Crampon and rope up rolled out of Muir at 3:30 am. Surprisingly, everybody left Muir before we arrived at 2:30. Conditions were still perfect, cold and clear by the time we reached the top of the Disappointment Cleaver at 6:00am. We were still moving quickly, and had caught up to an RMI group who suddenly turned around. We had passed 3 parties descending because of High wind, which we didn't notice because of fatigue or maybe the maelstrom we encountered 3 weeks ago toughened us up! Everything was going according to plan; we even were back on schedule to summit at 8:00 am. 2 hours and 2000 feet to go.
Then about 500' above the DC, I encountered Judd. Judd appeared to be about 55 or 60 years old. He was sitting by himself, just off the track all bundled up. I greeted him and then the wheels come off.
Judd: "my rope team decided to descend but, I want to summit and so I let them go down with out me. Would you mind if I join your rope team? The last time I climbed Rainer, I went up this route and I am a very strong climber." I think of all of the nice guys who have taken me climbing despite having doubts and decide it is my turn to spread some good karma.
Me: (taking notice of his well worn equipment and extremely laid back attitude)
"Only if you will lead up this last 2000’,” I tell him we have been climbing since 11:00 the night before and maintaining a steady pace was critical.
Judd: "great, lets go" (I hand him the extra coil I have been carrying, he ties in and off we go). "Oh, by the way, my style is slow and steady" he says. I am thinking great, that's our style too. I am planning our next break in an hour at 13,500 when Judd stops. We have only gone about 20 feet up the switchback so -
Me: "hey, what's up?"
Me: "what's wrong? Why are you stopping?"
Judd: "this is how I climb, I told you slow and steady. Your partners look like they could use the break anyway" (I look back to two very angry, anxious climbers)
Me: "lets go! Get a move on Judd!"
Judd: "OK" he turns and climbs another 30' or 40'and stops. He says "Sorry, I just sat too long back there and need to take a quick break” I look back to see partner #1 throw himself down in the middle of the path and go to sleep. This only took him about 2 seconds to achieve REM (deep sleep). Me and partner #2 exchange a concerned look.
Me: "hey, what the hell are you doing?"
Partner #1: "if Judd is stopping I will take a nap"
Me: "NO NO NO you can't stop and take a nap get your ass up we are going! JUDD get going!" Judd turns and we repeat the process 5 or 6 times. We have lost an hour and only made about 200'-300' gain. I am thinking, "maybe we could leave Judd here, he won't mind it is so obvious he is killing us and as long as we are moving, partner #1 seems fine. I can’t leave Judd here. It is too damn dangerous. I know, I will lead and we will stop no more until we summit.
Me: "JUDD STOP, we are trading places." I am starting to notice things like his old fashioned tweed gators, 10pt crampons with no front points and leather straps, very old looking leather boots etc.
Judd: "sorry if I am too slow, this is how I climb and you always have to climb as fast as the slowest climber on your team” He hands me his water bottle "I can't seem to get this open - can you try" i easily open it. I am thinking - how did this dude plan to get down the DC by himself? He has no rope; his harness consists of a rubber belt and a carabineer over his heavy coat. He can't even open his own water bottle, partner #1 is sleeping again and I am starting to have serious doubts about continuing. Partner # 3 (who is climbing very well) votes to go down because of partner #3 sleeping and possibly deciding not to get up.
Me: "I am taking the lead from Judd and we will keep moving now. If we keep moving, he won’t have a chance to lay down” I tie into the front and notice the temp is still well below freezing with moderate gusts blowing spindrift around under clear skies. Conditions were perfect, no crevasse to navigate around, everybody else had either ascended out of site or turned around. "CLIMBING!" we get another 30' and I feel a tug on the line.
Judd: "break time, just a quickie” I keep walking, forcing Judd to keep moving for another 20' until he remembers to use his ice axe to stop. "Ooh, I gotta take a beautiful picture" classic Judd. I am getting pissed now. Somehow, we repeat this process until about 10:15 am when we top out. Partner #2 flops down for a nap.
Judd: "yah, we are awesome" he is greeted with empty stares. He says " hey, we will just sit here an hour or so and let my tummy relax, it feels icky, could you open my water bottle?" I want to open a jar of whoop ass at this point. It only took us about 4 hours to climb the last 2000' and I am getting worried about descending before the freezing level rises.
