Kautz Glacier on Mt Rainier (June 15, 1997)

Tried Rainier via the Kautz, again. Left Seattle at 2pm on Saturday, did checkin, and camped the night at the edge of the Nisqually. Sunday, got a sluggish start (7:30), but made good time heading up towards Hazard. At about 10,000 ft (around 1pm) the weather changed from beautiful sunshine to howling wind. We reached Hazard around 2 and looked for a sheltered spot.

In all, we spent about 5 hours setting up camp, melting water, and cooking. Either my Whisperlite is in dire need of maintinence, or it is just a sucky stove.

The ice cliff looks pretty active -- much nastier than last year. Significantly, the spot we slept in last year no longer exists. The topography of the area seems to have been altered by some large slides from the ice cliff. We saw a tremendous ice avalanche from the ice cliff, which passed close by our camp, and nearly obliterated a spot we almost chose earlier.

The winds stayed strong all night, and did a fair bit of damage to the poles on our VE-24. I've heard this tent described as the ultimate mountain tent, but I found it to be pretty sucky. Not enough tie down loops, hard to set up, etc. Maybe any tent will crap out in that kind of wind. Needless to say, we gave up any hope of getting to the summit when the weather didn't improve the next day. Whilst packing up, the wind stole Margaret's nice sleeping bag. We never found it on the way down. Time to Paradise: 3.25 hours, including looking for the bag.

Recommendation: I will never again spend a night at Hazard unless forced to. I think I'm jinxed. A much better alternative are the cushy spots at 9500 ft at the edge of the Wilson. Why? 1. You can leave Seattle and make it to these spots comfortably in one day. Leave Seattle at 6, hit the trail by 10, make it to these spots by 4. There's running water to be found, and the winds aren't nearly as extreme. 2. Sure, you're 2000 ft below Hazard (making for a 5000 ft summit day), but you now get to climb those feet with light summit-packs (rather than killing yourself to haul tents etc up that miserable Turtle) and you can easily do them in the dark (the same can't necessarily be said for negotiating the ice cliff). Get up at 2, make Hazard at first light, summit by 9. Those 2000 ft will be a non-issue on the way down as you can glissade them.