Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mt. Rainier Climb – Trip Report

On Sunday July 19, 2009 (update: silly date mistakes) around 9:00am, my team summited Mt. Rainier via the Emmons Glacier route. In my previous post I took a moment to describe and elaborate on the cause I would like to support as part of this climb. The full photo album of this trip is shared here.


 Our Team on the Summit – 14,440 ft!


Maris and Myself at 14,440 ft!

The Team

This climb was part of Olympia Mountaineers club climbs and was led by Colin. Originally we planned on having four rope teams but a few people cancelled on the climb last minute so we had three rope teams of three people each. I wasn’t signed up to be a rope lead but John and Bonnie were gracious enough to let me lead a rope. We planned to hike to the high camp on day 1, do a summit bid starting midnight and come back to high camp and rest for remaining of day 2 and then walk out to cars on day 3.

The Route

The Emmons route compared to the more popular DC route is a little longer and little more technical. I have done the DC route before and I felt that Emmons route showed a little more of the true mountain – lots of crevasses and wind!



Day 1

We started at about 10am from the White river parking lot which is about 4500ft to get to our high camp (Camp Schurman) at about 9500 ft.

I got to lead a rope on this climb, I have been mountaineering for only a few years now and this was my first glacier rope lead. Here is an interesting picture on the first day as we were heading to the Camp Schurman high camp, seems like I’m leading my team to a crevasse – but hey there was a snow bridge there.


We got to Camp Schurman at about 4:00pm and were told by the ranger that no camping spots are available on the rock. For next couple of hours we were digging snow platforms, and finally had our tents set up around 6:30pm.


Day 2

We woke up around midnight to start our climb up on Emmons Glacier. By the time we started (around 1am) there were already a quite a few partied ahead of us. I glitter of head lamps covered the mountain.


We had been informed by the ranger that the route was pretty straight forward expect for one tricky section which has a crevasse on side and a drop off on the other. Here is a picture of that section, while I was coming down it.


At this section – which was about at 11,800ft we spent about an hour and half waiting for other teams to pass, as most of them were putting an anchor before crossing. We were quite a bit concerned because with this lag we were running a quite a bit late, as it was already 5am! and we had about 2500+ ft to go and less than 5 hour before we absolutely need to turn back.

Fortunately, after crossing on top of this serac our three rope teams (Colin's, Josh’s and Mine) moved reasonably fast and we were at the summit about 9:15 pm. Here is picture of our climb leader Colin leading -


It was very windy on the summit. We paid our homage and dedications quickly and started on the way down at about 10am.


As they say the trip up is the easy part and other half on way down causes most mountaineering accidents! Well we did fairly well on the way down, we got to our high camp at about 2pm! However Mr. V, was a little slower and punched through a crevasse. It was only to be realized later than this punching through Crevasse will cause we some ankle trouble and an ER visit!

After getting to the camp we decided to take a quick nap and food break, pack out tent and be walking down by 4pm. This was slight change in the plan because the original climb plan was to stay as high camp on day 2 and then get back on cars on the next day. However the day 1 night was so windy and stormy at the high camp that no one could sleep. In fact, we were grateful than our 3-season vestibule less tent held in that kind of wind! So in the pursuit of some sleep we left the camp on day 2 itself!

The rest of the way down, as actually eventful! Mr. V successfully managed to get his a slight cut in chin while glissading the inter-glaciers. However, skipping the uncomfortable cut the glissade were fun!!!


So by the time we got to the Glacier basin and started hiking out on the trail, my injured ankle had surfaced itself and grown in to an unbearable pain! With a 60lb pack it was increasingly becoming uncomfortable to walk out. I let Colin (our climb leader) know that and subsequently graciously Bonnie and John stayed with myself and Maris to only re-surface at the trail head in 4 hours, around 9pm! Thanks to Maris for carrying our tent for the test of way and thanks to Colin, John, and Bonnie for keeping us company! We did enjoy the awesome meadows and the views though!


When we re-grouped around 9pm at the parking lot we decided to go for a late dinner in Enumclaw! We feasted in Mazatlan Mexican restaurant and every sip of my Dos Equi helped me relieve the ankle pain. After getting to Capitol hill, I made a late night ER visit and had my ankle checked and chin sealed.

The good news is that nothing is broken (as yet) but there is quite a bit of swelling hiding any other issues. Now the bad news - I don’t know if I will be able to go on our planned Seattle to San Francisco bicycling tour starting this Saturday :(.

Thanks to Colin, John, Bonnie, Josh, Ted, Chris, Andrew for letting me be part of this climb and thanks to lovely Ms. Maris was getting me on this climb! Colin did a great job leading the climb, it was my pleasure to be in such an awesome company!

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Mt. Rainier Climb – The Cause

I thought I would take a moment and elaborate on my personal and professional causes which I would like to evangelize as part of my climb.


Earlier I got email from Aparajita suggesting like Alok’s Rainier Climb, I should fundraise for Asha. I like Asha’s cause and zero-overhead approach, so please donate for Asha to support my climb. Asha has supported a project in my hometown in India – the Mayaboli school for hearing impaired. For those who know me and would like to personally donate for this cause I would be really happy to receive donations for the same. This is the same school for which I fundraised in my last Rainier climb. Please note unlike the general Asha the donations for Mayaboli are not 509(c)3 and hence not tax deductibleimages.

Mayaboli School For Hearing Impaired

Team Cause
I also want to promote my team HealthVault and have this climb help spread the word about need to improve the state of health care, particularly the need for individual citizens to assert right to Health Data.

Endorse HealthDataRights

To share to your success stories and learn more about what other folks are doing to make themselves an active participant in the Health eco-system – do take a look at http://www.iamenabled.com (please note – this is Microsoft sponsored venture).