Partner #1: sitting up all of a sudden and looking around "what? Where is my wife?"
Me: "eh, do you know what day of the week it is?"
Partner #1: "I was just talking to her, where did she go?" I realize the sleep deprivation must be really taking a toll on him.
Me: "WE GO DOWN, NOW!"
Judd: "well just give me a few more minutes to enjoy the view...” I am staring at him wondering if he realizes the danger he is in. It is not the same danger my partners and me are in, as he is very close to being tossed into the abyss.
Me: "rope up Judd, or you can wait for the next party” We all look around at the abandoned summit crater.
Judd: "ok" I am worried now about getting down fast for the delusional partner and because it has been warming up and with the fresh dump of snow last week there is some new slabs I have noticed.
Me: "No breaks until we hit the top of the cleaver"
Everybody: "OK" we go 100' and Judd stops. I realize if I continue to pull him, he will face plant and start sliding down the hill, I don't think he can arrest a fall if he cant open a water bottle and I don’t want to risk my partner’s lives. With all the stopping it takes us 1.5 hours to get down 2000' or so to the top of the cleaver. Both partners are descending well, no more naps. I think ok, now we just need to move down the cleaver, no problem. I am praying now because the snow is balling up and instead of whacking his crampons, Judd is using the pick of his Ice axe to scrape the snow out when he stops. I show him how well it works to just hit them with the ice axe but he ignores me. There is only about 3" of snow; just enough to slide out of control but not deep enough to arrest a fall. We take 2 painful hours to move down to the base of the cleaver. Judd is able to descend about 10' before resting. He doesn’t seem to care. I am watching the climbers at Ingraham Flats watch us. I wonder if they will get concerned enough to send a Climbing ranger up as we are moving soooo slow. In the middle of the traverse across the base of the cleaver, Judd stops.
Judd: "sorry just a quickie"
Me: "hey look were our other 2 climbers are" - they are directly under the slope that let loose and killed a guy about 2 years ago. "Keep moving we need to get them out of there before we stop” He sits down.
Judd: "my crampon is loose."
I notice another team coming down the cleaver above us and somebody in their team says to us: "Hey nice place to take a break! You should keep moving" Uh-huh.
We finally get going and for some reason as we get closer to Ingraham flats, Judd doesn’t need to break. I am wondering what the difference is, terrain the same, snow the same, temps are actually cooler as clouds have moved in. Then I notice 2 guys approaching us from Ingraham Flats.
Guys: "hi, are you ok?" (to me).
Me: "Yes, just being careful"
Guys: "You took a long time to come down"
Judd: "Ya we've been climbing since last night, my partners are bushed!" Big smile and burst of energy.
We keep going and get around the corner to Cathedral gap.
Judd: "Just a quickie, could I get a hand with this water bottle?"
Fast forward to Camp Muir 3:00 pm Judd is inviting us to go to Portland with him to play pool as we are furiously stuffing gear into our packs. He also asks us to look for his ORIGINAL partners who left Paradise with him and never showed up to Camp Muir. Apparently he successfully hitched a ride up to the top of the Cleaver with some other lucky group who dumped him there. That is cold, but I could see why they did it.
I was impressed with Judd's consistent cheerfulness despite being cussed out by my partners several times. In hindsight, I should have offered to either take him down (and bag the climb) right away or not taken him up as his presence corrupted my original team and speed is safety especially in a long single push climb. We made it back to Paradise by 4:00 pm so - 17 hours round trip (BTW good glissading on the Muir snow field). This is 5 hours longer than we planned for and had run out of water. We figured Judd took about 100 breaks we wouldn’t have taken and that easily accounts for the 5 extra hours.
I now understand why some guys insist on climbing something easy and not committing prior to taking a partner on a harder climb. I think it is a good policy.
What do you guys think I could have done about Judd who apparently feels no guilt about burdening someone with his shortcomings and bad decisions? He didn't want to be rescued, just baby sat or guided.
He did say, "thanks for letting me climb with you" but acted oblivious to the hardship he created on us.
Anybody have as similar experience? How do you deal with the offender?"
I guess I owe you an apology and a thank you. My partner and I climbed with Judd from Muir to the top of D.C. I realize that by admitting this I'm probably gonna get flamed. But I believe that I can shed some light on the early portion of Judd's story. So here goes.
