Camp Construction

Construction continues at both high camps this month.  Bags of concrete for the new toilet project at Camp Muir were flown up this week.  The carpenters have been hard at work forming the walls now that the footing for the structure has been finished.  Two massive steel I-beams were also flown up as a part of the project - amazing precision by the pilots at NW Helicopters!  Safety around the worksite is paramount.  Please don't enter the worksite without permission from the carpenters working there.  Keep out of areas above the worksite where rocks could be dislodged and land near the construction zone.  Swing by the ranger hut if you have any questions regarding the construction project.  

New windows for the Ranger Hut at Camp Muir are also being installed.  One of the oldest buildings in the park (if not the oldest) will finally have windows that can open.  Fresh air, not to mention lower CO levels, will be a welcome change for the hut.  

Steel framing plus backing board was flown for the new water and electrical system at Camp Schurman.  Help from private donations and fundraisers has been directed to help bring the Schurman Hut into the twenty-first century.  Hopefully we'll have up-to-date forecasts, reliable communication, and the ability to procure resources after the improvements are finished.

All the construction hasn't put any damper on climbing.  Lots of teams are still heading up both of the standard routes (the DC and the E/W) and reporting great conditions with uncharacteristically direct routes for this time of year.  Despite a couple of upper level troughs moving through, and a bit of new snow, the conditions have been optimal.  And... speaking of optimal - the wild flowers in the alpine meadows have been amazing this season.  Bring the macro lens!

Mountain Ambassador Extraordinaire

Early in August - on the fifth - we remembered our partner on the mountain, colleague, and friend, Ted Cox.  Ted passed away two years ago, but still seems to be present in our lives everyday at high camp.  He worked at Camp Muir for about a decade doing most everything: fixing doors on huts, installing new solar toilets, painting and weather proofing the structures, helping climbers with broken crampons, hauling down garbage left in the public shelter, hauling up medical kit supplies, and assisting the rangers with search and rescues. These were but a few of his skills. Where Ted stood far above the rest of us was in his extraordinary willingness to befriend anyone who ventured over to say hello. "Welcome to Camp Schurman" he would say as someone walked out of the clouds into Muir.  The ruse never lasted long, but reminded everyone that everything didn't have to be so serious.

Ted brought a mix of compassion, thoughtfulness, humor, competence, and sense of place to Camp Muir.  He knew exactly the measure of the mountain with respect to the cosmos, and kept others informed of it with his sharp wit and smile.  Ted summitted Mount Rainier, but he valued brotherhood and the journey more than any summit.  He'd see folks jockeying to get in front of or behind other rope teams; frustrated from not summitting; nervous about late starts. Ted would try to tell them it wasn't about bagging the peak.  There's always a taller peak - some climbed, like Everest (29,029 ft) and some unclimbed, like Olympus Mons (69,649 ft) - but enjoying the time on the mountain and the people you're around is most important.

In that spirit we remind folks that next time they're waiting for a slow climber on a ladder, or behind a rope team taking a photo, or waiting at a bottleneck on a popular route; to offer a smile, some spare water or snacks, even offer to take a photo.  We're stoked to see so many folks up climbing and having great adventures together.  See you on the glaciers!

Summertime's Back

Warm weather around Mount Rainier has been creating some pretty large electrical storms near the mountain.  Spectacular to see from afar, but a bit unnerving to be near - especially if there's nothing else around that's taller than you!  Safety around electrical storms is all about minimizing the chances of getting hit.  Put the odds in your favor by avoiding any climb that puts you near a storm, staying near depressions and away from ridge tops, and crouch with your feet close together if the storm is unavoidable.  Definitely don't climb up into a storm - it's generally not fun.

Also - a heads up: for those of you planning to arrive in the wee hours or depart late this next week, Monday through Wednesday, August 4, 5, and 6 the Nisqually Road will be CLOSED TO ALL TRAFFIC between the Westside Road and Longmire between  the hours of 9:30 pm & 4:30 am.  This is the main road into the park from Seattle and Portland.  Climbers heading into or out of the Paradise area during these nights will need to use Stevens Canyon Road.