Synopsis: Wake up crazy early! Climb from Ingraham Flats to summit crater–wander around to find true summit, Columbia Crest, quick celebration at the summit! Head back to Ingraham Flats, deal with painful blisters all the way back to Camp Muir, walk back to the parking lot, drive back to Ashford, drive to hotel in Seattle, return the rental car, and pack up 2 suitcases of gear–then fall into bed, exhausted, and get 6 hours of sleep before my early AM flight!
No wonder I was tired!
I made this 3.5 minute video to summarize all 3 days on Mount Rainier:
For the full story, keep reading 🙂
Alternate title: A truly long day, filled with HIGH highs, and low lows.
ICYMI: Day 0 Gear Check / Day 1 Camp Muir / Day 2 Ingraham Flats
Hike/Climb: Mount Rainier, the 4th highest peak on the list of 50 state highpoints (behind only Denali, AK; Mt. Whitney, CA; and Mt. Elbert, CO), looms nearly two vertical miles over Seattle and the surrounding area at 14,410 feet elevation. The mountain is a stratovolcano, with a last known eruption in the mid to late-1800’s.
Mount Rainier is the most topographically prominent mountain, as well as the most heavily glaciated peak, in the contiguous United States. It’s the 5th highest peak overall in the lower 48.
Mount Rainier is our 14th state highpoint, and almost exactly double the elevation of our highest peak thus far, South Dakota (at 7,242 feet).
A little backstory: Why did I pick Mount Rainier for our next highpoint?
I wanted a challenge that included snow and some technical climbing. Many other highpoints feature snow (Oregon, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, California, probably others), and I wanted to learn some basic mountaineering skills. After Javi’s work trip to Seattle in July 2019, I guess I had Mount Rainier on the brain. I can’t really articulate it fully, other than I just felt called to climb it!
Also, when we climbed Mount Marcy, NY last summer, it was the hardest mountain I had climbed to date. The challenge gave me a taste for how difficult mountains can be, and how great the reward upon summiting.
When I mentioned Mount Rainier to Joel last summer/fall, he readily agreed. We want to get to the point where we could lead ourselves up difficult climbs, such as Mount Hood or Mount Shasta, so we signed up for a guided trip/expedition of Mount Rainier with International Mountain Guides, so they could show us the way 🙂 When the dates came out in Sept 2020 (Pro tip: fill out the paperwork ASAP and send it in as soon as dates are released, to get the dates you want), we were a little slow on the sign-up, so we didn’t get the June dates we wanted, so we went with what we could get: May 9-12, 2021.
Goal: Of course it goes without saying that reaching the summit is the goal. But even more than that, the #1 goal is to make it back safely. I had a sub-goals of making it up and back with energy to spare, being vigilant and safe, knowing when I have reached my physical limits, and helping my teammates along the way.
Gear: I wore the same things I had been wearing the last 2 days, with a few tweaks: 2 Smartwool shirts, TNF hiking jacket, Outdoor Research pants, 2 pairs Smartwool socks, foot-warmers, La Sportiva Nepal boots, OR gaiters, crampons, OR winter hat, helmet with headlamp, OR mid-weight gloves, and ice axe in hand. Later I would add layers as we got higher (my OR little puffy and big puffy), and my glacier glasses when it got sunny.
In my TNF backpack: glacier glasses, heavy mittens, the 2-3 extra layers I wasn’t wearing (rainjacket was in there too, I think), snacks, phone, Garmin InReach mini, extra headlamp and batteries, and 2 liters of water. I estimated it weighed about 12 lbs or less.
Weather: Below freezing upon waking up at Ingraham Flats, as my water bottles had ice chunks. Peter, our lead guide, called it “balmy” weather 🙂 At the summit later, 11° with 35 MPH winds. Brrrrr!
Pre-Hike: So after that tough night last night, I woke up to Peter’s wake-up call, “And who do we have in these tents?” [Note: I changed everyone’s names for privacy reasons]
WHOA–It’s go time!
I sprang up to a seated position, removed my earplugs quickly, and mumbled loudly “Vanessa’s in here!” so he’d know I was awake.
