Sunday, September 12, 2004

Made Camp Muir.

As you might recall from my previous blog entries, I had set a personal goal to reach Camp Muir on Sept. 11th of 2004. (What not a better way to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of 9-11.) Prior to August of this year I had never hiked before, and knew reaching Camp Muir would be a lofty goal for a newbie hiker. I gave myself roughly a month to “hike-condition” myself in order to reach Muir on only my three hike of my life. I really had to rely on my overall great physical fitness.

On any normal day a hike to Camp Muir is no small feet, you’re traveling roughly 10 miles round trip, 5 miles each way and gain 5,000+ ft. one way in 5 miles… that’s a pretty step gain, with a steep grade. Another thing to keep in mind is that you’re also crossing 2.5 miles of a permanent snow field, which has all of the common snow traversal hazards, plus the possibility of some big crevasses with no end in sight… and poor visibility on an open face mountain side.

Fast-forward to yesterday… I woke up at around 6:00am, with my friend Will picking me up at 7:30am. We arrived at Paradise about 9:40am and setout to tackle Camp Muir at 10:10am. We knew the weather approaching Muir as less than perfect; the ranger station was reporting temps of 34 degrees and winds of 50mph along the way. We made our way to Pebble Creek in about 1 hour, which meant we cover the first 2.5 miles with relative ease and quickly. Pebble Creek is a good area to change gear, eat, and rest before the Muir snow field. After eating and changing into some different gear, we started our next leg. At this point the weather started to down grade for us and we started feeling the low temps and high wind gusts. By this time we were really starting to gain in elevation and breathing pretty hard. About half a mile from Moon rock Will and I ran into some guy with a GPS who apparently was lost and trying to find his way up to Muir. After talking with him for about 5 minutes we decided to stay our course, and he went a different way. (We never saw him on Camp Muir; we figure he probably turned back at some point.) Once we crossed Moon rock, the wind really started to pick up and the temp was dropping even more. For the most part we kept warm, just the high winds made it very challenging to push up the mountain. Shortly after passing Moon rock, we could start to see Anvil rock, which meant we were close to 9,500 ft, with Muir only 600 ft. above that. We finally got even with Anvil rock, and could barely see Camp Muir in the distance. Once we saw Camp Muir, it took us about another hour to make it there. Once we made Camp Muir the winds were about 50mph and a wind chill of about 17 degrees. Just shy of Camp Muir, Will and I caught up with a group of Army Rangers on a training “mission”. At Camp Muir we were the only group up there, besides some RMI guides that were looking to summit early next morning. At this point I was pretty cold and miserable, looking to take a few pictures and finding a way to get the hell of this mountain safely and quickly. I was pretty hungry, although I had no appetite to eat… I had to force myself to eat some crackers and load up on liquids for the way down. After about 30 minutes Will and I decided to make our way down, after being nearly frozen up on Camp Muir. Our way down was pretty uneventful and went pretty quick, thanks to some “slides” we were able to make. These slides were made by other people, which allowed us to shave a lot of time and quickly make up distance.

After is was all said and done, we made the 10 mile trek up to Muir and down in about 6.5 hours from the time we started. Of all of the things I’ve done in life I would easily put this in the top 5 most difficult things I’ve done. In my third hike ever I was able to make Muir, which was a very satisfying goal for me. I’m glad I was able to leverage my overall physical fitness, combined with some conditioning hikes to obtain my goal.

Below are some pics I took while @ Muir.

(Look at the steep incline on the last pic... should give you an overall idea of the steepness we covered, on our way up.)


At 3:12 PM, Blogger Joanne said...

Wow! You post some beautiful pictures. Your hike up to Camp Muir reminds me a bit of Alaska, where I used to live. It is so impressive you were able to do that after only 3 hikes. I'm a little envious of your trip to China. I've always wanted to go. :)


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