Rainier Summit, Emmons Route

I think part of the draw of the mountains, for me at least, is the journey. It's a spiritual journey. One that connects your body with this wild creation, your soul with the wind of the Spirit and reveals that sorrow and suffering are a real and important part of our experience here on earth. Granted, the suffering experienced in the wild is manufactured in a way - I choose to put myself in that environment; where real adversity is thrust upon us unwillingly. But nonetheless, there's something about sorrow that I just can't get enough of. None of these were conscious thoughts when I signed up for a climb of Mt Rainier, of course. But upon reflection I'm beginning to realize that melancholy is a vital aspect of true joy; and I seek it out in the mountains.

 2 hours into the summit attempt.

2 hours into the summit attempt.

The months leading up to Rainier were some of the craziest, balls-to-the-wall, buckle-up-we're-in-for-a-bumpy-ride months I've had yet. After climbing Kilimanjaro, I found myself dreaming about climbing Denali (just the highest peak in North America at a casual 20,000ft, ndb). It started out innocent enough at first, then I started taking small leaps of faith to make it happen. I took a Denali Prep class on Rainier which kicked my ass, I started meeting weekly with a trainer who helped me get into shape, I grew to love putting the time in at the gym and outside. I started to realize the desk job I had was holding me back, so I quit. I quit my job to climb Rainier, ya'll. Literally my last day at my graphic design job of 4 years was the day before I jumped on a plane to Seattle. Hello reckless abandon.

 This is my "we get to go downhill now?!" face.

This is my "we get to go downhill now?!" face.

So I expected Rainier to be hard. But I'd been training hard and felt pretty unstoppable. Over the next four days I would learn that I still had a lot to learn before attempting Denali. Like, a whole lot. It's been 6 months, so the memory has gone rose-colored, but I remember being grumpy and miserable most of the time. I tried to be happy... every once in a while I would remember that I wanted to be here and I should look around and enjoy it. But then I would just get distracted by being angry at myself for wanting this. The climb was more of a mental challenge than a physical one (lol but definitely don't underestimate the shape you have to be in for this mountain; Kilimanjaro is a breeze in comparison). 

 Watching as climbers navigate the giant crevasse right outside of camp.

Watching as climbers navigate the giant crevasse right outside of camp.

I think what I'm trying to communicate is that in the journey of life, the lows are as important as the highs. God doesn't withhold suffering and if you walk with a heart of gratitude and trust, the suffering can be the blessing.

Oh, and the next time I climb Rainier I'm going to come prepared to actually enjoy it!

 

 Trekking from Glacier Basin to the first bit of snow. 

Trekking from Glacier Basin to the first bit of snow. 

 The uphill view from camp our first night.

The uphill view from camp our first night.

 Camping on a glacier was one of my favorite experiences ever. I have since fallen in love with the ice and plan to spend many more nights in this kind of terrain.

Camping on a glacier was one of my favorite experiences ever. I have since fallen in love with the ice and plan to spend many more nights in this kind of terrain.

 Hello down there!

Hello down there!

 The view from the pit toilet at Camp Schurman, aka Heaven.

The view from the pit toilet at Camp Schurman, aka Heaven.