I checked my watch. 12:20 AM.
With several heartbeats of adrenaline already flowing, I paused to do a quick self-check: physically, I felt tired, but not exhausted. And mentally, I felt refreshed and ready to take on this challenge! Whew! Let’s do this!
The night before, I had rehearsed in my mind what I needed to do upon waking: contacts in (they didn’t freeze, yay!), base layer pants off (since it was “balmy” outside, in Peter’s words), foot warmers into boots, 2 pairs of fresh socks on, boots on, go use the “bathroom.” Then get GU packet into belly, take a Diamox (to prevent altitude sickness, I took 5 of these total, the last one being right here), and get some electrolytes down.
Peter said it usually takes 1.5 hours upon waking to get started, but if we were ready earlier, we would leave when ready. I didn’t want to be the hold-up, so I hustled through my “chores” and when the hot water was ready, I got over to our “kitchen” area to eat oatmeal. Everyone seemed in good spirits, and we forced down some breakfast. I couldn’t finish the last 2 bites of my oatmeal, and I needed to use another blue bag (kinda felt OK about this, as I’d rather do it prior to starting the climb, than have the need during the climb–which would be a pain to take off the harness, get unroped, etc. Plus I am familiar with having a nervous tummy prior to big physical events, so this was par for the course).
The blue bags would sit in the snow outside our tents, and we’d pick them back up on our way through, during the descent. We also had a trash bag in our tent to hold all the non-summit gear, and we’d pick those up later on too.
All my stuff was already organized, so the final preparation was to put on my gaiters, harness, helmet with headlamp, crampons, with ice axe in hand. I drank as much water as I dared to–I wanted to strike that balance between not dehydrated, but not needing to go within an hour or 2.
I did one final bathroom break before putting on my harness, and was ready to go!
We met up near the kitchen tent, where we had a little staging area. The guides checked us over to make sure we had our gear on, and everything fit properly. Our guide, Brandon, roped up with me and Joel. We were rope team 4 of 4 teams (we had 3 teams of 3, 1 team of 2).
At the last minute, we all took off our puffy outer jackets. The strategy of starting cold worked out well, because it only takes about 5 minutes to get warmed up.
Peter let us know that our first break would be approximately 90 minutes from the start, with the total time estimated at 5 hours. I appreciated this, so I could 1) set a mini-goal for myself, and 2) make sure I allocated my energy appropriately.
At 1:40 AM, the 11 of us (7 climbers, 4 guides) set off on our summit bid of Mount Rainier, up the Ingraham Direct route.
Hike/Climb: I had a faint idea of how far and how steep our route was. I thought it was going to be about 2 miles, with 3,100 feet elevation gain (afterwards, my Garmin said it was 1.16 miles and 3,400 ft gain, but it appears it didn’t capture the first half mile or so of the climb, so I question its accuracy).
I had my headlamp on low, to save batteries, and just focused on keeping the right distance between me and Brandon (we probably had 25-30 ft of rope between us, and the rope should sag slightly, like a smiley face 🙂 for the right distance). I wanted to make GoPro videos, but I knew that any distraction could be a mistake, so I only got it out on breaks.
I remembered Peter’s terse admonition yesterday: Do not fall.
Also, I reminded myself: This is what you’ve trained for, for the past 6 months. Now it’s time to execute.
I smiled at the line of 9 bobbing headlamps in front of me; we looked like little Arctic explorers. Joel crunched along through the snow behind me, which made me feel better, and I was second from the back, following Brandon’s confident steps. The night sky had no clouds, yet the stars weren’t bright, surprisingly, and there was no moon at all (the new moon was on the 11th). I found that I could see well, even with my headlamp on the low setting and not-so-bright stars, and that gave me comfort that I wasn’t going to trip over some unseen hazard.
Not from our climb, but an IMG team the week prior (we didn’t have the good fortune of a sunrise, but I imagine our headlamps looked similar to the below):
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We had a stretch of steep snow for awhile (30-45 min?? Maybe an hour. I had no concept of time in those wee hours, and I didn’t want to check my watch too soon), then we entered the crevasse and icefall area. I never felt cold during this section, even though it must have been about 25° or so. My Outdoor Research gloves did a great job for my hands, and the foot-warmers and doubled up Smartwool socks were perfect for my feet.
