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Slog

DC Daddy Daughter Team

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Hi all: The weather window was a little late. Here is the story

Whiteout:

Got to Paradise about 11AM registered and headed into a sloppy mess. Whiteout conditions with snow fall to 9000 feet. At 9000 the clouds lay beneath us and we took pictures while enjoying the final 1000 feet up to Muir. Arrived about 7 PM ( long trip to Muir) There was room in the Stone Hut at Muir so we stayed there. We were very tired and had no chance for making a midnight summit bid so we slept in. Got up about 8 AM and started leisurely heading to Ingraham flats. Note: The Ranger asked us to move our stuff because a Chinook Airship was coming in but could not give details) Right before the Flats we ran in to a Pretty buff looking young lady in a sleeveless T-shirt with a full sleave of Tats. She was coming down. Did you summit I asked. "No we did Libery Ridge and we are minus one right now due to an avalanche" she continued quickly down. That explains the Chinook that passed over 30 minutes later.Got to the Flats and Darrians feet were sore. I worked on them for about 40 minutes and she said she wanted to go on up. We went up. I was pleased that so many teams and Guide group recognised us as a Daddy Daughter team and offered so much support. Darrian got to experience high exposure getting on to the Cleaver. The small ledge while wearing crampons with a 1000 foot drop below. I remember my first time experiencing that. On the Nose of the cleaver there were about 6 full ropes of hand line straight up. I hadn't seen this directness before. It was kind of fun. The entire Cleaver was snow and very direct. I made a mental note that it would be trouble getting back down to the hand lines with the route being so direct especially since it would be dark then. I started to question the safety of summiting at sunset with a 14 year old. At the top of the cleaver we saw the guide groups we had been shadowing. We rested. I thought we were done. It was 4 PM when we started up. Darrian made the choice. In retrospect never let 14 year old girls shame you into going up high when you as the leader and father are totally responsible.

The Upper Mountain:

We started slowly and crossed a very nice crevasse at 12,800 by walking on a 2x6 not bad for me but makes your heart pitter patter to watch your daughter do it. Onward-

Came across a ladder laid across a crevasse I don't like crossing ladders with crampons- it was stable. Darrian crab walked it on her behind with out issue. Again I made a note: This will be dicey coming down in the dark being more tired. At this point we are in the sun shadow and its starting to get cold. The route switchbacks and eventually we can see the Summit rocks with bright sunlight behind them and plumes of spindrift dancing all over the place. I pucker a little knowing what that wind and cold feels like. Darrian is very tired. Summit fever has us both. Turning back is not an option however some of my other options are beginning to seem unrealistic

We cleared the summit rim and dropped into the crater. Oh my God we did it. I am standing on top of Rainier with my 14 year old daughter. The guides check in with us and ask about our options. I had thought about staying and waiting till sunrise however we each had all 6 layer of clothing on and it was cold and very windy it was time to leave now. I had promised Darrian a nice long break on top but after the summit feaver ended at the top, reality came crashing down. Its sunset and getting cold, the wind has really picked up. My Daughter is exausted, Im at 65% but know its all on me to get us home. Let's go! "Dad you said I could have a long break and find a good rock". Bang I hit a large rock with my ice ax sparks go flying and a small chunk lays on the the snow. "There's your rock lets go" "Dad " "Come on"

Down:

It feels good to start down. You get in a wind shadow and the travel gives rest to the tired uphill muscles. We make good time and it quickly gets dark.Interesting side note. we both puked within five minutes of each other right before dark. ;-) We switch on head lamps previously mounted on our helmets. Darrian's goes out but I have a spare. Spare goes out. Oops the spares use a smaller battery size. my bad. I question my judgement in bringing my daughter up.....Re-evaluating She is exhausted. Staying put is not a good option. Heading down with one headlamp is a risk. In my mind I have put my daughter in greater risk than I intended... The normal thing to do would be to put the least experience person first on a short rope and head down that way the more experienced climber has control however; we are short one light and Darrian is reliant on me

Decision:

I short Roped Darrian very close behind me I know what you thinking but here is the idea. We needed the comfort of being close. There is enough light from the moon that if she is close she can see exactly where I step. If I look straight down my light illuminates her path too. We are close enough to feel any slipping and I let her slide into me when she needs to. This turns out to be an outstanding way to safely get down the cleaver. We reach the fixed lines with no problems. I am glad it is night and Darrian cant see the exposed ledge off the Cleaver. Finally we are off the cleaver.

Oh Ya. She is still exhausted We are on the Flat area between The nose of DC and Ingraham flats. Darrian can only go a short way and wants to rest. NOT gonna happen. This is the site on one of the worst accidents ever on Rainier and Its all I can think of. Darrian sits in the snow and does not want to get up.

Mean Dad:

"Darrian I have put you in danger that I never intended to, I am sorry, I love you please forgive me but GET UP your moving, no more breaks. Poor thing didn't understand, she thought she wanted to rest, I knew she needed to get to camp. We went slow but I pulled her on the rope, I kept going when she slipped.

Camp Muir:

We got to Muir at 2AM I quickly got her gear off and put her in her sleeping bag. She was out in a minute. I relaxed for the first time in hours.

Safe:

We woke up to a beautiful day. the sun was shining I knew Darrian had a tough day ahead. Her feet were Hamburger I fixed them up as much as possible. I put as much of the gear in my pack as I could to lighten her load. Still, its a long way when your tired and your feet hurt that bad. We got to the car about 2 PM and headed home

Epilog:

Darrian told her friens I was mean. Would she do it again. "YES"

Me "I dunno" Let amnesia set in a little

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I'm glad to see you got down safely but this trip report could be the outline for a course on what NOT to do on Mt. Rainier.

