Known originally by Native Americans at Talol, or “Mother of Waters,” Mount Rainer rises majestically from Washington’s Cascade Range. Standing a formidable 14,411 feet, Rainier is the highest mountain in the Cascades and the most topographically prominent peak in the lower 48 states. On a clear day, people may view Rainier’s spiraling peaks from as far away as Victoria, British Columbia, more than 150 miles to the north.
Summit for Someone climber Frank Martin participated on a Rainier expedition last year, enjoying the experience of a lifetime. Here’s his story…
BCM: What did you enjoy the most about your Rainier climb with SFS?
Frank: The journey was the most fun. I met some great people beforehand, and I had exciting opportunities to train leading up to the climb. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my friends who donated to my efforts. The climb itself was amazing. I had never felt so insignificant standing on top of that mountain.
BCM: What was the experience like, the scenery, the difficulty level and the feeling when you summited?
Frank: The experience was surreal. The sheer scale of that mountain was staggering. We started the ascent at 12:15 am and although it was pitch black, we had the moon lighting the way for us. During the descent, I had a much better view of the terrain, the different textures of snow, the crevasses, the rock faces—hard to believe we climbed that in the dark.
The difficulty was never really a factor for me. I was fatigued, but it was more of a slog to the top, instead of an all out scramble up rock faces—overall it was very manageable. The altitude however was challenging.
I felt relief and a strong sense of accomplishment when we crested the summit. I had spent over six months training and raising funds. It was one of those moments that will forever live in my mind, where nothing before it will be the same and everything after will have new perspective.
BCM: What was your fundraising strategy for the climb? What worked? What didn’t? Who did you approach?
Frank: My fundraising was not that complex. I weighed in heavy on my friends and family to help me raise the funds. I had one corporate sponsor that matched what I raised, ultimately taking me over the pledge goal. The social network was by far the most successful channel of all. That paired with one-on-one conversations, and some emailing, were my main sources of revenue.
BCM: How much money did you raise?
Frank: The total raised I think was just over $5,000.
BCM: What would you tell others who are considering climbing Rainier for the first time?
Frank: Practice ascending 4-mile hikes in 1-hour intervals with approximately 30 lbs on your back. That will be the toughest part of the climb for sure. I would also suggest spending some time at altitude beforehand.
BCM: Why is Big City Mountaineers important from your perspective?
Frank: BCM hits home for me in so many ways. I was raised in the mountains, and looking back on it now after having lived in several urban areas (NYC, Boston, etc.), I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. The basic skills I learned having my own little adventures in the woods have served me well in life. Self-reliance, discovery, teamwork, perseverance—I learned these things running around in the forest. Not to say that you can’t learn these skills in urban areas, but it was a privilege to have the mountains at my beck and call. I love that BCM provides children with the means to experience the mountains in the same way that I have.
If you’re interested in crossing Mount Rainier off of your “to do” list, give Darin Fearday a call at 303-271-9200. Also, check out Big City Mountaineer’s Summit for Someone program and our remaining 2012 Rainier climbing slots at: http://www.summitforsomeone.org/main.php?page=3&climb=338
Climb on friends!
Big City Mountaineers