A Dicey Section
I had braced myself for some potentially dangerous areas, and soon enough, we came upon the first tricky spot, a horizontal ladder crossing a crevasse [note: I am not sure if I’m remembering these in the correct order–just going by memory now, nearly 2 weeks later]
OK V, you got this, it’s just a 6 foot ladder, all your teammates in front have already made it safely across. You’re just going to grab the rope for stability in your left hand, hold the ice axe in your right hand, and take it slow and steady across these boards that someone kindly laid over the ladder to make this easier.
Made it across the ladder just fine… Whew! It helped that it was dark, so I have no idea how deep that crevasse was. I hoped there wouldn’t be too many more of those, and thankfully that was the only one. I paused and watched Joel cross without any issue after me.
To my delight, I felt completely calm, confident, and focused. That intense focus is one of the things I love about hiking and climbing. In that moment, you are forced to be 100% present, and it makes it not only memorable, but produces an incredible feeling of accomplishment afterwards.
I could vaguely see we were navigating an area unlike any other I’d ever experienced, with huge ice formations, crevasses, and various obstacles to go around or over. This was the Ingraham glacier, and we were taking this more direct route, vs. taking the easier but longer route, Disappointment Cleaver.
The next challenge we faced was a small uneven gap/crevasse, but had a jump down to the other side of about 3 feet. I yelled to Brandon, Do I just jump down from this spot? He said yes, so I went for it. I landed awkwardly–jumping with crampons isn’t the easiest thing–and rolled my right ankle a bit. I shook it off, and thankfully was fine, but I dreaded coming to that spot on the way back. I wondered, how will I jump up 3 feet and over 2 feet? It seemed impossible, so I put it out of my mind.
One step at a time. Just get to the next break.
I have no pics from the entire climb up, just the few GoPro videos. Here’s a pic from the way back:
My breathing was heavy, yet manageable. Determined to make the summit, I had a calm and excited attitude about the day. I felt good about our chances of reaching the top.
I kept in mind a little trick I gleaned from one of TNF athletes, Kit DesLauriers (who I met along with Hillary Allen in 2019!), in her book Higher Love: Climbing and Skiing the Seven Summits (highly recommend!): We don’t use as much energy when walking in the dark. Probably not true, but a great mind trick 🙂 Especially since I don’t particularly enjoy walking by headlamp.
So with that in the back of my mind, I continued on, following Brandon and the team up the last mile to the summit of Mount Rainier.
We had plenty of switchbacks, which are tricky with a rope team, and then came upon many running belays.
I explained running belays in my Day 2 post, but it’s a way for the team to be anchored to the mountain by rope, while moving in a non-vertical direction on a steep or dangerous section. I really appreciated the anchors for the safety factor, but also because it gave me time to catch my breath, as the whole team had to slow down for them.
And we had a lot of anchors, so I got to catch my breath a lot. So far, so good 🙂
The only other tricky spot was a very narrow section, less than one foot wide, but we had the side of the mountain to our right, and could use the ice axe for support/stability. Brandon told us to watch our foot placement very carefully in this section, and I thought, I’ve already been doing that, so nothing new. Again, it helped it was still dark so we couldn’t see how far down we might go if we slipped.
This narrow section culminated in a sort of curved corner, where we really had to hug the inner part of the mountain. I watched Brandon carefully navigate this, then I copied what he did–use the ice axe as a way to cling to the mountain. We all made it through fine. My pep talk last night must have worked, because I felt very confident and sure-footed. Either that, or a lot of people were praying for me 😉
We continued to walk around/over crevasses, snow mounds, snow bridges, and seracs, and navigate very steep sections.
Finally, A Break
Now, I knew we had been walking awhile, so I decided to check my watch, as I really needed a water break.
We were at almost exactly 1.5 hours. Break time is coming very soon, just keep moving.
