Sunday, July 11, 2010


It has been a few weeks since the climb and I have had time to reflect, would I do this again? I am not so sure. As much as I would like to be a mountaineer, I don't think it is for me. It was amazing, something I can't fully describe in all this writing, something you won't truly be able to understand unless you experience it yourself (it is different than backpacking or rock climbing. I will continue to engage in these two activities). I mean I grew up with mountain climbing. I climbed Mt. St. Helens at 14, but this mountain, it was a beast. It was extreme. It was and always will be life or death. It is the most physically and mentally demanding thing I ever done and while we did not summit, it is an experience that few people get to partake. It is an experience that will live with me for the rest of my life. Lastly, it is an experience that made every other stress in life miniscule. The mountain grounded me.

Thank you Mom, Jerry and Tonya for being a part of my team and thank you for your encouragement, support and life lessons.

A special thanks to all my friends, family and colleagues who supported me in this endeavor. I did not make the financial deadline to move in August and I am still working hard to scrounge up the funds to go in January, but every little penny contributed and earned help get me there. Should you decide to visit The Netherlands, we(Pat and I) open our arms with a wide welcome and will try our best to accomodate you in any way we can.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Descent

It was disappointing to turn around. I think we all badly wanted to summit, but we were also tired, stressed and we knew safety was first and foremost. The descent was difficult. Living in the corn belt with no hills or stairs to run up and down, my quads were burning from the severe downhill. Additionally, with every jolting step down, my stomach would shake and rattle making for the perfect cocktail of vomit. I had to take it slow with 30 second breaks every 2 minutes, which elevated my feeling of wusness. The rope was harder to control going down. You needed to make sure there wasn't so much slack that it got caught under the persons boots in front of you, but you also needed to make sure it was tight enough to ensure, should they fall, they wouldn't have a long way to go.

Within a half hour of turning around, a few white outs kicked in bringing about a feeling of lunacy as you watched the person in front of you and everything around, including sense of direction, suddenly disappear. The white outs forced us to break and hope they would quickly roll over, which they did.

Along the way, my mom pointed out a crevasse we nearly crossed on our way up and the hole where someone had punched through. Thank god my mom navigated us in the right direction.

The mood down was grumpy and short. It was stressful, two amateurs on the rope and one expert, who was worried if something happened to her, where would Tonya and I be left? However, the mood lifted, 2 hours into the descent like the dense fog that kept rolling through, when my mom took a break. She set her pack down and looped in her ice axe to one of the straps on her pack to prevent it from sliding down the mountain. She unharnessed telling us she needed to go pee. Bathroom on a mountain is bare ass to the wind. She walked up the mountain and to the side about 20 feet above us. We could faintly hear her urine trickle into the snow and suddenly a commotion followed by, "Oh shit!" Tonya and I looked to the right only to see a steamer speeding down the mountain with my mom trailing right behind it, her pants down and blue bag in hand trying to catch the turd. On the mountain, similar to a dog, you are required to pick up your poop with a blue bag. The turd finally came to a steaming halt and she caught her excrement. We were all in stitches over the ordeal.

An hour later and 500 feet from camp I could see my stepdad in his bright red jacket waiting for us. He waved vigorously and I waved back. Tears nearly came to my eyes as I saw someone familiar and we were almost back to an area of comfort. The winds were really high, at least 50mph, which means the summit was twice the velocity. The men we passed from Canada asked if we had seen their two friends. The answer was,"no". My mom asked if they had a stove, pad, sleeping bag or any other gear to protect them. Their response was, "no, they wanted to keep things light." At this point their friends had been climbing for nearly 12 hours, which is the most amount of time it should take to go up to summit and come down to high camp. We looked up at the mountain and all other teams we had crossed paths with also turned around. There was no sight of their friends.