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Date of this climb??

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This is scary. I'm very glad you and your daughter are OK.

 

Edit to add: the first time I went up Rainier (only been up twice) I had no crevasse rescue training and had never worn crampons in my life. Conditions were very friendly. My partner insisted on unroping so we could glissade down the upper mountain, which was almost completely filled in because it was early June. He told me to jump over any small crevasses I encountered and then took off below me. I was angry but had to glissade or walk alone because there were no other options. We made it safely down, but in retrospect it was a bit like your experience: everything is fine until you're dead. Hopefully we can all learn from these near misses, because it's hard to learn from mistakes that kill you, or worse kill your child.

 

Edited by Rad

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This TR reminds me of a quote by a good friend:

 

We all make dumb decisions. Most of the time we get away with it. But when don't we're dead.

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Is there a news story about the LR avalanche?? I hadn't heard about that.

 

And, glad you made it down safe and sound! My kids are too young to go on big climbs yet, but I have found myself in situations similar to what you describe with my wife years ago. In hindsight, it is easy to see how close to disaster things were, but it was easy at the time to keep on trucking.

 

Live and learn, I guess. Of course, I've had a couple close calls (and the death of friends) in recent years that make me wonder if I really do learn..... or, how safe alpine climbing is.

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I took a group that included an 11 year old on Rainier last summer. For the sake of anyone who is contemplating something similar - here's how we worked it:

 

We did a couple of training climbs with self arrest practice beforehand. During these sessions we shook down our gear, rental boots, climbing technique, and roping up.

 

We had a gear list and went over it several times. We also discussed possible emergency scenarios - crevasse fall, someone slips, altitude sickness, hypothermia, blisters, and had plans for dealing with each eventuality.

 

Alex plays a lot of sports. Training for Rainier wasn't a problem for him in that regard. Still, I recommended some local training hikes - Mailbox Peak, etc. This is a huge issue for some kids. No kid that age is going to have anywhere near the all day endurance of a fit adult. This must be taken into account - the schedule should include at least an extra day, and the kid's health and well being constantly monitored. They can become exhausted quickly, and don't have the physical awareness (eating, drinking, etc) that an adult does.

 

Our party included 3 very experienced people, two moderately experienced person, Alex, and his dad. We could brute force anyone out of a crevasse with that kind of manpower. Our rope teams were robust in case anyone did slip.

 

Our weather was perfect. The last thing you want to worry about when taking a kid up Rainier is weather.

 

We climbed via a normal schedule to ensure there would be plenty of other teams on the mountain for backup in case something really weird happened. This was a nice to have in our case, and we didn't have it. Strangely, there was only one other party of two skiers we never really saw for more than a couple of minutes. The point is, climbing an 'off' schedule means you'll likely be alone, or near to it, on the mountain. Depending on other teams for rescue is never a good idea.

 

We had a plan, and when that plan needed to change, we weighed the pros and cons of those proposed changes together. For example, due to Alex's blisters, we opted to camp on the ridge instead of Schurman.

 

In the end, despite 2 previous trips in the same footwear with no problems, the REI Blue Boots of Death hammered Alex's feet on the approach and he was not able to continue the following day. 3 tries at blister preventatives failed. His father's presence was really important here - it was a tough call to swallow for him, even if he fully understood why we had to make it. His dad stayed behind on summit day to hang with his son - also a great move.

 

In the end, we all had a wonderful experience, Alex included. His feet did hurt a bit on the descent, but they weren't trashed because we'd gotten on that issue early.

 

I think introducing a kid to climbing is a wonderful thing. Just thought I'd post some considerations that, for our group anyway, resulted in a safe and rewarding experience.

 

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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Questionable decisions aside (and glad you and your daughter are OK), this here;

 

"No we did Libery Ridge and we are minus one right now due to an avalanche" she continued quickly down.

 

What was the outcome of this? I couldn't find anything using the googles.

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At least it sounds like Slog has a fair amount of climbing experience and is familiar with Rainier. He may have made some bad calls but was able to use his experience and judgement to get out of it.

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thanks for sharing, a good read.

i think the foremost thing is the amount of relative risk given it is a youth, no less your own daughter, was higher than you'd or most parents would like. The headlamp was unfortunate but it seems like even if hers worked maybe doing the short-short rope was the most prudent travel method for her--she may have been stumbling down in front.

 

But it doesn't sound like conditions themselves were an issue, even the cold, I'm sure you could have built a protected spot and/or given her some of your warmth layers. Not sure if you had a small stove but hunkering down, giving her your puffy and making some hot drink could have gone a long way. I'm not a parent but when working with kids I get pretty anxious watching them climb fences or do anything where there is even a slight chance of injury so I can only imagine how I'd feel with my own. However in a paradoxical way, exposure to risk is one of things things that can actually be really important in life.

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A long time ago, I made the trip to Muir from Paradise with my 10 year old Son. I knew some people that were making a summit climb and went up just to say hi. We made it but the boy was really tired upon arrival. The worst of it was we both got sunburned which was my fault of course. The best of it was experiencing his exhilaration, and sense of accomplishment on the descent. It was really cool. We both learned some things, lived, and had a good day.

 

He has not followed me in climbing and I'm glad. Especially alpine climbing. It's an inherently dangerous activity.

 

I'm very glad you and your daughter ended up ok after this climb slog. Our good instincts, and discipline, are important to our survival whether in the mountains or not.

 

d

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