Gibraltar Rock (left) and Cathedral Rocks
Our last day on the Mountain dawned spectacularly! Cloudless sky, no wind, and warmer temperatures. The blue of the sky in these photos is unaltered (no filters, no Photoshop)...I have literally never seen a sky so blue! What was supposed to be our morning on the summit of Rainier was perfect...except that we weren't at the summit! We were up early, had a quick breakfast and then got geared up for glacier travel. We stepped into harnesses, strapped on crampons, donned helmets and wore avalanche transceivers. (At least we got to use all of our gear at least once!) Then we received some instruction on roped group travel, roped into groups of three, grabbed our ice axes and set off across the Cowlitz glacier.
After about a 30 minute trek and a short climb, we were at Cathedral Gap and the views were amazing.
Mts. Adams, Hood and St. Helens (left to right)
Little Tahoma Peak
From our vantage point at Cathedral Gap I was finally able to see the upper mountain and the edge of the crater at the top of Mt. Rainier! The guides also pointed out our intended route to the summit.
Cathedral Rocks, Disappointment Cleaver (right) and the crater rim (top center snow)
This would have to be our summit photo...for this trip
After about 30 minutes at the Gap, we started back down to Camp Muir to pack up and make our decent to Paradise. The trip down was much quicker, much sunnier and much warmer than the trip up! But it was still exhausting...we post-holed into more then knee-deep snow nearly all the way! At least this day we could see around us and look back at that majestic mountain!
Starting down the Muir Snowfield
The Mountain was definitely out!
We even got to do a little seat glissading at a couple of points on the way down. A much faster and easier way to travel!
We rode on our backsides for a good 80-100 feet!
We were down to Paradise around mid-day. After a drive down to IMG in Ashford to return rental gear, we had a final team meeting and said our goodbyes. All in all, it was an incredible trip and adventure. Jack and I are already talking about a return trip - in the summer this time, when our chances of having good weather and no avalanche conditions are higher! We are both very blessed to have such wonderful wives and children who enabled us to have such an amazing time celebrating our 40th birthdays! I think they even want to come with us when we return*!
*Note from Anna- to visit Seattle, not to climb the mountain!!