Tonya, my mom and I unroped and went to our tents to rest for an hour. The winds howled and it felt like our tent was about to be lifted and thrown across the mountain. Tonya and I both sunk into our sleeping bags with a sigh of relief. We apologized and giggled at any of the nasty things we may have said to each other during the climb. After a moments rest we packed up our belongings.

My stepdad had planned for us to go over steamboat prow (an alternative to the traverse back). I was pissed. My legs were tired and I didn't want to climb up the side of a ledge with a 60lb pack where a little slip could toss you into one of Winthrop Glacier's crevasses. The snow was slushy like "sugar" as my mom called it. You couldn't dig an ice axe in to save your life. The reason we were taking this route as opposed to the traverse; we didn't have to rope up and later I would find out Jerry's ultimate plan, to glisade (slide down a mountain on your butt) most of the way down. He figured this would be a treat to us after all the hard work.

We started up Steamboat around 12pm. I moaned and groaned as I climbed the ledge, my legs periodically sinking upto the knees and my hands struggling to find a hold on the rocks. We only had 6-12 inches to place our feet on the vertical trail, which was quite nerve wracking. And pushing and pulling myself up with a 60lb pack made my stomach hurt more. After about 30-40min we were at the top. I was happy to be there and the views were a reward. It seemed we were at eye level with the summit and to look down upon high camp was like looking at an archaelogical google earth, a map of where tents have been dug out and revealed and the holes of where dwellings once existed. For some reason this spot above high camp brought a smile to our faces. We were like tourists at the end of a trip getting our last token snap shots before it was all over. We looked up at the summit with pride. At about this time we also saw the two climbers who had been missing emerge. They were walking extremely slow and sat just above a massive crevasse. We think they had no idea what was below them and we believe one of the men was injured as he didn't move from his spot. The other man continued down a thin line above the crevasse.

We walked to the tracks of other glisaders. There were two slides. This was our ride down. My mom and Jerry refreshed mine and Tonya's memory about how to control ourselves going down this 3,000 foot slide. Use your ice axe like a rutter. Hold it across your chest and dig it in when you want to slow down, move it side to side to guide your direction. Jerry went first and I followed behind, next was Tonya and then my mom. We would later find out my mom who is 5'2" and 115lbs was a rocket. She liked to go fast and do what she likes to call bumper cars. She came quick and from behind and pushed us with her feet to keep us all going. We were laughing hystarically. At one point we gathered so much snow beneath us we were riding a snow wave, we were the avalanche coming down the mountain. When our track would run out we would search the mountain for other tracks or try to create a new one. It was fun, exciting and my pants were filled with snow. My mom turned to me during this adventure and said, "I know climbing is stressful. There are so many lives at stake, but this aside from the views is what makes it worth it."

It took us about 40 minutes to get to basecamp. As we arrived a chopper flew above us to high camp. We believe they were going to rescue the men. I changed clothes and Tonya washed her face in the river. I dreaded the next 5.5 miles of climbing up and over rocks and logs and sinking into mud. I couldn't wait to get back to the car.

Once we were in the trees everything smelled of cedar. I miss that smell. The midwest doesn't have any recognizable, refreshing and comforting smells that I have noticed. Almost to the car, my legs were tired. My knee was killing me (an injury left from my bike accident in NYC), my mom jogged up to me and said, "race you to the car!"I couldn't believe she had the energy to run. I was ready to crash. I passed her on the offer and we chatted the last 1000 feet. At the car we changed out of our sweaty and dirt soiled clothes and headed out to a bar where we ordered burgers, beers and nachos. It was more food than our now downsized stomachs could handle, but it was worth it... every little bite.

Steamboat Prow (we had to climb to the top).
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View of Camp Schurman from Prow
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Mom and Jerry at top Prow with summit in background
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Mom and I
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Mom, Tonya and I
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Mom, Tonya and I
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The Climb

It was 7pm and trying to get sleep before 11pm felt like trying to take a nap in Yankee stadium during a homerun hit. The group from Colorado were yelling back and forth across camp. "HEY do you have water?! YEAH! I have water! Anybody want food?!" and then there were the deeper bathroom conversations "My parents never believed I would become a mountaineer and these guys I use to date..." Tonya and I tried to cover our heads with clothes and our sleeping bags to drown out the sounds. I put myself into meditative thinking. I kept reciting the feeling of laying on a quiet sun soaked beach in Rio where the ocean rhythmically hits the shore. At about 9pm I believe I finally fell asleep.