Share your stories, join the movement

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Yosemite – Backpacking, Rafting and Road Trip!!

So this 4th of July long weekend myself & Maris did a road trip to Yosemite, CA to spend the weekend backpacking with my sister – Vaidehi and her friends Siddharth and Abhinav.

Vaidehi and Siddharth have never backpacked before they were little hesitant to join but I convinced them that this will be easy, fun and I can help them get the required gear. Here is an interesting picture of all that we packed and also how I communicated to Vaidehi and Sid what to bring :).

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We decided to backpack John Muir Trail from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley, 21 mile route has 1400 ft of total elevation gain and is very scenic – perfect for a comfortable beginners backpacking trip of 3 days! Yosemite park requires a permit to backpack and for the John Muir trail all the permits were sold months in advanced. However there was an option of walk-in permits which are issued 24 hours in advance, so myself and Maris decided to drive to California a day in advance so that we can get the permits for the long weekend. The drive to Yosemite was relatively swift we kept ourselves entertained by exploring the powers of my newly bought iPhone 3G-S and Maris knitted a yet to be named crochet concoction.

Let me digress – I was really impressed by the things you can do with the iPhone in fact we bought a few audio books from iTunes and it made our trip a pleasure. I discovered a really cool American author Jack London, we heard his short story – To Build a Fire. We also heard Mark Twain Sampler and numbers podcasts from NPR and Travel and Leisure themes. One word of caution though, a few books I bought new downloaded even though i was charged for them!! Its kind of lame of Apple to not prioritize the paid content for delivery through the carriers. Note that these books where less than 10 MB (one cant download anything more than 10MB through the AT&T cell network, you need to be on WiFi or dongled to a computer).

Anyhooo… we spent Thursday setting up our tent in the backpackers camping ground in Tuolumne Meadows and driving around the park. We kept our car on the other side in Yosemite Valley so that we have a transport when we get out of the trail on the other side. We took a rather comfortable $8 shuttle/ YART Bus back to Tuolumne Meadows from the Valley! Vaidehi and Sid joined us late on Thursday night.


Backpacking Day 1

After a great breakfast at the Tuolumne lodge we started our hike up to the Cathedral lakes. This was the toughest part of the backpacking trip in 3.5 miles we gained 1400ft. Vaidehi and Sid did very great on the way up, we were really impressed by them even though this was a first backpacking trip for them. In fact we took 0.5 mile detour to go look at the lakes and join Steffen & friends (we pleasantly ran in to them at the Tuolumne lodge, Steffen took some great pics with his new camera so we have to wait for those pics).

IMG_3416 IMG_3417However the lake was infested with Mosquitoes (apparently the Mosquitoes as in high season until 3 weeks after the snow melts). Vaidehi got really pestered by the mosquitoes, her newly bought hiking shoes had silently troubled her as well.


When we got back to our trail we figured that Vaidehi in fact has sprained her ankle and the new shoes were biting her. Given that this was her first backpacking trip, trucking a sprained ankle for almost 17 miles ahead of us would be no fun, we made a call that she should go back. Sid graciously decided to accompany her. Myself and Maris then thought of finishing the trip in two days rather than three and meeting Sid and Vaidehi back in the valley for Day 3.

It was almost 4:30 pm, so Maris and Myself continued hiking and reach our day 1 camping spot – Sunrise high camp at about 6:30pm covering 10 miles in total since our start at 11:30am. This camp was infested with Mosquitoes as well so we decided to hike a little further along until we find a nice spot. We went about a mile ahead and camped in a very cool spot with great views, at about 9700 ft. I went down to the swamps and found a small stream and filtered some water for us as a swarm of mosquitoes feasted on me.

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Backpacking Day 2

We woke up about 7am on Day 2 and started our hike at about 8am after an oatmeal breakfast prepared my our chef de excellence – Ms. Maris Lemba. This was a relatively easy day as we had about 13 miles ahead of us but it was all downhill. We hiked down to the Sunrise creek and had lunch there. Surprisingly I had cell phone coverage there, I called Vaidehi and told her that we will be down to the valley around 4pm. On our way down from Sunrise creek we passed the great half down trail, from a near wilderness experience we suddenly were amidst hoards of hikers. The trail from here became steep and the continuous downhill pounding troubled my knees quite a bit. We reach the lower Yosemite valley around 2:30pm and I decided to take a dip in the Merced river it was awesome!! This originally was our day 2 camping spot.



From there on we continued our journey downward seeing couple of falls. We camped at the backpackers area in the North pine camping ground in the valley. We met another backpacking couple at the camp and chatted about great hikes and climbing areas around the valley over a bonfire and some wine :).

Highlights of the trip

Here are pictures of some interesting flora and fauna we saw on the trip.




Unknown flowers

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Day 3 - Rafting

The third day we were again joined by Vaidehi, Sid and Abhinav. We spent sometime sight seeing the valley and then did an awesome lazy rafting trip through the Merced river in lower valley!


Towards the end of the day Vaidehi, Sid and Abhinav went to the Glacier point but for some reason we took a wrong turn and never made it there. On the way to point we witnessed some forest fires (the first I have seen).


This was an awesome trip, thanks to Vaidehi for suggesting it.

Road Trip Back Home – Scouting the route for riding to San Francisco

On our way back to Seattle we continued with the iPhone books :). But we had another project as well to scout the route for my bike trip from Seattle to San Francisco. It was great to see the number of bikers on highway 101. Our original plan of 95 miles a day seems a little too ambitious now that I have seen the terrain, off to re-planning it now :)!

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