I figured we weren’t taking a break yet because we needed a safe spot to stop… and I was right. Unfortunately, that “safe spot” didn’t come for another hour, due to the steepness and presence of seracs. I was very parched, and soooo glad when we could finally stop for a break.
2.5 hours down… we were about halfway already!
During the break, we quickly chomped down our snacks, gulped as much water as we could handle (it had ice chunks in it, and I have a hard time drinking icy water), and let our legs rest a few minutes. Peter said we would walk about another hour, then take our final break before the summit.
Lisa wasn’t feeling good, so Roman roped up with her to head back to Ingraham Flats. I felt sad that her summit attempt got cut short by altitude sickness, and hoped she was OK.
The next section was easier–no more narrow crossings, ladders, or jumps. Just switchbacks… seemingly never-ending switchbacks.
My legs grew tired, but I told myself they were fine, it was just the lack of oxygen.
Those pre-dawn hours were still dark, and so quiet, except for the crunching of our boots in the snow and ice.
I focused on the tiny little gains:
Each step… crunch crunch… brings me closer… crunch crunch.. to the top.
Each step (as of the middle of day 1!) is a new personal record for elevation gain.
I kept my spirits high with these little encouragements to myself. Everyone seemed to be doing great, with the exception of Cathy-Anne, who had fallen down once but caught herself; she seemed hesitant a few times, to the point where Peter had to spur her on (she was right behind him).
From time to time, I wondered, Is someone farting? but soon realized it was the mountain’s sulfurous stench. Hard to believe a mountain like this has cracks that let such smelly vapors escape.
Right around when we thought the sun would come up, about 5 AM, the clouds/fog rolled in instead. Darnit! I hoped they were temporary, but they lingered and seemed to get thicker, making it hard to see more than a short distance away. Little snowflakes drifted through the air. Still hyper-focused, I had no idea that the fog combined with freezing temps was creating rime on our hair, clothing, gear, and eyelashes.
Before I knew, we were at the last break!
While on break, we discovered the rime all over each other’s faces, and had a chuckle over the way it clung to each strand of my hair that had fallen out of the hasty braid I did the night before. Joel’s beard had little icicles hanging off it.
My GoPro shut off during the video above. I think the cold air–probably in the teens at this elevation–just zapped it. I had it in my backpack waist pocket, but probably should have carried it in my chest pocket to keep it warm. I didn’t have the mental capacity to try the other battery in it, which was in my backpack–just didn’t think of that option. Plus, I didn’t have much time to be fussing with the GoPro. Once again, I put on my big puffy jacket immediately upon stopping (and I had been wearing the little puffy since the last break), but this time, started shivering almost immediately.
I remember looking down and wondering what it looked like without the fog–probably an amazing view! Maybe someday I will go back and find out? 😉
As Brandon got water or snacks out of his bag, his gloves got bumped, and one went rolling down the mountain.
Oh no, we all said.
Maybe we’ll find it on the way back? I said hopefully, as he donned another pair. Who knows how far down they traveled?
Food down, water down, big puffy staying on, backpack back on, ice axe in hand.
One final push toward the summit!
Never Give Up
I knew by this time that we were 95% of the way (or more?!) and that we would all make it. I could feel it. I really don’t remember any of this section, other than my legs were getting worn down, and we were moving slowly and breathing heavily.
I can’t tell how long this section was from my Garmin data, but it felt super quick (15-20 min?)
Before I knew, I saw Peter walking on a flat spot, then dip down, taking a few downhill steps… into the summit crater!
He took his ice axe and thrust it in the snow–“This is the summit crater everyone!”
It was 6:22 AM. Nearly 5 hours of climbing!
Oh my God–we made it! With the near whiteout conditions, I could not tell how close we were, until we were literally there.
I felt shock and disbelief that we were already (ha, already… after a total of 12 hours of walking over 3 days) at the summit crater! And then intense JOY that we had reached our goal!!
We threw our packs down, along with our ice axes.
Joel and I looked at each other, and just starting laughing hysterically at all the rime built up on each other’s faces.
I gave him a “highpoint hug” and said:
We freakin did it.
