Cranking up Mount Rainer
I woke with a start to the sound of voices and the clank of mountaineering gear. It was the crew coming up from the low camp. “Wreatha, get up.” I said, prodding my wife, “We’ve over slept. What time is it?” I found my headlamp and saw that it was not even 2:30 am – they weren’t supposed to be here for another hour.
“Come on you slackers” Dave Blanchard yelled shaking our tent “We’ve got a mountain to climb!” “We’re up, we’re up!” I replied testily and started the familiar morning routine — chew a dry cookie, pull on some polypropylene underwear, and take a swig of water. The water wasn’t frozen, hardly even cold. I checked the cook pot sitting on the snow in the tent foyer, not frozen either. Bad news! The snow was going to be soft, mushy, not good for Snow Pod traction.
Outside the boys organized gear, flaked ropes and uncovered the Snow Pod. “You ready Peter?” “Yeah” I replied and scooted out the tent threw my legs over the edge and grabbed hold of Ira’s shoulders. “One, Two, Three” and we’re in the Snow Pod. I snap on the safety or belay lines and we are ready to go. My belayers and I call to each other, “Belay on!” “Cranking!” “Crank-On”, and we start up the Hogsback ridge. It is 700 vertical feet of 45-degree slope leading to the 11,200′ summit of Mt. Hood. In the quiet of a windless, star-lit night, the mountain seems like an old friend.