In the summer of 2003 a buddy and I drove westward along the Trans Canada highway making a brief stop in Alberta on our way to Washington state to climb Mt. Ranier, the third highest mountain in the lower 48 of the United States of America after only Mt. Whitney (first) and Mt. Shasta (second)... both in California. The difficulty and danger of an attempt on Ranier lays in the fact that it is a volcanic cone situated very near to the west coast and it is subjected to unpredictable and extreme weather patterns that often shroud it in high winds and blizzards, even in the middle of summer. Additionally, even when the weather is good the mountain is still perpetually glacier covered and deep crevasse lay hidden by thin snow bridges just waiting to swallow the unwary climber. Visible crevasses are dangers on all sides. Deaths on Ranier, while not overly common, do occur almost yearly. We were very fortunate to have had a few days of good weather for our summit bid and our climb was successful. Our trip began with a drive westward across the trans Canada highway where we paused momentarily to check out the badlands of Alberta in Banff Alberta. While in Alberta we also scrambled a few of the local mountains to give us a little leg work for the climb of Ranier. Tunnel Mountain was one of the peaks we scaled near Banff. Then we crossed the border into Washington State for the climb of Mount Ranier, not far from Seattle. Our Climb of Rainier was unique because in effect because we actually climbed it one and a half times. On our ascent of the mountain from Camp Muir we had agreed to join a group led by what we thought was an experienced mountain guide. It turned out that he was not as experienced as he claimed, and while we did get to the summit without incident, unfortunately he led us down from the summit on a route that took us to the wrong side of the mountain, far from our tents and vehicles which were on the north side of the mountain. By the time we noticed that we were descending the wrong way we were all far too tired to climb back up to the summit and back across the volcanic cone to descend down the proper side of the mountain so we were forced to continue our descent down to the very base of the mountain on the south side. Our problem was that now our tents were still at the half way point of the climb at Camp Muir on the north side of Ranier and there was no way to retrieve them unless we climbed back up the north side to get them. At the base of the south side we were fortunate that our "guide" on the descent found us a nice elderly gentleman who was willing to drive myself and one member of their group to the north side (an hour drive) so that we could retrieve our respective vehicles and drive back them back to the south side side of the mountain (another hour drive), to retrieve our respective climbing partners and then drive back to the north side of the mountain (another hour) to find a place to stay for the night in preparation for the climb back to Camp Muir the following day to retrieve our tents. Needless to say, we were way too tired to even attempt climbing back to camp Muir to retrieve our tents right then, so we rented a nice hotel room for the night and made our way back to the mountain the next morning and proceeded to climb all the way back to Camp Muir where we packed up our tent and climbed back down. Events like this are what the "good" stories in travel and adventure come from. These images were scanned from negatives and the colour was adjusted to there best of my ability to bring them back to what the scenes looked like. Alas, over the decades some of the quality has been lost to the degradation of time.
© Steve Tambosso - "The Wandering Fireman"