We were each here for our own reasons – for my husband it was his first-ever high altitude mountaineering trip, for Helen it was all about conquering a defeat (her past attempt in 2009 resulted in being turned away a mere 305 metres from the summit due to tremendous winds), for Paul it was his sixth time on a mountain he loved, yet never underestimating its immense power. For Dane, I am not certain, as he said little, but he had his reasons, one of which was an incredible passion for climbing mountains and embracing life.
As for me, I was here to document the voyage and would travel up as far as Camp Muir, the base camp from which the team would leave for their summit push.
It was a clear July morning when we all bundled into Paul’s station wagon and headed down the I-5 south from Seattle towards the mountain. Like a magnet, my eyes were drawn to it – the only mountain on the horizon, it sat there, watching and waiting.
A few hours later, we found ourselves in paradise, literally.
Paradise ranger station sits at the end of the road in the national park – the rest of the way up was by foot.
Alpine wildflowers greet us in a swirl of colour as we climb, giving way to rock and then ice fields higher up. Following in the footsteps other climbers had kicked in the snow, we trudged upwards, reaching our destination six and a half hours later.
Camp Muir, 3,048 m, hosts a ranger station, solar toilets, a public shelter and a multitude of brightly coloured tents dotting the glacier. From here the team headed out in the dark in their summit attempt the following evening, while I stood shivering in the cold and watched their bobbing lights.
After an agonizingly long wait, including a false alarm when I saw a group descending and rushed out to greet them only to be peering into stranger’s curious eyes under all their gear, the team trooped down towards camp, elated but knackered.
Each one of them was moved by the experience of standing on the summit of Mount Rainier.
To read about their profound revelations, click to the full article here: