The planned route follows Highway 7 from Vancouver to Mission. From here we head south through Abbotsford and across the Sumas border crossing into Washington. We continue south and east towards Mount Baker and find somewhere to camp for night 1 near Deming. Day 2 takes us from Deming south along Highway 9 to Bothell. The plan is to spend the night recovering at my sister’s house – or more likely playing with my three young nieces. The next day we will continue south along the eastern shore of Lake Sammamish and make our way south of Enumclaw to Alder Lake Park. Our final and hardest day on the bike heads east along the National Park highway to Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park. The route climbs almost 1500 m in elevation in less than 40 km distance. Needless to say, we plan on a relaxing rest day before starting our assault of the mountain.
Mount Rainier is certainly not Everest, but it is a significant mountaineering challenge. It is the second highest peak in the lower 48 states at 4394 m (14,417 ft), and has a greater topographical prominence than K2. It is also the most heavily glaciated mountain in the lower 48 states with 26 major glaciers. Mount Rainier is a volcano that has been dormant since around 1850.
Our planned route up the mountain follows the popular Disappointment Cleaver route along the southeast flank of the mountain. This route ascends almost 10,000 vertical feet across glaciers, crevasses, ice falls, and steep rock scrambles. I have previously attempted the Fuhrer Finger route further to the west, but this will be my first attempt up the main climbing route. We will be attempting this as a self guided group, but will have at least a couple team members with significant mountain climbing experience. We start our climb from Paradise in the early hours of the morning. Our first night will be at Camp Muir at almost 11,000 ft. We will set off for the summit on the next day by around 2 am. It’s a long haul to the summit and our goal is to get off the mountain before the daytime heat increases the avalanche and ice fall hazard. Climbing before dawn has a very calm and quiet feel.
From the summit we will likely descend along the climbing route on skis. This makes it a much faster way down, but we must be very cautious of crevasses and other hazards. I’m sure we will enjoy another day of rest and celebration before return home by bike. The entire trip will take around 2 weeks, depending on weather.