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Camp Muir - 04/21/01

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Saturday, April 21st, 2001

So here we were, going to make our first attempt of Camp Muir on Mount Rainier with a small portion of our climbing group. Alison and I were nervous, and kept checking the weather for conditions ahead, hoping that we would be blessed with sun. After waking up at 415am after 4 hours sleep we got ready to get picked up by Rick to make our way out to Longmire to meet John. Arriving in Longmire at about 815am, we already felt the cold, as it was about 30 degrees. Tons of people were in the parking lot at this time collecting themselves and their gear, and what appeared to be an RMI group getting ready to hit the mountain as well.

We headed up to the Paradise lot, and quite quickly as there was absolutely no snow or ice on the road. There were Cadillacs and such driving down so we knew it would be a cakewalk. Just like at Longmire, the Paradise lot was filled with activity and anxious climbers to get up on the mountain. It was so clear and blue that day, I can only hope our summit day will be this beautiful.

As we got our gear out and ready, a few of the others started to show up, but we were almost done, and for us - well that is a rare scenario! By 930am we were ready to get a few pictures and get our strategy going. Bruce and Tracy were going to be our climb leaders, and briefed us on what the day was going to be like. By 945am we were on the trail. I only had my long sleeve base layer on and my Windstopper vest, but after 10 minutes I was ready to take that off. The sun was bright hot, and warmed me more than it had in the last year it seemed. We were so blessed to have such awesome conditions, and everyone was so set to get

up to Camp Muir. Tracy was starting to feel sick as she was still recovering from a bug, and it wasn't getting any better. Then we got to the Panorama Point Hill at around 6300 feet. The climb up the hill was slow, but there were some great steps that were kicked from previous climbers, so it was quite easy. In my own opinion this was the steepest area of the whole climb to Muir. We then ascended over the next 2-3 humps and ridges to get into view of the Muir Snowfield. Bruce pointed out to me the location of Camp Muir just above Anvil Rock and I set my sights on it and locked in. I have been told by others about what a long and arduous climb it is, and how the snowfield seems to go on forever. All I know is that I stayed with the leaders, watched my steps and the steps in front of me, and got in a zone. It seemed like we were all doing so great! Right when we reached the Muir Snowfield we heard that Tracy was turning around, and that Carol was going to head down with her, Carol's husband Fred had turned around as well at the top of Panorama Point as he was not feeling to good either. This totally explains how we have good and bad days. So we pushed on and split up into three groups. Bruce, Alison and I were in the front, with Craig, John, Judy, Dick, and Mary in the middle group, and Rick and Wendy in the back. As we neared 8000 feet I started to get really excited, and we started to pass more people. The clouds really started to roll in and it started to snow. Visibility was okay, but we stayed in contact and sight of the other groups. Needless to say, we did not see the top of the mountain the rest of the trip as it had it's own weather going on.I learned the pressure breathing technique which really helped me. Once we reached around 9000 feet I started to get worried. Was I going to get AMS? HAPE? HACE? I had no idea and it was killing me inside, so I just thought positive and kept putting one foot in front of the other. We started to see all the dozens of snowboarders and skiiers head down the mountain at this time, and I really started to wish that I had brought my downhills, yet the corn snow might have been quite a fight! But where else can you get almost 5000 vertical feet of skiing on one run? When we reached 9500 feet I got pumped! My adrenaline was flowing, and my Chocolate Goo was flowing through my veins. We got our first site of the huts, and we began to boogie. Bruce had to rest so we pushed on ahead of him. I started to feel a splitting headache that I was not able to get rid of for quite awhile afterwords, but it did not affect my performance, but that last 100 yards were sure tough! We got up to the Camp, and the first thing I saw was a big flat table in front of me covered in sheet metal. There were a few others sitting around and I asked if that was where they did medical physicals and such. Everyone laughed, yet I still do not know what it was for?? Anyone know?

We made it to the top at 145pm. Immediately we found a spot to rest and got sheltered from the wind and snow. I unpacked many things, especially my Tylenol and Down Jacket. 15 minutes later folks from our groups started showing up. It was a great feeling to make it up all together as we have all been training together so that we can do this exact sort of thing. It really payed off. The huts were totally covered and unaccessible, so we just got packed up and ready to turn around back down the mountain in minutes. I took as many pictures as I could and joined the group. By 230pm, we put on our snowshoes around 9200 feet and had a great time all the way down with a quick glissade down Panorama Point, and back to the cars! We got back down right around 6pm I think and enjoyed some greasy Mexican Food at a local eatery. Alison, Rick, Dick, and I are scheduled to go back up on May 5th, so I hope to get some pics up top on Muir with good weather. One can only hope! Pics are on my slowly constructed site at http://nwog.org/reports/042101muir.htm

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