Our Summit: The Climb
My group of seven set out in the early morning of July 14th. After checking in with the Ranger, we began to hike in from the trailhead carrying 45-55lbs packs. It was about a 3 hour hike into the Pinchot Wilderness.
Once we were at the base of the mountain the altitude was much higher and there was snow on the ground. At this point we began our ascent to high camp. This part of the climb was much more physically demanding as there was a good bit of scrambling through the rock, ice and snow.
Arrival at high camp same late in the evening. At an elevation of 9,000 feet, the breathing was different and it was cold. Everywhere the sun hit exposed skin it burned…on the face, the hands and even the lips. You can’t burn a campfire at this elevation so we had a small gas burner to continuously melt snow for drinking water. This type of elevation squeezes the hydration from your body. I was drinking 8-10 liters of water per day. We set up camp which was modest at best. We boiled pasta shells for dinner with no sauce, but we were happy to have it all the same. We gobbled it down and went right to bed. The sun did not set until about 10pm that night.
Our final push to summit began at 3am. At this point only 4 climbers were ascending. One climber had been taken off the mountain from altitude sickness. One was injured and one had backed out. We were pumped but had a long stretch in front of us. Our climb consisted of another 4,000 vertical feet. This was going to take five hours of straight climbing to reach the peak. The pitches of the climb were death defying at times. I really had to push myself both physically and mentally to keep going.
By our final push to summit, we had lost everyone else to injury and out of the seven climbers, only two of us were making the final summit ascent. We had finally reached the goal of our summit climb, above the cloud line and could no longer see the mountains below or the prominent summits of Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainer. It was an ecstatic feeling that high up.
Next, we had to climb back down and then hike out of the wilderness. We did not return to the trailhead until 5pm that evening, totally exhausted yet fulfilled.
The climb was exceptional and I was very pleased. Even more so, I was excited about the opportunity I had been given. Not just to climb, or train with my children, but also the opportunity that I was given to help raise money for Levine Children’s Hospital. I am grateful to all of the clients and employees of CBS Radio that came together to help us raise $3,000 for this great cause. I couldn’t have asked for better.