Trip Report: Rainier on Rainier
Mountain: Mt. Rainier, 14,411', Washington Cascades.
Route: Emmons Glacier, 45° snow, 4,700' from high camp.
July 2-3, 2023
I'm not the sort of person that keeps a bucket list. If I was, however, sipping a Rainier beer on top of Mt. Rainier certainly would have been near the top. Could it be perhaps the ultimate expression of Northwest pride? I think so.
Day 1. White River TH to Emmons Flats 5.65 mi, 5,706' elevation gain
Zach, Camden and I set off from the White River trailhead at around 7:20 AM, feeling elated to have snagged a rare permit reservation the previous week. The trek to high camp at Emmons Flats starts out on a well-maintained trail along the Inter Fork of the White River. My approach outfit certainly elicited some stares from the day hiker set. I guess these casuals have never heard of ultra-light.
|The author modeling the Alpine Tighties™. Photo: Zach Smith.
The trail spits you out in the Glacier Basin meadow, which looks up at the Inter Glacier and Steamboat Prow. Here, you finally get to see where the 5,000 feet of elevation gain that day comes from. Camden, who had more high elevation climbing experience than us, cautioned that taking it slow, even at these lower elevations, would ease our acclimatization and make summit day much less painful. I generally struggle to pace myself on longer days, but this time I was able to keep myself to a conversational pace as we slogged up the Inter Glacier (these days, it's more of a snow field).
|Inter Glacier. Photo: Zach Smith.
|Camp Schurman ranger station.
After a brief stop at Camp Schurman to use the pit toilet (bring your own TP!), we continued on to Emmons Flats. We watched in part amusement, part concern as the last climber in a descending party tripped and fell while walking across a snow bridge, just barely avoiding a tumble into the deep. I gripped my ice axe just a little bit tighter as I watched him thrash around under the weight of his pack, but he eventually got onto his feet without incident.
|Camden setting up the tent, Emmons Flats camp.
Day 2. Emmons Flats to summit to White River TH. 12.2 mi, 4,648' elevation gain
|Adjusting our outfits as we go out for the night. Our camp is the orange glow bottom right.
|An unknown team moves across Liberty Saddle.