August 3, 2001, Flett Glacier, Mt. Rainier NP

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by ema on 9/15/02 10:01pm
This is the epic story of my very first trip into the backcountry. This season a friend and I discovered the wonderful world of snowriding addiction. Immediately, we realized that we would not be able to wait during the off season for the lifts to start again and began to prepare for the backcountry. After finding this site and reading the 7-29 trip report I decided on Flett. Mark and I loaded up my bus with gear and food for three days and set off for Mowich Lake early Friday morning after Mark got off work. We planned to do sort of a half day, hike back, sleep, and give it the full treatment on saturday.(So foolish!) Skipping breakfast, and on very little sleep, we set off down the spray park trail in our snowboard boots. I've never hiked three miles in my life let alone in snowboard boots and with a full pack and board on my back. (Definitely 3 in and 9 out.)

Coming into Spray Park I had developed a blister on each foot and we were both very tired. The Mt. was completely fogged in and we weren't even sure which direction it was. There was a trail leading to where the Mt. was supposed to be but there was a sign saying not to walk on it. We continued on and finally decided to leave the trail and head towards the Mt. We went about a hundred yards and all of a sudden the fog just parted and Rainier seemed to jump at us like a dog when you get to close to the fence. Excited we spead toward the glacier, probably killing what little energy we had left. We decided to a few turns on a 50 yard patch to warm up and then had lunch. After a nice long break we started to climb below and to the right of what I think was Observation Rock - the first of three linked slopes if that tells you where we were. The snow was pretty solid and tough to climb in soft boots. I would have really liked crampons, especialy on the second slope. About 2/3 up the second slope there was a small crevasse. It was fairly long but only 6" wide at it's widest. I'd never seen one before so it was kind of a trip. After finally reaching the top of the second slope we decided that we were done which was fine because the 3rd slope had two larger cracks and a large field of blue ice. We also could hear water running. We put on our boards and rode down. I don't think we hit the right slope because there wasn't any great corn but it wasn't a bad ride until the end. That was about it for us. Not sure of the time and completely spent, we began the long hike back knowing we would not be back the next day. We arrived at about 8pm exhausted, starving and suffering severe impact headaches from all the hiking. The next morning we met and had some good conversations with some telemarkers and a climber who passed on some knowledge to us rookies.

Now for the past two days I've been in bed sick, probably from overexcertion, trying to figure out if the trip was worth it. Here's my conclusion: As I came over the top of the second slope and kicked some quick turns down a 45 degree slope in August I was definitly diggin' it for about 45 seconds. However, for it to be worth it I will need three things: 1. A good pair of hiking boots. 2. Crampons and ice axe. 3. To be in much better shape. So, there you have it, my first backcountry trip start to finish. If anyone has any words of wisdom or advice for a couple of rookies feel free to e-mail me other wise have a great time out there.

Lance P.

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2002-09-16 05:01:24