Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Flying High with the 214th

Over the past couple of days, Climbing Rangers had the opportunity to train with the US Army 214th reserve aviation brigade and their CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The 214th and the Rainier climbing rangers have been working closely together for many years and they provide us with an exceptional tool for Search and Rescue missions and we are very proud to have the opportunity to fly with them. 

Throughout the climbing season rangers and the Chinook crew train together so when things get "real" everyone is up to speed with what to do. The 214th's Chinook is specially equipped for working on Rainier, with skis that make soft snow landings possible, special flooring which allows rangers to wear crampons inside the helicopter, and special rigging inside that allow rangers and rescue litters to be lowered and raised safely on the cable hoist. 

Training with these guys also allows us the chance to do some great early season recon of the climbing routes on Rainier. Yesterday we got that opportunity, so check out the Route Updates page...all the major routes have been updated with aerial photos and conditions all around the mountain are looking great! Access to the more remote routes is difficult at this time, since many of the roads into the park are still being plowed out from the winters snow. The road crew has been working very hard lately and most park roads should be opening soon. If you are feeling adventurous there is nothing stopping anyone from getting to and climbing any route at this time, just plan on an extra day or two for the approach. Spring on Rainier can be some of the best climbing and skiing along with a very real wilderness experience.

See you on the Mountain.