October 5, 2011
Snow is falling at Paradise on Mt. Rainier bringing another summer to a screeching halt. It never fails, the summer flies by before we even know it started… climbers come and go and guides pack, climb, unpack & repeat. Before we know it climbers and guides alike are all gone, back to work, or off on a fall rock climbing adventure before ski season officially begins.
Let’s have a look at how this summer went here in the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest:
We had solid success on Rainier this summer even though things got off to a rough start from a weather standpoint. We had some lower than normal freezing levels and a wetter than average May & June. The good news is that the weather didn’t stop people from getting to the top – it just made things a little tougher, colder, wetter, and maybe hindered the views a little which in all honesty made for some bigger than normal smiles on the faces of climbers having earned their summit in some less than ideal conditions! July and August were great months especially since the snow stuck around a lot longer than usual making for easier walking on the lower trails. September was great, as George always says, but only lasted 2 weeks this year. Storm after storm rolled in bringing with them various forms of precipitation and winds, which at times, topped out at over 100mph making climbing almost impossible. All that said, our number one goal (safety) stood strong; we didn’t have a single serious incident all season long.
We ran several new programs inside Mt. Rainier National Park this summer, enjoying summits of Mt. Rainier via the Fuhrer Finger route as well as a guided ascent of Little Tahoma – two great options for anybody who has summitted Rainier in the past and is looking for a new or different objective while still enjoying the beauty and challenge of Mt. Rainier.
On the guide front, Josh McDowell took this year’s prize (Presented by Outdoor Research of course) for the most days on the mountain with 78 days. He also holds the record for the most bacon consumed this summer with close to 700 slices and is also the reigning pancake making champion – the Triple Crown on Rainier.
Up in the North Cascades we ran several trips on Mt. Baker as well as a ton of private climbs on mountains like Torment, Forbidden, Eldorado, Shuksan, Sharkfin Tower, including great routes like Fischer Chimneys and the Torment-Forbidden Traverse among others. Climbing in the North Cascades is a popular next step for our climbers after a successful climb on Mt. Rainier. We’re able to set up smaller private groups allowing our climbers and guides to reunite on other, often more technical, climbing objectives.
Any way you look at it we had a great summer. Everybody worked hard scheduling and outfitting our 50 plus guides & 1000 plus climbers on over 100 climbs, on numerous routes and mountains over the course of the last 5 ½ months.
We’re out of white gas, the tents need to be repaired, the boots need to be de-funked, and the hot chocolate is running dangerously low which means it’s time to take a breath and a quick break then get fired up about next summer – it’ll be here before we know it.