The alarm on my watch never went off, but Tonya was awake at 11pm and getting ready. We changed into our clothes (I was already half dressed as I thought it would be quicker to sleep in most of my climbing clothes). We weren't hungry, instead of cooking oatmeal, I took a few bites of my almond coconut energy bar. I used the out house, brushed my teeth, double checked our packs (Tonya was carrying additional water and the camp stove, I had the sleeping bag and shovel and we both had additional clothes such as various types of gloves or mits, hand warmers we could break and put inside our gloves, balaklava's, hats, warm jackets). Our packs were about 20lbs, a blessing in comparrison to our 60lb packs. My mom would carry an extra sleeping pad, wands (way finding poles with flags that beared her initials "KB". These would be placed along our path should the weather turn and we got caught in a white out), anchor (metal rod that could be stuck into the ice to help anchor us should we need to pull someone out of a crevasse). At about 11:45 we hiked up to my mom's tent. She wasn't awake yet, this was a surprise. She is more anal than I am about time. Her alarm also did not go off. As we waited for her to get ready the extremely calm night was picking up wind. There were very few and still clouds in the sky, but soon they would awake and rapidly begin a race towards their destination. As we stood at high camp we could see the lights of a city that most likely resided at sea level. Above us we witnessed ant sized amber lights slowly move towards the summit, the climbers left a few hours before us. By the time we got our waist and chest harnesses on and were hooked up to the ropes it was 12:45am. I was getting pretty cold. The tips of my fingers were beginning to feel like half frozen meat, but I figured everything would begin to cook once we began climbing.

It was dark, we could only see what our headlamps allowed us to see. Generally there is a solid line of steps going up a mountain from the previous days of climbers. Unfortunately, the steps had all been destroyed by the climbers who came down yesterday. What we had to work with were hundreds of iced over bumps and divets that didn't allow for a single solid step. It was more of a danger than a help so we stepped off to the side to kick our campons in. Initially I was walking duck footed and counting 1.. 2... dig the ice axe. 1.. 2.. dig the ice axe. After a few hours of climbing duck footed my calves were fatigued. I shifted my climbing strategy to side ways steps. I kept thinking to myself, kick one foot in front of the other and I again began my 1 & 2 count. I didn't want to miss a beat with placing that ice axe, it could be my saving grace should I slip (every step felt like it could be that exact disaster) and I didn't want to trip over my crampons, because that could cause an ankle break. Pace was also a struggle, my mom set the pace and Tonya and I had to follow. The climb was constant communication to let the person ahead know if they should slow down. If you slow down and the person in front doesn't you could jerk the person in front off their feet and if they are going too fast, they will drag you, both of which are dangerous situations. After an hour we passed 4 out of 6 climbers from Canada who were on their way down. We conversed with them for a second to make sure the conditions were okay. They told us they had altitude sickness. Their two other friends continued on.

After a few hours of climbing my mom suddenly stopped. The wind had picked up and it was snowing. Each step she took was instantly covered by a breeze of white dust. I followed the direction of her rope. It was the only way I could tell where she was headed. I asked what was wrong. She said, "I have no idea where we are supposed to go. Do you see the steps anywhere? I know there are very large crevasse's right around here." Tonya, my mom and I immediately shined our head lamps towards the snow. We walked slowly to the left, to the right and there was absolutely no sign human life once passed through there. After 20 minutes, my mom said, "this is it. We need to go this way." Later I would find out her only clue to direction was a faint circular indentation in the snow. She figured with her 20 years of climbing experience it must be the remnants of an ice axe. As we forged ahead my mom placed wands. When Tonya passed the last wand my mom placed she would yell, "WAND!" and my mom would place another. When we got to a crevasse my mom crossed two wands forming an "x", a symbol of danger. We took very few breaks the longest being 10 minutes, just enough time to put handwarmers in, put on a balaklava and quickly eat an energy bar. After passing the crevasse (around 12,000 feet) I could feel the oxygen thin. My breathing got heavy. My steps got slower and I felt like I was going to throw up. A team of about six were coming down, they said they didn't like the conditions. We continued.