We unroped, drank our icy water, and ate our frozen snacks (mine was a Snickers bar, which I dubbed a “summit Snickers”–very difficult to eat when frozen). When I reached my hand into the puffy’s pocket, I realized the pocked had been open the whole time–thankfully I didn’t lose anything!
Peter asked, “Who wants to go to the true summit, Columbia Crest?”
The others agreed.
However, Peter made Cathy-Anne stay back with guide Brandon, as he explained “You were struggling during that last section, and you need to take an extra rest here.”
Searching for Columbia Crest
The rest of us (lead guide Peter and guide Dustin, along with me, Joel, Joe, David, and Mike) set off for Columbia Crest, across the crater.
How long does it take to reach it? I asked Peter, hoping it wasn’t too far. I still had plenty of energy, but the wind was insane (I’d find out later, 35 MPH!) and the cold bit at my exposed skin (11°, we learned later).
“About 20-25 minutes.”
OK cool. We followed him through the dense cloud, and I wondered how he knew where to go.
After a few minutes, we spotted a red blob in the distance… What in the world? … A tent? We gave the tent a wide berth, while thinking holy crap, someone is in there sleeping! In avoiding walking close to the tent, we completely missed the true summit, which was right behind it!
We wandered around, and I could tell Peter was a bit confused on where to go–not that I blame him. Between the poor visibility and lack of any kind of directional markings, I would have been completely lost if it wasn’t for the guides.
Finally, we found our way up the summit crater, carefully weaving around loose rocks and ice patches.
“Here it is!” Porter exclaimed. “Columbia Crest, the highest point on Mount Rainier.”
I allowed myself to get emotional for about 30 seconds. I nearly cried, but my happiness overshadowed all other emotions (and possibly, I didn’t want frozen tears!)
I felt a huge surge of confidence, and I thought:
We did it. I can’t believe it… we freaking did it. We set this huge goal, one that seemed so difficult it bordered on impossible… and we reached our goal.
I didn’t linger too long on that sentiment, as I knew we were only halfway. I wanted to fully celebrate later on, when we completed the whole mountain.
I also felt relief, and a bit of disappointment too–I felt robbed of beautiful views, just as we were in Vermont. But, we can’t control the weather.
We took summit photos:
Shoutout to our awesome guides (2 of the 4 of them shown here):
Peter found the summit register, the notebook we all signed as proud climbers who made it to the top.
Joel signed his name, then passed it over to me:
With our celebratory photos taken, and the summit register signed, we headed back to Cathy-Anne and Brandon, where we left our backpacks. I stopped my watch and saved the most thrilling “hike” I have ever done! (map/details below)
Post-summit descent back to Ingraham Flats
We headed back into the crater, stopping first to feel the rocks–Peter told us they were warm.
Even though I knew Mount Rainier was a stratovolcano, I didn’t believe him… until I took off my glove and felt the rock.
Wow… it’s actually warm, even though the outside air temp is 11°, with 35 MPH winds. We really are on a live volcano.
That fact made me hustle a little more, to get back safely, and off of the summit. Again, I wished we could see better, as I’d love to see what the entire summit crater looks like in daylight with my own eyes.
A minute later, we saw the inhabitant of the tent, an older man, had come outside, so we greeted him.
What kind of crazy person spends the night on the summit?!?
It didn’t take long to reach the other two teammates, and we donned our backpacks and got roped up again.
I don’t remember much about this beginning section of the descent. I was still feeling high on the accomplishment of summiting, and I just followed Brandon (Peter ended up finding Brandon’s lost glove, by the way)
We finally got below the cloud level, and could see much better. It was amazing to see the route we had ascended hours ago in the dark, now in broad daylight. I had confidence that we would make it through all the dicey spots even easier in broad daylight (though the ladder still gave me a bit of pause).
We started to heat up, and had to stop to remove a layer.
I was enjoying the descent, as it was far easier to breathe, but I realized that I had some hot spots developing on my feet. Ignore ’em.
The views were absolutely stunning, but I knew we still had a long way to go before we were done, and I couldn’t lose focus now.
I began getting irritated with Joel about the rope interval. He kept getting close to me, and the rope would pool at my feet. I didn’t want to trip over it, so I eventually started to hold it in my hand so I wouldn’t trip over it. I knew Joel was doing the best he could, but I was very ready to unrope and be able to walk on my own.