My Partner and I left Seattle on Friday Morning at 6:00 am. We arrived at MRNP at 9:00 a.m. and somehow manage to get the last permit for Muir (somebody cancelled just as we walked in). We plugged away and got to Muir at about 2:30 p.m. and we snuggly tucked away in our bags by 6:00 p.m.
At about 8:00 p.m. where somebody talking to our neighbors about his partners who never made it up to Muir. He explained that his buddies had the tent a rope. My partner and I decided we could use a strong third. So we stuck our heads out the door and introduced ourselves to Judd.
Judd promptly told us his story and asked if he could rope up with us. He seemed fairly knoweldgable and experience so we agreed to rope up.
We had planned to roll out of Muir at 12:30. My partner and I were up and ready by 11:45. At about 12:00 a.m. we'd not seen nor heard from Judd so we ventured over to the bunkhouse where he was just getting up. He apologized for waking up late and said that he'd be ready in a few. We went back to our tent to get a few more minutes of rest and warm up. About 12:45 we still hadn't seen Judd. So we went back to the bunkhouse and he was finally putting on his shell and crampons (which as Bronco mentioned were old school 10 pointers).
Finally at 1:30 a.m. we set out across the Cowlitz glacier and through Cathedral gap. We hit Ingraham Flats at about 3:00 a.m. and were about 20 minutes behind the RMI groups that left just before us. It was during this "Water" break that I noticed Judd tanking a Dewster from a can. While I'd never heard of this before, I did not question his methodology.
Leaving the Flats my partner took the lead as we began to climb up and traverse over the Ingraham glacier to D.C. It was at this point that Judd really started to lag behind. About every 20 steps he would yell, "Pause"... or "Hold-up".
At first this was a rather minor annoyance but over time my partner and I began to question our pace. We fell further and further behind the groups that Left Muir when we did. As we reached the fixed ropes on D.C. I was struck in the hand by rock fall. At this point I was the middle man in a rope of three. My partner was clear of the rock fall, I was in the middle and Judd behind me. The rope was taut in both directions and I was unable to move.
I yelled to Judd that we needed to go. He said that he was putting on his helmet. After getting hit a 2nd (and almost a 3rd) time I yelled again that we needed to move. Judd still messing with his gear finally started to move when an approaching RMI guide yelled at him. The guide said that this was (as I already knew) not a good place to stop. He then yelled at Judd for clipping into the "hand line".
It took us another 1:45 minutes to get to the midpoint of D.C. At this point I suggested that we go down due to the slow pace that we were keeping. My partner and I agreed but Judd did not. He kept telling us that we're strong and that we'd get there, "Slow and Steady." We tried to explain that slow and steady was gonna put us in serious danger on the way down. But Judd wouldn't have it.
We finally agred on a 7:00 a.m. Turnaround time. I told Judd, "We go till 7 and then we go home!" As we topped the Cleaver we ran smack dab into the wind. with spin drift lashing us in the face we slowed to a crawl. As was the status quo, Judd continued his 20 steps then rest ritual. Looking up ahead we saw a huge back up of climbers (probably 25-30) all moving at a snails pace.
We again told Judd that we should go down. That even if we top out, we weren't sure that we'd have enough gas in the tank to get down. Judd insisted that we were gonna make it. He kept making, "Deals". Saying, "If we get to that ridge, you're gonna change your mind..." This went on until about 6:45 a.m. At about 13K (give or take) my partner and I stopped Judd and said, "We're going down PERIOD! " Judd finally conceeded and said that he would keep going solo. We tried to reason with him and get him to descend with us. But he wanted the top just too bad.
I realize that we should not have left him alone. But as the day progressed we realized that he was so Hell-bent on topping out that he was not concerned about his rope-mates (us). As we moved higher on the Mtn we moved slower. Each time that we tried to turn the ship around he resisted.
Criticize us if you will, because I believe that we deserve it. I've always believed that you never leave someone behind. But when weighing danger to myself against another person (who isn't entirely rational) I chose myself and my partner. I'm just glad that Judd made it down and that I don't have to second guess myself for the rest of my life. For that Bronco, I thank you. You definitely have the patience that I lack."