At 13,000 feet I wasn't sure if I could continue. Everytime I needed to yell to my mom to slow down or hold on I felt as though I was hyperventilating. Tears rolled down my face under the balaklava as I couldn't catch my breath long enough to feel like I was getting air. I hoped nobody could tell I was crying under my breath as I tried to yell/explain to my mom that I couldn't breathe. I was slightly panicked and frustrated. My mom asked, "do you know how to pressure breathe?" I responded, with an exasperated, "no". She yelled back, "take a deep breath in and a deep breath out." Her advice helped calm me down so I could catch a breath and get back into a breathing pattern. I felt like a major wuss, but I knew I wasn't one. I knew I could do the climb. I was strong, but I felt incredibly vulnerable. I couldn't seem to control my emotions. My mood was turning for the worst and I was getting bitter with each step mainly, because I couldn't breathe and we had hit six inches of fresh powder; I couldn't sink my crampons into the ice and all I could think of was falling and that was it, I was pulling the whole team down with me. Tonya kept giving me words of encouragement. "You are doing great Fawn. Just keep it up." At 13,300 feet (6 hours of climbing. We were making extremely good time), the clouds were quickly rolling in. My mom asked if I wanted to continue. I could see the summit. It was right above us and I swear if my arms were a couple hundred feet longer I could touch it. I pointed to a turn in the path that was 500 feet ahead. I said, "lets get to that turn and assess the weather and how I feel. We are so close." My mom agreed and just as quick as she agreed she said, "I think we should turn around. We are headed into a white out. The clouds headed this way are both white out and 100 mph winds."

Steps we encountered. There should only be two trails of steps. One for up and one for down (photo taken on rest day.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rest Day

I woke up around 2am to nausea. I sat in the tent with a ball in my throat and stomach. I was going to throw up. I quickly tried to drink water, but it was difficult to drink enough since it was literally as cold as ice. I was dehydrated. I realized sitting up helped my stomach. In an attempt to go back to sleep I rolled up my foam sleeping pad and placed whatever clothing I could find under it. This would prop my head up. I hoped and prayed to god I was not getting altitude sickness.

At 6:30am I woke up. My stomach was feeling quite a bit better. I unzipped the tent. It was a perfect day. The sun was shining. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. I looked up at the summit with excitement to see the climbers. It was difficult to spot them, but if you looked hard enough you could see a line of small dots moving slowly.

By 7am Tonya woke up. She said, my lips feel swollen. How do I look? When I saw her I couldn't help but laugh. Her lips were three times their normal size. She asked what she looked like. I said, you know that uh actress.. what's her name?... Joan Rivers! She said, I expected you to say any other actress but Joan Rivers. Tonya's lips were swollen from not putting enough sunscreen on them. My nose hurt. I would later find out that I should have put sunscreen chapstick on my under nose from my upper lip up. I had no idea the under side of my nose was blistered and burned (in a panic to not have a scabby nose for the wedding, I would buy several forms of moisturizers and healing ointments). We prepared oatmeal and coffee for breakfast. Tonya had brought a small Bialetti stove top espresso maker with freshly ground espresso. It was wonderful to have good coffee after all the hard work. The only thing, she lost the filter for the maker at basecamp. In desperation to have this one treat, we contemplated our best options. Tonya suggested a clean sock or shirt, but those are valuable items on a mountain whose weather changes quickly and drastically. I suggested using one of the million and one plastic bags my parents put our things in (everything in our packs had bags to keep the goods dry. The number of plastic bags became a joke on the trip. Tonya must of had 50. She looked like a bag lady). We quickly tore pieces from a plastic bag and used our spork to poke holes. Coffee brewing was a slow process and we were probably ingesting loads of toxins from the plastic and the dyes, but who cares, we had good coffee.

