August 1, 2011
Wonder is a funny thing. Take a mountain for example – you can look at it a 1000 times and see one thing, but on that 1001st turn you notice something different. As mountain climbers & guides, we have the privilege of the constant renewal of wonder. And over a five day span this summer, a group of Japanese film makers showed myself and two friends a new mountain which we had all climbed many times before. We were to climb the Fuhrer Finger route and film as we went.
As we reached our camps higher on the mountain we started to look at the mountain through their lens. I found myself saying out-loud, “this is absolutely amazing.” The Wilson and Nisqually glaciers, as they churn down the mountain, make a person feel so incredibly small.
By the time we reached the summit on day 3 everyone was quite tired yet very excited. Our plan was to reach the summit, set up camp then attempt to get into the steam caves. After a short nap we shook ourselves awake once again and began exploring, looking for an access point into the caves. The documentary filmmakers really wanted to demonstrate that Mt. Rainier was an active volcano and more importantly that the mountain was alive. Once we found a possible access point I was lowered down into the cave. I was filled with a mixture of hesitation and excitement. I was worried about being lowered into what I felt was the bottom of the earth, but excited to see what might be down there.
The warmth of the steam was instant. We would end up spending two and half hours in the cave, everyone wearing fleeces and hard shells. Deep in the cave we found a nalgene bottle, unfrozen. We roughly gauged one of the steam vents at 45C! I have included a handful of pictures because the words won’t do it justice.
Check out the full photo album here, and while you’re on the facebook page go ahead and click that ‘like button’.