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Mercer Island dads tackle Mount Rainier
Four Mercer Island dads decided at the beginning of the year to tackle a big climb: Mount Rainier.
The Island residents, all in their 40s, made it to the summit last week, enjoying clear weather, just days before the mountain claimed the lives of several climbers and a National Park Ranger.
The group included Jeff Blumenthal, Richard Aylen, Bert Loosmore and friend Jameson Morrell — who used to live on the Island.
Blumenthal’s brother-in-law, Jeff Ward, works with North Cascades Mountain Guides and is an experienced guide. Ward has climbed Rainier over 100 times and guided the team to the top of the mountain.
None of the four in the group had ever climbed Rainier, but began training at the beginning of the year.
The group ran the Mercer Island Half Marathon in March as part of their training.
“Bert had a few injuries and couldn’t run,” wrote Blumenthal of the team’s preparations. “The group also went on numerous hikes to prepare, but knew this would be a challenge as we are all in our early 40s — and not exactly fit for high altitude climbing.”
Finally, it was time for the group to head up the mountain. The team left for Paradise last Monday, June 18, finding the temperature in the mid-30s and facing rain and snow.
“That morning the temperature on the summit was 8 degrees. It wasn’t looking good and in the prior two weeks only a few teams had reached the summit due to harsh weather,” said Blumenthal.
The group hiked to Camp Muir by Monday evening, and as they neared the 10,000-foot mark, the weather cleared.
“It was cool, but dry. Tuesday morning we hiked to the Ingraham Flats at 11,200 feet to establish high camp,” he said. “After a large dinner, we went to bed early Tuesday evening and rose at 2 a.m., Wednesday. After gearing up with headlamps, crampons, ice axes and harnesses, we started the slow accent up Disappointment Cleaver. The sun rose a little after 4 a.m. and the visibility improved with clear sunny skies. We were on the summit about 7:30 a.m. and spent a half an hour enjoying the views from the highest peak in the state.”
Blumenthal said it was a great experience, but a challenging one.
“It was a fantastic experience,” he said. “There were certainly a few areas where we all felt a little out of our comfort zone. It was steep and tight in many areas of the route. As we saw in the news yesterday, a misstep could be deadly. Aside from a few sunburns and blisters, we all returned tired and happy.”