8am my mom had me put on crampons (spikes you clamp on to the bottom of boots. They are used for climbing up ice) to practice how to use them for that nights climb. We had to find spots that were icy enough. The spot I found was the most trafficked area in camp, where the loose snow had been trampled away and all that was left was ice. This was the trail to the outhouse. I walked up and down the trail trying out different techniques. I could walk duck footed or side ways. The different ways of climbing would help rest and work different muscle groups. The crampons were bulky, stiff and awkward to walk in. My mom warned me that it is easy to break an ankle in them so just be careful and pay attention to how I am walking.

9am we chose a sunny spot on some flat rocks and melted snow for water. We shoveled snow from areas that appeared to be untouched by boot or urine. We not only needed to hydrate ourselves for the day, but we needed to prepare enough water for our meals and our climb. Tonya and I lucked out a bit since a couple who were going to climb that day decided not to. Their feet were covered in blisters. Instead of hauling water out with them, they gave us a 3 liter bladder that was half full. After 2 hours of melting snow our bottles and water bladders were loaded. We had about 6 liters of water.

10am we had a visit from the forest service chopper. They dropped off a few guys. They were what is called back country carpenters. Their job is to build and rennovate high camp ranger stations. After they are finished they are picked up and dropped off to snowboard down the mountain. Today they were assessing the station at Schurman. The chopper spent the next couple hours dropping off supplies. We were not allowed to go near our tent until they were finished (our tent just happened to be in the perfect zone for getting blown about and a potential hazard for supplies to fall). Tonya and I were itching to take a nap, but we were held captive on top of the rocks. We crossed our fingers the tent would not get blown away from the wind of the chopper.

11am While we sat waiting to go back to our tent. The teams who climbed to summit started to appear. The first 2 were brothers. One from Yakima and one from New York. They looked exhausted and happy to be down. At the same time you could sense their pride. An hour later the other teams began to arrive. There were 17 people in all. They were from the Colorado Climbing Club. They were screaming, hooting and hollaring almost to annoyance. These were the people who yelled at us the night before.

3pm Tonya and I finally got to go back to our tent. At this point we had drank a lot of water and needed to melt more snow. We cooked dinner, which was probably one of the most god awful meals. We wanted something light and easy on our stomachs so we thought soup would be the perfect solution. Tonya had lipton cream of chicken soup and some rice noodles with lemongrass. We also wanted to get rid of some weight in our packs so we used up our last package of chicken chunks, mixed it altogether and could barely stomach it. Me made a side dish of dried herbed mashed potatoes. They were flavorless. I told Tonya we needed to eat the food. We needed the energy. Her reply, I can't eat it if it makes me nauseous. We ended up throwing out a lot of food, which we would also have to pack out.

7pm we tried to hit the hay. However, we were right next to the shitter (we joked about how we dug an igloo for 2 hours only to end up next to the shitter) and people were lined up to tim buk tu talking loudly as they waited to use it. The Colorado Climbing Club partied all night. Yelling back and forth across camp. I wanted to ring their necks. If we were lucky, we got an hour or two of sleep.

Melting snow for water
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Backcountry Carpenters dropping supplies off
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Monday, June 21, 2010

The climb to high camp :-)

Last night the wind was howling and rain pounded on our tents like a million birds hitting a window. I wondered if we would be able to climb the next day.

I woke up in the morning to hear from my mom she had thrown up all night. She didn't think it was from altitude, but rather stress from my wedding. Not to discount the stress of my wedding, but I think it was probably some sort of flu. She told me she did not want to stop us from climbing. She had planned to climb this mountain with me and she was going to regardless of how she was feeling.

