Monday, September 6, 2021

Mt Rainier FKT, 3:24

A couple years late is better than never! On May 12, 2019, Tom Goth and I skied Mt. Rainier via the Ingraham direct in 3:24, car to car from Paradise. My love of Mt Rainier and my fascination with skiing it fast started a few years earlier when Andy and I made a couple attempts culminating in a 3:57 round trip effort back in 2013. Over the next 6 years, my focus on Randonnee racing was wisely traded for my love of skiing Wasatch powder! This led to a little drop in my race fitness but skiing powder was just so much fun! 

2019 was a World Championship year and the allure of racing in Switzerland got me to focus again on the skinny skis in preparation.  After competing all winter it seemed like it was finally time to go back to Rainier and give it another honest effort. Luckily Tom is permastoked and was game from day one. We actually started the 2018-19 race season with the end of the season goal of giving Rainier a shot. Tom is amazing at a lot of different things but one of his best qualities is his ability to consistently train. Teaming up with him allowed me to steal some of that motivation and put in the work throughout the season to be ready for a real attempt. Two weeks before leaving for Rainier we went to Brighton to ski an up tempo 10,000’.  3:30 later we were back at the car, tired but not terribly so, and confident in our fitness. All we needed now were good conditions. 

Driving out it looked like temps were going to be a little warm. I don’t remember the exact low at Paradise but I remember hoping it was going to be good enough for a light refreeze. We got a 6:20AM start and were happy with the conditions. The snow was a touch soft but it was good enough. We wanted to go conservatively hard up to Camp Muir and when we got there at 1:18 we were still feeling strong. I was stopped by a ranger asking to see our permit as we came through Muir. Luckily we had one! 

Turning the corner and going through Ingraham Flats gave us our first view of the upper mountain. It was glorious! There was a perfect sidewalk in the snow leading straight to the summit. Just past the Flats we pulled skis and put on crampons. We enjoyed 3000’ of perfect booting with three ladders conveniently in place to cross short but deep crevasses. I kept looking at my watch wondering if the elevation was wrong. If we were really at 13,000’ in 2:15 we were going to be fast! 

15 feet from the summit I started to get twinges of cramps. Good thing we were about to switch to skis! 2:45 at the summit and we knew we were rolling! Now we just had to make it down without any gear failures or catastrophes. 

Upper Mountain, Charlie Hagedron photo. @charliehagedron
Charlie Hagedron photo. @charliehagedron

The upper mountain was rock hard but a little textured. We skied the first couple thousand feet cautiously but with purpose. Although we were tempted to ski over the first two crevasses we took skis off and walked. The three holes were close enough that a fall jumping one would probably end with us falling into the next! Once there was only one more crevasse to navigate Tom took the initiative and jumped it with skis on. Bastard. I had to follow so he wouldn’t leave me! From there it was smooth sailing down the Muir snowfield and we found ourselves back at the parking lot 3:24 after leaving it. It was before 10 and we were hungry. A quick photo and we were off to the Alexander Inn in Ashford for a continental breakfast and a shower!

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