What is your preferred operating system and browser? I've been using PC products (i.e. MSFT) for most of this blog, but have recently been forced to rely on Apple... and as the faithful to this blog will note, my updates have been few and far between. What does this all mean? I can't seem to adjust the color/fonts/links etc. anymore. I'm sure there is a way to figure this out, but I've been too busy wrapping up the primary climbing season and getting ready for the fall/autumn to figure out these details. Therefore, this post temporarily lacked (fixed 10-15-07) such friendly features as links, photos, etc. A chinook helicopter practices a summit crater landing, photo by Mike Gauthier.
Labor Day weekend traditionally marks the end of the summer, and for climbers on Mt. Rainier, it means fewer attempts and quiet nights at the high camps. Ranger Tom "House of" Payne reported only four independent climbers at Camp Muir one night this weekend. Sure, the guide services are still moving up the hill in full force, but many independent climbers have moved onto other projects now that the glaciers are heavily crevassed and icy.
During the last week of August, there was an intense amount of helicopter activity over two days. Most of this action was centered upon cleaning up Camp Muir (i.e. construction debris) and flying down the human waste barrels collected over the season. There was also a training/media event that included a mock rescue mission and flight/landing patterns on the summit crater and Observation Rock. You can find more information about that event on KPLU (NPR radio), KOMO 4 (ABC), and KING 5 (NBC). Right: TV crews are dropped off on the mountain to video a chinook helicopter practicing hoist manuveurs in the distance. Photo by Andy Anderson
Also in Mount Rainier climbing news, the Puget Sound Business Journal was slipped word about Maria Cantwell's time at Camp Muir with me and other climbing rangers a few weeks ago. For those not familiar with national politics, Ms. Cantwell is one of Washington State's two U.S. Senators. You may recall, I reported on her day hike to Camp Muir last July. As things often turn out in the mountains, that hike and that experience tempted Maria to find out more about the upper mountain and climbing. What a treat for the climbing community: a U.S. Senator personally interested in what we treasure and enjoy.
I could share a lot of cool things about the trip (and I probably will someday when I get back to a PC), but the important point to take home is that our senator was truly impressed with the beauty and challenge of mountaineering, and in preserving Mount Rainier as the world-class climbing destination it has long been. And though our team was unable to make the summit, I suspect that we'll see her again on the high slopes of the mountain. So folks, if you were hanging out at Camp Muir in late August, you may have noticed a shy woman kicking around the ranger hut. Next time you stop by for climbing information, water, or just to be social, note that you may have the audience of a true power broker.