Tonya and I made some oatmeal for ourselves with gogi berries and these little seeds that help hydrate you for long periods of time. I threw on some sunscreen and warm clothes. My mom tried to check the weather on my iphone, but it was a no-go. At 10am we were all packed up. It was sunny and clear. As we began scaling the nearly vertical slope the winds swooped us off our feet and we had to anchor ourselves by digging our feet and ice axes in. The wind was boss. We kicked steps into the mountain since the steps kicked by previous climbers were either ruined by those who came down the mountain or they were covered by snow. The snow was slushy or as my mom referred to it as "sugar", which led us to sink up to our knees with every other step and pulling oneself up and out took three times as much energy as kicking steps. It was exhausting and frustrating. I could only imagine what my stepfather was going through since he was double my weight. Although, Tonya led and kicked most of the way, her steps were either too far apart or there were too many steps and holes from previous climbers, I couldn't follow her. My mom switched places with me after a few hours to give me a break from the kicking and while her steps were perfectly spaced apart (the smaller the steps are spaced apart the easier it is on your muscles), I just kept sinking. Eventually she and Tonya's steps joined forces, from there things became a little easier. We passed about 15 climbers who were on their way back down the mountain, none of which summitted due to altitude sickness or high winds. All I could do was hope that we would be the lucky ones to summit.

After four hours in we were famished and stopped for a bite to eat. I had prepared peppered turkey on rice bread with provolone and dijon mustard. The bread was dry and had soaked up all the dijon and since we were dehydrated it felt like we were stuffing our mouths with gauze, any little drop of saliva was captured by the bread.

At 6 hours we finally made it over the hump and towards the traverse to high camp (around 9300 feet); Schurman. At the hump we were able to look down onto Emmons glacier, which is known for crevasse country. While it was mostly blanketed with snow, each little divet in the snow represented a crevasse that had not yet opened. There were hundreds of divets and at least a dozen large crevasses with their mouths wide open. Jerry said, we better rope up since these crevasses can swallow a school bus. The trail we were headed on was about 12 inches wide with a drop off to Emmons. One slip and you may not return. What made the climb real was two things: Tonya saying, use your ice axe religiously or you could be a goner. And my mom standing at the edge of the trail with a gigantic crevasse behind her. It was ready to swallow. The ropes would tie us all together in case one of us should slip we could dig our axes in and also pull someone out of a crevasse. We clipped into our chest and waist harnesses and Jerry took the lead, while my mom took the back. Forty minutes later we were to high camp.

Schurman was gorgeous. To the left we were looking straight up at the summit. We were so close so very close to the top of the mountain I grew up with. She was so powerful. You could see the steps of the people who had gone up that day. To look up and see what we had ahead of us was both overwhelming and awe inspiring. To the right of where we stood were hundreds upon hundreds of peaks in the cascade mountain range. We were above the clouds. As a kid you spend your time on a swing set trying to reach the clouds, as a 30 year old adult I had climbed through and above them.

It took us 7 hours to get to high camp and our work was not yet complete. My mom was feeling really ill. We unroped, my mom melted snow for water and Tonya and I instantly grabbed a shovel and ice saw. We needed to create a wind shelter for our tents. Winds on rainier could get up to 100+ mph. At this moment the winds were calm. When we arrived there was already a shelter half dug. We started in on it. We needed to make a space wide enough to fit Tonya's large round North Face tent and a space long enough to fit my mom and Jerry's long narrow mountaineering tent. We sawed blocks of snow and ice about 3 feet deep and stacked the blocks creating a 6 foot tall wall. After 2 hours of sawing, digging and shoveling we thought we were finished. It was 8pm and we needed to get our tents set up before the sun went down or winds picked up. We also needed to get to bed as we were supposed to get up at 11pm to climb.

The tents did not fit.

