Mount rainier - emmons glacier (14,411')

Pick A Day

This climb of Mount Rainier’s Emmons Route was a part of the WTA Charity Climb. Proceeds went to benefit Washington state trails and parks. The other half of this climb was an attempt at Mt Baker, during which we ended up spending 15 hours in our sleeping bags. But, my partner Brandon and I did make a successful attempt at Baker which you can see here. Thank you to KAF Adventures for an excellent time! I would suggest them to anyone looking to get into the sport. Their focus on education sets them apart.

Day 1 TH To Glacier Basin Camp

I’ll start with the sad part of my story from climbing Mount Rainier’s Emmons Route. Due to a long summer of climbing and working with little rest, I managed to lose almost all my photographs. So instead of my usual multi-day format, I am going to keep this one short. I am not into the idea of reliving my lack of photos and memories. Luckily My groupmates were willing to share their’s. So a few of the pics you see here are thanks to them.

For our half of the charity climb group, I felt elated to learn that we got to climb the Emmons route on Mount Rainier. Steep and difficult, it seems a good test of my ability to weather many of the larger summits I plan to set foot on one day.

We started the journey off by hiking up the valley to the Glacier Basin campground. The campground is excellent with easy access to water, a simple and easy approach, and a plethora of sites. The easy first day was welcome, and once in camp we practiced rescue techniques, and rope up methods. An absolute blast for anyone into climbing.

Day 2 Glacier Basin To Camp Schurman

From Glacier Basin campground, we continued the Emmons route on Mount Rainier via the rough climber’s trail. Close up views of Little Tahoma dominate the day. As you climb the views open up to all the surrounding valleys and peaks. We reached Camp Schurman by late afternoon. After showing our passes we opted to move above the ranger station and camp higher up on the Emmons glacier.

The sites around camp Schurman looked like they fill with haste on a summer weekend.   The camp was itself, pretty incredible. While it was nerve-wracking to have my tent on the precipice of an opening crevasse, the view was unbeatable. Plus, pondering the next day’s adventure, quieted my mind and got me into bed ready for whatever came next.

Days 3 and 4 Summit --> Camp --> Home

We woke up at around 1 am on July 23rd to perfect mountaineering weather. Bitter cold (low 20’s), zero wind, a clear sky, and almost no others on the glacier yet.  We ate breakfast and started but I could tell our pace for the first hour or so was slow. Either way, once the sun started to rise the mountain became magical.

The sunrise appears to dance across the Emmons glacier and lights up Mount Rainier. Brilliant hues of pink, red, and orange dominated a 10-minute span that felt like an eternity. I could not believe the display I was watching. Photos abounded, spirits rose and our pace quickened.

The climb itself was far less difficult than I imagined. I had undergone a serious training program for the entire summer that you can find here. I am sure that is why I was one of the more lively climbers in our group.

Reaching the summit is something that I cannot put into words. I still don’t know how to describe it, and every time I see photos I still get some fuzzy feelings. It is worth every step, that I can say.  After leaving the summit of Mt Rainier, we were stuck in a few traffic jams while retreating on the Emmons route. As I was in the lead on our way down I got to learn how to make a new trail on a glacier! Freighting, yes, but also 100% fun.

I remember the guide saying “why are you waiting in line, there is a whole glacier to use”. All I did after was nod at my team to follow and began running down the side of the Emmons glacier on Mount Rainier. I was on a pure mountain high and loving every minute of it. I wish I could capture that feeling and put it in my pocket for later.

Once we arrived back at camp we took the rest of the day to enjoy our accomplishment and imbibe a little. I carried a 22 oz glass bottle up the mountain for my enjoyment, everyone else brought cans.  I know I looked like the fool who had to carry the heavy glass bottle back down. But all the others in the group wanted a taste of my brew. That felt like consolation enough. The last day was a simple hike out with a lot of looking back in wonderment. Our entire group of 10 made it without serious problems, even the guides felt impressed by that.