Rainier Summit Fever and Survival Snowboarding

Mount Rainier, WA (July 16, 2010)

Six and a half hours from ten thousand feet to fourteen thousand feet—stepping over crevasses, blue ‘til infinity, no bottom in site. Roped up to folks you should trust with your life.

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Mt Rainier is a common proving ground for mountaineers looking to get high on thin O2. My friend Dave Gahn called me four days prior to inquire about my interest in doing some out-of-the-ordinary snowboarding. Always up for diversity, I gave full on crampon a shot. We skinned our splitboards up the interglacier for five thousand feet to high camp, then set up immediate shelter in an ever-changing environment; drank a lot of water and a little bit of booze. Sleep did not come all that easy as my body is used to sea level and there I was at ten thousand feet, spooning in a two-person tent with another man.

Summit day went like this: climb for six and a half hours; reach the top to be welcomed by fifty mile an hour winds; strap in and clutch an ice axe right and tight, ‘cause if you lose your edge on the two thousand feet of ice we just came up, you’re not coming back. It was “survival snowboarding” as Dave puts it.

Three thousand more feet of frozen sun cups put our shred legs to the test. Then the last thousand was great—good, soft, six month old snow; even a few airs. A new experience for sure. The snowboard season isn’t over—you’ve just got to get high.


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