July 29, 2013
I had a chance to catch up with Greg Vernovage after his last Rainier climb. Yes, Greg managed to get a Mount Rainier climb in between his Denali and Bolivia climbs. It was a busy weekend on the mountain so I thought I’d pick his brain a little.
Tye: Sounded pretty busy up high on your climb over the weekend – how busy was it?
Greg: There were definitely a lot more people on the mountain than I typically see, but it’s not like we didn’t see it coming – we’re right in the thick of the season and a July weekend with nice weather is always a popular time on the hill.
Tye: You guys managed to get through that tough section and make it to the top and back down in a reasonable time.
Greg: Yeah, about 5 hours from the flats to the summit, respectable on a busy day.
Tye: How did you get by everyone?
Greg: When I got out of the tent, there were already people on the Cleaver, but the guides and I had chatted the night before about the crowds and I think we had a good plan going into the day.
Tye: What was the plan?
Greg: Beautiful, busy July weekend on Mount Rainier means we gotta think about the route and the team you’re climbing with. With those variables in mind we figured out what we thought was a good departure time and what we needed to do to have success.
Tye: That tough section has been a bit of a bottleneck this season – how did it go for you guys?
Greg: It is a fun section on the route this year, but can jam things up. We just stuck with our plan and worked as efficiently as we could. It’s a good section for guiding, but I can see how it could get a little backed up on a busy weekend.
Tye: Why are some groups slower than other groups in that section?
Greg: Million dollar question. There are a few obstacles to work through and there are a number of ways to get through them, but knowing that the ladder and fixed line were up there really helped with formulating our plan, credit the good communication amongst all the guides on the mountain and the three guide services as a whole. From there, CJ, Dallas and Heidi and I had a couple of good chats about ways to work efficiently though that section and at the end of the day it all worked out.
Tye: I bet the Cleaver was pretty packed for the bulk of the day then eh?
Greg: Oh yeah, we were around people all morning.
Tye: How did you you handle the other teams?
Greg: The Cleaver is a pretty good time to assess the teams who will be around you during the climb. I watch how teams handle the rocks that are loose and the spacing of their rope and how efficient they are while traveling. I talk to most of the groups and find out how they are moving and if they are aware of the route. The bottomline is that it’s in everybody’s best interest to communicate and work together.
Tye: Good climb all in all?
Greg: Hell yeah! We got the summit and had a great day!