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Mount Rainier/Disappointment Cleaver

I had met all team members before the climb on two mandatory conditioner hikes: Mt. Si and Camp Muir, so I knew I had a strong and fit team. Originally I had planned to do the Emmons a week earlier, but had to cancel due to weather. I rescheduled but we did not have permits for the DC, so I proposed to attempt this route in one shot. Given that we had trained together and that I knew my team members this was a reasonable approach, but I would not recommend it otherwise.

We left around 4:30pm from Paradise, which was about an hour later than what I had had in mind. It took us 3h45min to Camp Muir where we took a lengthy break to melt water and have dinner. I was a bit surprised by how long it took us (5 people) to melt water for all of us with 2 stoves and 1 filter. I had been hoping to leave Camp Muir before the RMI crowds, but as it turned out we left right at the same time. Unfortunately, one of the team members lost his crampon about 100 yards into the climb, so by the time he had put them back on, almost all RMI teams had past us. Over the course of the next 6 hours we managed to pass about 6-8 RMI teams, but we never made it back to the front of the line.

The route was in excellent shape - a well established boot path. We short roped climbing up to Cathedral Pass and on the Cleaver. There was a short ladder crossing going across Ingraham Flats as well as an open crevasse which we jumped across (easier on the way up than on the way down). Above the Cleaver, the route turns sharp right towards the Emmons, then goes uphill in switchbacks with several options which as far as I can tell are all good. We took increasingly short breaks about every 1000' or so, and reached the summit by 6am. Temps where around 30F with maybe 25mph winds. It was quite chilly considering the scorching temps in Seattle. We stayed for about an hour on the summit (including the short hike to across the plateau and back) before we started our descent at around 7am. One team member got quite chilled on the way up as he did not add more layers early, and we decided the best way to warm him up was to get him going which in fact took care of the issue. The snow became quite soft as soon as it was hit by the sun, even early in the morning. I had to remind people to really plunge their ice axes rather than just using them as a walking stick. Again, we short roped on the cleaver, and also down from Cathedral Pass. We heard rock fall on the Cleaver, luckily we did not get hit by anything. Below the Cleaver, we moved as fast as possible below the hanging seracs - I reminded people repeatedly not to linger here.

We reached Camp Muir roughly by 11am. We rested, rehydrated and took off to Paradise around noon. All but one team members were quite exhausted at this point, one team member took a short nap. We were back at the car at 2:30pm - 22 hours after we took off.

All in all, everybody did exceedingly well. I think some of the team members were surprised how beaten up they felt after 20+ hours walking, but everybody held it together really well.

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