Epilogue

Chips and Beer To Go

With our arrival in Paradise on Good Friday over one month ago, the Männer and I marked the end of a journey. We had completed our winter seminar with RMI on Mount Rainier.


Chips and Beer To Go

Chips and Beer To Go

A quick beer with the group christened our return to Seattle and our eventual departures back home. We finished our trip back at the house where we started. Like heros with a thousand faces, we had come full circle, but the journey was not over.

Tres Amigos

Tres Amigos

In the days following our return, I was pensive. My youngest daughter’s third birthday was on the same day as Easter. We celebrated both occasions in Seattle with my family, my parents, and Jefe, who had stayed in Seattle for a few more days. As my daughter opened her presents and we ate homemade bread and fresh kielbasa sausage, I felt as if something was missing. My delight was tempered with residual disappointment. I could not celebrate.

Opening Presents

Opening Presents

After an entire year of hard work, I didn’t see a return on my investment. I spent hours in the gym, rose for early morning hikes on weekends, took classes with the DAV, tied knots at work during conference calls, and bought a new wardrobe of equipment. My financial costs and time expenditure were significant. I thought Rainier was a calculated risk. I figured the Mountain would not be easy to climb in winter, but I assumed we would at least get a chance.

Adventure Checklist

Adventure Checklist

The news about the death of a climber we had passed and second degree frostbite on my pinky finger reminded me of our good luck. The guides made the right decision not to make a summit attempt. I was unable to test my physical limits; but, my preparations were not in vain.

Schurman Rock at Camp Long

Schurman Rock at Camp Long

During our remaining vacation in Seattle, a trip to Mountaineers Books, bouldering on Shurman Rock with the kids, lunch on a Pacific beach, and a short hike in a rain forest at Olympic National Park reminded me of past adventures. I couldn’t cross Rainier off my list, but I did gain more experience on the Mountain.

Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean

The six days of instruction and training were my first exposure to an alpine environment in the winter. During the seminar, I learned how to dry clothing in a sleeping bag, how to stay warm, and how to keep myself occupied during a heavy storm. These skills are essential for success and survival at Denali’s even greater extremes.

Reading in Bed

Reading in Bed

I now see the seminar on Rainer as a tune-up after a few thousand miles. I didn’t rev my engine, but, I did put more miles on my odometer. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

Rainier in the Distance

Rainier in the Distance

As the disappointment of the last month fades and the Pascal cycle reaches its ceremonial peak, I rejoice. I have now had time to lick my wounds and swallow my pride. Rainier was a stepping stone, a waypoint on a longer journey. The arrival of spring signals that it is time for new projects. I have much more to learn, and I need to revise my training plan. I may have quenched my thirst on the Mountain, but I am not finished yet.

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3 replies
  1. Franz says:

    Wow, dear Jeff, when I read your story and apply it to your “adventure checklist” it sure was an adventure!!

    It made me a bit sad to read that you did not see a return to your investment… I think I see it in your face on the photo!

    No matter if you made it to the summit or not due to the weather conditions, you learned a lot, became a better mountaineer and had a good time.

    I am really astonished what you accomplished my friend!
    many hugs,
    Franz

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