First Ascent splitboarder Kyle Miller had a goal: to be the first person to ride lines on the 10 highest peaks in Washington during a single season. In this post he describes the satisfaction from achieving his personal challenge.
By Kyle Miller, photos by Amar Andalkar
We woke up with the morning sun, getting on the road and arriving at the White River trail on Mt. Rainier around noon. After filling our backpacks to the brim with food, shelter and climbing equipment, Amar and I were off hiking four miles up to Glacier Basin and up the Interglacier. It had been well over three months since I had been in this area, last visiting it via snowmobile, with memories of the ice I was now climbing once being three feet of powder leaving a perma-grin on my face. We reached Camp Schurman (the base camp for the Emmons Glacier route) at around 6 p.m., just as a lenticular cloud slowly dissipated. For the next two hours, we set up camp, making walls to protect us from the wind and setting up our bivy gear before heading to sleep.
The morning light broke into our shelter, as we were the last group at camp with the intention of climbing. Many groups had left at about midnight, but with a purpose of skiing/riding, we left at the early alpine hour of 8:00 a.m., knowing the perfect time to ski the route would be 1 p.m. The climb went fast as we went up a well-established boot pack, crossing and navigating through crevasses and seracs up the seemingly endless route. The day was warm, but a brisk wind kept my temperature down as I hiked gloveless and in a cotton T-shirt before switching over to a coat at the summit ridge. When we reached the Rainier summit proper, we took in views of the Cascades, Olympics, Puget Sound and the surrounding cities before starting our descent. The first few low-angled turns in the crater were windblown powder before starting down the massive Emmons Glacier. Conditions ranged from icy bulletproof to perfect corn and all in between as we carefully rode down the slopes.
Each crevasse took some delicate work, with some forcing me to take off the board and others having me jump over the cracks. With the passing of each crevasse we were that much closer to base camp and out of harm’s way. The final 2,000 feet, otherwise known as the corridor, was a dream of wide-open slopes with minimal concern for crevasses as we finally let loose.
Back at camp around 2:00, I was excited I had finally completed my goal/project for the season, riding lines on the 10 highest peaks. It had stressed me out for months, and it felt great to complete such a huge personal adventure. I had ridden everything from isolated peaks to volcanoes, ranging from 50-mile trips to six-mile trips. I reflected on the journeys as we left base camp, riding an additional 2,500 feet down to Glacier Basin and the final hike out to the trailhead. This challenge had taken me from April to August with a two-month intermission in South America, but now it was over.
Now everyone’s question is: What is your plan for next year?
Well, you will just have to wait and see.
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