Finally, our high camp at Ingraham Flats was in view! I desperately wanted a water and snack break, as this descent had been about 3 hours of walking, with 1-2 very short breaks.
We had a long slog back to Ingraham Flats… it was in view, but seemed to be a mirage that never got closer.
By the time we were about a quarter mile away, I was sweaty, my lips already sunburned, my icy hair was annoying me, and worst of all, my feet were feeling hot all over–Blisters.
Finally back at Ingraham Flats at 10:30 AM, we reunited with Lisa, who was in good spirits despite missing out on the summit. I texted Javi a quick “Made it to the summit at 6:30. Back to high camp.”
We took a quick snack/water break, then headed down the mountain another 45 minutes back to Camp Muir, where we’d take a longer lunch break.
Part-way down, we had to switch from long rope intervals to short rope intervals, and Brandon had a rope issue (it got all tangled somehow), so we ended up taking a 5-10 min break so he could fully untangle us. I was feeling a bit impatient, as I really wanted to unrope, sit down, and eat/drink/sit for awhile.
I was so happy to reach Camp Muir! I had a plan in my head before I arrived: get the harness, helmet, and crampons off! Go to the bathroom (finally!) Fill up water, and have some PB&J sandwich. Reattach the ice axe and crampons to my backpack, and get the trekking poles ready for the final trek down to the parking lot.
I still had decent energy, but my feet hurt, so I didn’t do any extra walking at Camp Muir–not even to the ridge where I could get cell signal.
A(nother) long slog back
We took about an hour break at Camp Muir (approx. 11:30-12:30)–much needed after the excitement of the past 12 hours!
After climbing upwards for 5 hours, and back down for a total of 4 (so far), it was time to get going for the final portion of our climb–the 4 mile, 5,000 foot descent. Ugh, I am dreading this.
The guides told us it could be done in 2 hours, so the main group immediately set off at a steady pace, while the 2 PhD students were way behind us from the outset.
I started to fall back from the group after 15-20 min, not because of my energy or my breathing, but my feet hurt so bad. I could tell I had a blister under each big toe, and maybe one on my left heel.
We took a few breaks, and I walked with David and Dustin for portions, but most of the 2 hours I lagged behind the group, walking alone. My feet felt like they were on fire.
I felt a little bad that my brother wouldn’t come back and walk with me, but I know he loves to walk fast, so I just plodded along the best I could.
I took zero photos in this section, further testament to how tired I was and how much my feet hurt! The same gorgeous views, but I couldn’t appreciate them fully.
The best parts were a few sections where we glissaded (slid down on our butts!) which saved my feet and legs some steps.
Two hours later… finally back at the visitors center, and then it was just a 5 minute walk back to the rental car!
We took off our boots, and I saw the red, wrinkly blisters that had given me so much trouble the past few hours. We got all our rental gear out, ready to turn in at IMG, then had to wait over an hour for Jim and Cathy-Anne to return. Joel and I were very impatient, but I was grateful to have some snacks, a carbonated flavored water, and cell signal to text the family.
At last, we headed back to IMG, turned in our rental gear, tipped and thanked the guides, signed the 2021 summit board, and said good-bye to our teammates. What an adventure!
Epilogue: We still had a lot to do… first, I mailed 2 postcards, we bought some stickers and magnets at the RMI shop, then we got Rainier pizza at the Rainier Bar & Grill (remember our plan from Gear Day? Celebratory beers and pizza!)
We had a 1.5 hour drive to our hotel in Seattle, then had to unload our vast amounts of gear and carry to our hotel room. Then, rental car return, a cranky taxi driver who reluctantly gave us a ride, then grumpily stuffing all the gear into suitcases (barely fit! such a pain) I finally got a shower, and fell into bed exhausted.
I had to get up super early to catch my flight at 7:30 (woke up at 5–so sore and so tired). No hiccups at the airport and had just enough time for breakfast before boarding. Said good-bye to Joel at Ballard’s where we ordered tasty breakfast sandwiches.
