It's 11:30pm and I'm on the redeye flight to Boston. I was only asked on Sunday if I could go but it's a rather important customer opportunity so I didn't hesitate to say 'yes'. If you're thinking I travel a lot, you're right. I think this is the 6th week in a row with a trip and it's starting to take its toll. Not only on me, but also (and probably moreso) on the K-girl. At least when I'm on these trips I don't really have time to think of what I'm missing back home.

But I want to tell you about something else. I want to tell you about mountains, men, and dreams…

Or at least about a mountain and SOME men.

Two weeks ago, four guys arrived in Seattle from Wisconsin and Arizona to try and climb to the top of Mt Rainier. Now April is NOT the ideal time of year to climb Rainier. Aside from the colder weather and likelihood of inclement weather, there's just a ton of snow on the mountain and it's not compacted yet. That means you probably need snowshoes and/or you're going to posthole (sinking into the deep snow up to at least your knee – very frustrating) all the way to the top. But kids being in school and jobs and the whatnot, it was the only time we could all get off simultaneously.

The Hudson boys (Matt, Andy, and Adam) arrived on Wednesday night and we went straight to Stellar for pizza, beer, and to figure out what the hell we were going to do. Despite being sunny out, the weather forecast for Rainier was not good. We were thinking of trying to summit on Friday or Saturday and the wind speeds were predicted to be around 50mph at the summit and 8 degrees. That's damn cold and honestly, doesn't sound like a lot of fun.

So we thought about other options. Adams? Sneak onto Helens? Maybe go skin Baker and stay at the infamous Baker cabin where the hot tub is always ready and the food is damn good. I could rent a splitboard and have a nice ride down… but the Hudson boys don't ski or board.

*head in hands*

But it didn't sound all that burly and the boys came up to climb a mountain. We had a couple days so we thought we'd see what the forecast would do over the next 24 hours. In the meantime, there were snowshoes to be rented and gear to be bought, but I didn't have time for any of it. A couple days before I was asked to go to San Jose last minute on a sales call. So I tasked Brian with grabbing me some food and some snowshoes and went home….after a few rounds of shuffleboard at the 9lb hammer.

The next day i was up at 4:30am to catch a 6:30am flight and at the meeting by 9:30am. We hoped a 3:00pm return and I was back in time to catch dinner with the boys (now joined by Jayson from Phoenix) and then the Nat Geo Series with K, E, and B. The show was on treasures lost in afghanistan and not my favorite so far, but interesting nonetheless.

Getting longer…

In the meantime, the weather report had gotten better so we decided to try rainier anyway. Thursday looked good. Friday looked nasty and Saturday looked great. We decided to head up Thursday and stay one day at Camp Muir where there's an old shelter and we wouldn't need tents and then try to summit on Saturday morning.

After hours of packing and being told me backpack wasn't nearly big enough and I wasn't bringing enough stuff and I was going to freeze to death I did have second thoughts. Not because I thought I was going to die, but because for all this work, I should get some riding out of it.

So I decided to bring my snowboard up with me. Brian was going to too. While they would all be walking down, we'd be riding down, making turns and going 10 times faster.

Up early and out the door by 7. The first day doesn't take too long. Just need to hike up 4 miles to Muir and about 4000 vertical feet. After breakfast in Spanaway and getting our climbing pass, we started hiking at about noon. Here's a shot of us just before we left:

 Rainier Group

As you can see I couldn't really fit everything in my pack so i tied it on the outside. Doesn't look the best, but I'm sure I saved a few pounds instead of going with my giant pack where I would've been tempted to carry more gear.

About halfway up the wind really picked up and we could see the weather starting to deteriorate. Luckily the wind was at our back so it wasn't so bad. I don't remember being that tied except for the last 60 minute push. We go to this point where you could see the hut, but no matter how logn you walked for, it never seemed to get closer.

Six hours after starting, we rolled into the hut one by one, happy to be done and not have to setup tents. Despite not being cold all day, I immediately got chilled. I got into my sleeping bag and tried to take a quick nap. I got in about an hour before waking up, cold. I realized that my crappy 15 degree bag was going to make for a chilly night. I tried not to think of the cold night ahead and instead got up to start making some tea.

Already the weather was getting pretty bad outside. Wind was up to 30 mph or so and it was getting dark and starting to snow. Glad again to be in a wooden structure with bunks. We made dinner and by the time we finsihed eating, the wind was up to about 50mph and you couldn't go outside without covered in snow. We knew that any idea of an attempt on the summit the next day was out of the question.

We awoke the next day at around 9, having slept about 12 hours. Thw wind was still going at 50mph. Despite the hut being about 20-30 degrees inside, i stayed warm using a bivy sack that Jayson had brought and packing the bottom of my sleeping bag with a nalgene full of boiling water, which stays warm for an incredible amount of time.

We spent the next day hanging out and watching as the bad weather died down. By 2 or 3 we were outside hanging out. Matt and I even went for a 1/2 mile hike to cathdral gap, which was where'd head first the next morning.

Even Longer… I'll maybe leave out some details

It was windy when we woke up at 3am and it was dark, but the stars were very bright. We roped up into 2, 3 person rope teams and headed off. About 30 minutes in, B lost his glove trying to pee while walking. He detached from the rope and headed back to the hut. We kept going.

After passing through the gap, we hugged gibralter rock ridge line going up. The wind was bad and it was blowing snow and ice into our face but it wasn't too bad. more annoying then anything else. We were heading right up the mountain and i noticed we were going slower. I looked up and noticed that Jayson was retreating to where Andy was, which is where i was headed.

It was hard to tell where their path was and I think I got off it. I was under them, so I turned and headed straight-up the snow hill, digging my crampons in with every step. Gradually the snow turned into packed snow and then into ice. I wasn't getting a solid grip with my crampons but instead of freaking out, i just kicked harder and kept going…

A few feet later, I slipped and I started sliding. I wasn't even holding my axe in such a way to self-arrest immediately and spent a few seconds bring it around to use it. At the same time, Andy was preparing for my pull. We had about 20' of slackbetween us, but he was belaying me. I'm not sure if he stopped me or i stopped myself, but i was probably 20-30 ft lower then where I'd started and a bit sketched out by the whole thing.

Not because I'd fallen 20 ft, but because below me, the snow kept going. If you picked up a lot of speed, it wasn't clear where or if you'd stop. ugh. SO, I decided now that I'd keep my axe ready and I'd dig in harder and I climbed up to them, past the point where i fell and reached Jayson and Andy.

They both wanted off and I agreed.

We retreated back to the gap, taking our time and discussed our options. At this point, I just wasn't very confident in myself and I'd decided that I'd had enough. Andy and Adam were with me. Jayson was on the fence leading towards turning around and Matt was willing to give it another shot (though to his benefit, he'd not seen any of what happened). We told them to go if they wanted, but they didn't so we all turned around. We were back to the hut by 5am. I grabbed a cliff bar and watched the sunrise. It was beautiful.

Rainier Sunrise
We tookan hour long nap or so and then headed down. Because it was so early in the day and the snow hadn't softened up, it wasn't a ton of fun, but it was much better than walking. Had it been 4 hours later it would've been a great run.

Rainier Ride
We were down by 11am and back home by 3pm. Safe and sound.

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