8.3 miles of hiking • 4000' elevation gain •
What a trip!
This exploratory Mazamas climb was lead by Mike Levis with assistant Walter Keutel.
First off, if you do this climb, make sure you start a beer pool for afterwards, based on whenever someone utters the words, "Is this a trail?", "This looks like a trail..." or "This might be a trail." Perhaps even every time someone falls down or utters, "Are we on track?"
The route seems straightforward enough on paper - with a car shuttle we started near the Nisqually entrance of Mt Rainier National Park, intending to go up the park boundary "trail" to the summit, and then back down via Lake Allen. Easier said than done.
Almost the entire route was bushwhacking/route finding through steep terrain, with some class 3 and 4 scrambling thrown in there to boot. I spent many hours on my butt, using the technique never taught to me in BCEP, called the "butt slide". Also widely used by all, the veggie belay, in which any and all vegetation became fair game to keep you from tumbling down the mountain side. The bear grass provided excellent handholds on our descent. Thank you bear grass, for saving my ass.
Sadly, in the end, we had no Wow!, only OW! as the clouds stubbornly stayed over top of the mountain, and it started lightly drizzling on our descent.
I cannot stress enough how difficult and steep this climb was, but even though I slightly feared for my life half of the day, I still thought it was a great experience and I got to collectively practice route finding skills using both gps and a paper map. We passed many piles of fresh bear scat, and saw many trees with telltale claw marks, but didn't actually see any of the beasts themselves. We saw a large family of goats, and happened upon what must be the goat barber shop near the summit, because the entire hillside was filled with discarded goat hair. My photos don't even begin to show the struggle, the fear, I was so often just trying not to fall down the mountain and didn't snap many photos of any of the hairy situations we got ourselves in and out of.
Would I do it again? Absolutely! Now, time to go ice my knee and relax with a beer.