Damien and I have a commitment to climb to $10,000+ feet about once a month to maintain our high altitude conditioning. Keeping to our training program we met our October Quota by spending the night at Camp Muir on Mt Rainier.

Saturday was forecasted to be “breezy”. On the contrary I thought a better word would have been “very gusty”. Winds probably reached speeds of about 30mph. Not exactly as bad as the last time we climbed Muir in August, but enough to knock me around a bit. The crowds grew thinner as we went higher as per usual… but was usual was the sad amount of snow/ice cover. I do believe that we walked across rock and sand piles that had never seen the light of day until this year. At about 8,200 feet Damien and I left the sandy, rocky path we’d been following and moved left onto the Muir Glacier. The snow started at 8,200ft!!!! And, as we discovered, it was pretty must possible avoid the snow/ice until 9400ish feet is one wanted to. We had crampons and we’re really did not enjoy sloshing through sand, so the glacier was a better option for us.

The Muir Glacier is pretty melted out and features lots of blue ice and water channels. Use caution. Higher up at abut 9,000+ feet there crevasses have opened up. Some are rather large. It is fairly easy to navigate around them, but you have to be aware of them being there for sure.

Damien and I had actually originally planned to camp at Ingraham Flats, but with the high wind gusts we decided that it would be safer to stay at Muir. The Flats would probably have gusts at 50mph. We sent up our tent in “the trench”. We were very excited to use our brand new SMC T-Anchor tent stakes, which are like mini flukes. They worked great, except for that fact that they are rather delicate and easy to slice and/or bend when digging them up. We also put some guy lines on the tent using out pickets and axes. In the end we had minimum “flapage” and a tent that didn’t blow away.We scurried inside and heated some water hanging our stove with our new “reactor hang kit”… yet another brand new toy. Basically, it ended up being a  test run for our winter mountaineering equipment.

The night proved to be very cold, but we stayed pretty toasted with our huge puffys! The wind died down after mid-night and we woke to a clear and calm day with views all the way to Mt. Hood. A successful weekend of new gear and acclimation…but we really need snow.

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