July 1996

Mt. Rainier is known in Washington as "The Mountain." Visible from any high point in the state, it dominates the Seattle skyline, a constant lure for those stuck in the city on a clear day. Even though the snow is variable, and the ascent long and tedious, most backcountry skiers harbor a secret desire to bite their edges into its icy summit at least once in their life.

My British friend, Neil McAdie, and I were more interested in technical rock climbing when he came to visit in the summer of 96, but bad weather sent us scurrying home from Washington Pass. A few days hanging around the house had us anxious to put Neil's few remaining days to good use, but bad conditions precluded technical routes.

My Volcanic Ski Boogie partners, Eric Roose and Bob Knowles, were heading up for their first climb of The Mountain, so Neil and I tagged along. Since it was their first time up, Bob and Eric decided to leave the skis at home and concentrate on getting to the top. It was a good decision, making for a quick and enjoyable climb, but they were quite jealous of me on the descent when the snow turned to perfect corn around 12,000 ft.

I carried my Sony Hi-8 video camera on the climb, and Neil took over to film the descent. Eric was our still photographer - all photos on this page were taken on Fuji Provia 100 with his Yashica T4.

High camp at 10,000 ft. on the Emmons flats.

Steamboat prow rises above the valley clouds behind our camp here on the Emmons flats. I made a couple of nice runs on the slurpie smooth slope above camp that evening.


The gusty wind blowing across the mountain the last couple thousand feet made carrying skis a pain, but this beautiful sunrise made up for it.

Summit slopes Emmons Glacier

The snow here was typical, icy wind blown crust in weird layers, interspersed with occasional pillows of soft new snow that fell the day before. Luckily this section is not very steep (none of this route is), or crevassed. Just a few of the strenuous turns required up here got my head pounding, and my lungs gasping. I was happy to wait every couple hundred feet for Neil to walk by and set up for another video shot.

Summit slopes Emmons Glacier

500 feet below the summit the snow was better, with a smoother surface, but still a bit crusty. Upper Curtis ridge in the background.

12,000 ft. on Emmons Glacier

This section was great. The snow had turned to smooth corn, and the air was thicker so I could crank off a number of turns without burning myself out.

Watch out for that crevasse Jim!

This looks more radical than it was. Cruising on nice snow I just made a sweeping GS turn above this crevasse. If I was a true rad dude in an "extreme" ski movie I would have jumped it, but I was having too much fun to break my legs.