‘It’s just such an amazing experience’

Islanders summited Mount Rainier in late July.

Amelia Han and Lexi Liu wouldn’t be denied from achieving their goal of summiting Mount Rainier.

In the Mercer Island scouts’ case, the second time was a charm and the duo — accompanied by a pair of adult troop leaders — hiked to the top of the stratovolcano and highest mountain in Washington state in late July. A few weeks earlier, the crew — which at that juncture featured two additional adults — halted its trek about 1,000 feet shy of the top due to weather issues.

Han, 14, and Liu, 15, who are members of girls Troop 678 of the Boy Scouts of America, were joined by assistant scout master Rachel Yu and Lexi’s father Jack Liu on the epic climb.

After beginning their trek part way up the mountain from Paradise Inn, the group hit Rainier for about 29 hours with lengthy hiking segments, resting at the Camp Muir halfway point, packing items and enjoying the spectacular view at the top. In total, they experienced a 16-mile round trip that featured a 10,000-foot elevation gain.

With a smile on her face, Han said that when their first trip ended short of the promised land, she noted, “By the end of this year, I’m going to be at the top, no matter what.”

Although the group was exhausted and cold from hiking on the snowy terrain and dealing with the altitude fluctuation, it was excitement that brought warmth into their coterie.

According to the National Park Service, an estimated more than 500,000 people have attempted to climb Mount Rainier — which ascends to 14,410 feet above sea level — with about 200,000 summiting.

For safety, all climbing groups are required to be connected to a rope harnessed and knotted to carabiner clips on each person.

“I was really relieved that we had got to the top and it felt like, ‘Oh my gosh, my hard work has paid off’ and I really made it,” Han added about their immense accomplishment and returning to the Paradise Inn safe and sound.

Matching Han’s smile, Lexi said she was relieved to summit Rainier and was proud of their achievement as they signed the notebook placed in a metal box at the top of the mountain.

“It was gratifying to see all of our hard work actually paid off by physical effort and us truly being there. It’s proof that we actually did what we wanted to do,” said Lexi, adding that the hike provided some solid father-daughter time with Jack.

Jack — who paired with Yu to summit Rainier for their second time — said he was impressed with the girls’ attitude and confidence in setting their goal and going for it. They showed him that anything’s possible, he added.

Yu said that after the scouts and their troop conquered the rugged back-country terrain on a 12-day hike last year at the Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico, they were determined and driven to tackle their next challenge.

“It’s just such an amazing experience,” said Yu, stressing that the girls participated in extensive first-aid, emergency and hiking training before embarking on their adventure.

Yu was touched as the girls dug deep into their beings to find the power to return to Rainier for a second go at the mountain. The girls said there were tough and easy sections of the trek along with some aches and pains, but they made it.

“Ever since I was younger, I think Mount Rainier has always been like a, ‘Oh, I will do this in the future,’” said Lexi, who was thrilled to make the final part of the hike from Camp Muir to the top after resting and focusing. “I think I was very encouraged by the thought that, ‘Oh, today is the day — I’m getting on the mountain.’”

The girls’ eyes light up when they discuss their dream hiking treks at Mount Denali in Alaska, Machu Picchu in Peru or some spots in Sweden.