And I got to say good-bye to Mount Rainier too!
My flight to DFW was awesome–paid extra for a window seat in the exit row, miraculously got a 1 hour power nap, and had the loveliest layover in DFW (Starbucks, Mexican food, and a massage!)
I read my book and chatted with a nice lady on the flight to Greensboro, so it went fast.
FINALLY… after nearly a week of being gone, I landed in GSO and ran to my boys, who waited for me at baggage claim (wish I had a picture of our reunion!) SO good to be home!!!
Acknowledgements: I want to first thank my amazing husband (of 11 years this Saturday!), Javi, who supported me and believed in me, and held down the fort while I was gone–I am eternally grateful for your love, and this family and home we made together. I know it wasn’t easy with me gone for a week, but you handle it and make it look easy. Tu eres mi corazon.
My sons Gabe & Asher–Gabe told me days before the trip, when I confessed to being emotionally unprepared to leave them, “Mom, think about it, after Mount Rainier you’ll be so much closer to your [highpointing] goal.” And that one sentence kept me going at many challenging times during the trip. Gabe you’re wise beyond your 10 years. Asher, your joy is infectious, and though it was painful to be away for 7 days, your smile and laughter reached me, thousands of miles away, and helped me maintain a positive attitude. I hope I inspire you both to go after huge goals, and I hope you know I will always support you and believe in you. Thank you for giving me the best job in my life: mother.
My parents–who always told me “You can do anything you put your mind to.” I love you so much, and I’m truly grateful to be your daughter.
My friends Suzie, Sandra, Terry, and Melissa (among others!)–your belief in me never wavered. When I expressed my self-doubts, you pumped me back up. Your encouragement is truly appreciated, and means more than you know. I could feel you cheering me on from afar!
Brother Matt: I hope you will join me & Joel in more hikes!
And to my brother Joel: we somehow hatched this plan to stand atop the highest point in all 50 states (and the jury’s still out on Denali)–you are the best hiking partner I could ask for. Our adventures have been some of the best of my life, and I look forward to 35 (or 36?) more state highpoint journeys.
To you–if you’re still reading this–thank you for your support of my blog 🙂
Recommend: For a grand and challenging adventure, 100% YES, I recommend Mount Rainier.
Go with IMG–they were awesome! And be sure to be well-trained. This was a glorious 3 day event that I won’t ever forget!
Next Up: I hate to say this, but I don’t know what’s next. I want to get something planned, but not sure when/where. I want to bring the family along for the next one, so we’ll see! 🙂 P.S. I’d love to do another snow-covered peak in the next year or 2–maybe Mount Hood?
Suzie Haley says
Where do I BEGIN …
First of all, to quote a wise, fit, awesome woman … “you freakin did it!”
You mentioned tougher climbs awaited Team Forbes – Mt. Hood and Mt. Shasta. do those with your feet wrapped in duct tape.
while your disappointment over the fog at the summit denied the views, does that warrant doing this one AGAIN? Yikes.
Would like to point out that you were the only female in the group that made it to the Columbia Crest. Could not be prouder.
Between the whipping wind, frigid temps, difficult sleep unfathomable blisters, altitude, frozen hair, almost frozen contacts, blue bags,
the total and successful training when hills could not be accessed easily, you made it happen.
my favorite pictures: the NASA shot, the conditions board at the RMI shop, the daylight photo of the “jump” area, and your frozen head smile at the summit. You freaking did it. P.S. Please put hand and feet warmers on your Christmas list.
Vanessa Vila says
Thank you, Suzie! Love all your comments and thoughts 🙂
Not sure if Mt Shasta is tougher than Rainier–I think it’s a bit easier (7,000 ft gain vs 9,000 ft gain). And Hood is supposed to be much easier (can be done in 1 day). Will bring the duct tape for sure!
And yes, not sure if Rainier will happen a 2nd time, we’ll see!
As for the warmers… the sad part is that I brought plenty with me for the trip, but to save weight, I only brought 1 of each up the mountain! Next time I know to have plenty, at least 1 per night.
THANK YOU again for being an amazing, supportive, caring friend.