We get our climbing permit from an office ranger who was very reluctant to let us go without first passing the "interview" with a climbing ranger. We pass with flying colors and finally get on our way. We depart the Paradise parking lot at around 5:30PM and set up camp 1.5 hrs later at the edge of the Nisqually glacier at 6,200ft to acclimatize.
The chosen route, the Fuhrer Finger, is not very popular and is said to be the shortest route to the summit of Mt Rainier. The next day, after a 4:00am wake up, we rope up for glacier travel and make it up to our high camp at 9,200ft. The wind is howling to 50+ MPH over the summit, and we kill time by building a very comfortable camp featuring a kitchen and a bathroom with commanding views. At 5:00pm we are in bed.
The next morning, we wake up at 1:00am for our summit attempt. The wind is a little calmer than the day before, but the forcast called for 45 MPH winds at the summit. We'll see!
On the way up the Fuhrer Finger 40-degree chute, an small ice block hits Yannick in the head and breaks his headlamp. Fortunately, the helmet was there to prevent head injury. Higher up on the mountain, the wind picks up dramatically. Johnston loses a glove, then later a knife that gets swallowed by a crevasse. Well prepared, we had spare gloves to continue on with our summit push.
Several crevasse crossings later, we reach the true summit at 1:15PM after 10 hours of continuous effort. The wind on Columbia Crest almost blew Shirley off the mountain. Three hours later, we make it back to high camp, exhausted. Mission accomplished.
Our legs look like they are ready for the PCT. OVER for now!
Our friend Johnston did us a big favor by driving up from Los Angeles with all our PCT equipment. We had also packed up our mountaineering and glacier travel gear (before leaving for The Inside Passage) just in case we got a chance at Mt Rainier (14,411 ft). Johnston made it up to Seattle in an astonishing 24-hour record time. After the necessary stop at REI, a Pho dinner, and a few hours of rest time, we are on our way to Mt Rainier National Park.