We spoke to the ranger. He pointed out another spot for Tonya and I. Forty minutes of shoveling later we had very rough and very low walls. They just barely covered the sides of our tent. The snow walls were incredibly soft. We were also getting yelled at by a woman in the tent across from us. She told us to quit chitter chattering and shoveling was disturbing her sleep. Her attitude was uncalled for. Regardless, we stopped what we were doing and hoped large winds would not come.

By 10pm we finally ate. It was not going to be possible to climb tonight. We were too exhausted. Part of me was excited for a day of rest, but part of me wondered if we would get to summit. What if the weather turned terrible tomorrow evening?

The video below shows some of our climb— a rest at 7,710 feet, shoveling and sawing a wind shelter and the magnifiscent sun set just after our 10pm dinner.

Getting ready for our ascent to high camp
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Towards high camp we shall go
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Around 7700 feet
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Traverse to high camp
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Crevasse mom stood right in front of
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Mom and Tonya roped up
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Jerry roping up at traverse
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Trail to high camp (Schurman) & Rainier summit
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Looking down at trail to high camp from Schurman
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First snap shot at Schurman (Jerry led us along the trail to camp)
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Camp Schurman (high camp)
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Tonya and I digging/building a wind shelter
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Wind shelter almost complete (or so we thought)
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Just before bed
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Little Tahoma
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Made it to base camp!

We made it to basecamp after a 2.5 hour hike where we had to traverse through large rocks and debris, which were the ruins of a massive and destructive flood. Making it across creeks by way of stumbling or hopping from rock to rock with a 60-80lb pack was only part of the difficulty. The weight of the pack grudging down on my hips only made for an intense burn and stiffness that made me wish I could inject my hips with lube and get them moving like a well oiled piece of machinery. Instead, our legs were moving slow. At 5000 feet we were out of the rocks and into continuous snow and uphill narrow and winding trails. When we got to basecamp at 6000 feet we were dumped into what the rangers call a meadow. It is really an open expansive field of snow. It is breathtaking. As you look up from the meadow you are overwhelmed by the beauty and grandiose of mt rainier. It started to drizzle when we arrived. We quickly took out shovels to clear a flat patch for our tents and dig a 3 foot by 2 foot wide by 2 foot deep hole that our vestibule would be stretched over. This would provide a place to put our feet when we climb into the tent thus preventing any snow from getting in our actual tent. We could also put our packs in the hole as well as cook.

After the tent was set up we were lucky enough to have a glacial river nearby. Instead of melting snow for water we were able to climb down a snow bank and pump water directly to our bottles. At this point, we were starving and hadn't eaten anything since the a.m. Once we were done with pumping water (took about 20min), we climbed back up the snow bank to start the stove and eat freeze dried food. The menu tonight: veggie medely pasta with packaged chicken and mole rice. The pasta and rice turned out aldente and a little powdery. To drink; we made some apple cider. Our stomachs were now full and we are ready to climb into our sleeping bags to warm up our icecicle toes. As I finish up this letter, it is probably around 30 degrees here. I shall leave now to play cards with Tonya who would rather play frisbee if we had one.. Haha. We must get up at 7am to pack up camp and start a 6 hour climb to camp schurman, a much more intense and difficult climb, specifically due to the altitude. Tonight we are hoping to acclimate a bit.

Getting ready to head up the trail to basecamp
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Trail to basecamp
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Our tents at basecamp
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Cooking under vestibule
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Checking in at the ranger station!

Hey Guys,

So I tried to communicate with Pat as I began the journey. Last Sunday, I sent him the below images (taken from iphone) of us checking in at the ranger station. Unfortunately, Pat's computer died when I sent the images and gave a base camp status.

"Just checked in. Currently only one in three have sumitted in the last 4 days. It's raining and fairly cold. The ranger is calling it Juneuary."

Bottom photo clockwise: Jerry (my stepdad), Kathy (my mom), Me (Fawn) and Tonya (my bestfriend)

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