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april 1, 2009

yesterday, for whatever reason i decided to listen to some bebo norman… i haven’t listened to his music in a LONG time. and it was such a profound time with the Lord while i listened to the very music that helped get me through the hardest time of my life, thus far. it brought me to a place of realizing just what the Lord had done, and WOW, what an amazing work he has done!

I Will Life My Eyes (by Bebo Norman)

God, my God, I cry out
Your beloved needs You now
God, be near, calm my fear

And take my doubt
Your kindness is what pulls me up
Your love is all that draws me in

I will lift my eyes to the Maker
Of the mountains I can’t climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
Of the oceans raging wild
I will lift my eyes to the Healer
Of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You

God, my God, let Mercy sing
Her melody over me
God, right here all I bring
Is all of me

‘Cause You are and You were and You will be forever
The Lover I need to save me
‘Cause You fashioned the earth and You hold it together, God
So hold me now

this song in particular, i thought of mt. rainier and not making it to the top. not making it to the top of the mountain God created, the maker of the mountain i can’t climb. and that’s just it, the attempt to climb was the goal of God, while i thought the goal was to make it to the top; it was on the side of the mountain that the Lord showed me what i needed to know. that was His goal, for me to see that the God who created the mountains i can’t climb has plans for my life. and oh how i need Him so much right now and always! and i needed Him then too, but now i know and that it isn’t just on the side of the mountain or in the rough times, but in the good times and in the blessing, i need Him just as much! His presence is so necessary in EVERY SEASON. to be desperate for Him at all times is the only way for me to live.

oh Lord, how i love you! and i can’t help but smile, cry and laugh all at once, the maker of the mountains i can’t climb loves me! WOW! and THAT is all i need!

He was the same God when i was in despair, in a place of utter desperation as He is right now. He meets me in all stages and seasons of life, I AM BLESSED to know my God and be loved by Him. hallelujah!

mt_rainier_framed

Lord, may i never forget this time, where you have brought me from. may i always remember how great You are, how small i am, yet how You love me. help me to never keep this to myself, but profess Your love all the days of my life!
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i serve a mighty God who hears His children and answers their prayers. and this experience reinforced that fact for me. i don’t really know where to start but what i do know is God showed up moment after moment through experience and people over the four day summit climb.

ephesians 3:20 says God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. i saw this on our climb. i didn’t make it to the summit of mt. rainier (this time) but God showed me how much this journey, 10 months in the making, was about so much more than just reaching the top of the mountain. He answered every prayer that was prayed and answered it beyond what i expected.

we started with orientation on wednesday and then thursday we hit a snow field for climbing school. it was a very fun day of learning all sorts of things that i never thought of, including how to “save” ourselves should we fall during the climb. the next day we would begin the two day summit attempt. orientation and the snow school were a huge answer to prayer as they truly calmed anxieties over how to pack properly and layer clothing properly as well. just the beginning of God showing up : )

(on our way back from snow school – thanks for the pic rick!)

friday morning we drove to paradise and hiked to camp muir. it was pretty crazy to start in pretty warm weather (pia and i had on our long underwear with shorts over them) and end up hiking through lots and lots of snow ending at camp muir, home for the night.

(that’s another team climbing up where we had just come from)

(pia and i on our way up to camp muir – lunch break, this was when i decided it was snickers and m&m’s time, pia had cold pizza, yum!)

(camp muir: we slept in that box)

once we got to camp muir our guides told us what to expect in the next few hours, how to deal with mild forms of altitude sickness and then told us we had to go to bed soon. i had the beginning of a pretty killer headache from the altitude but i did the pressure breathing that the guides recommended and prayed and prayed for it to go away, and it did!

we got to camp muir at 4/4:30 pm and were to be in bed by 6 pm for a wake-up sometime between midnight and 1 am. it wasn’t easy to sleep but i had my ipod and listened to the good old brooklyn tabernacle choir. pia woke up at one point and smacked me in the face (supposedly by accident – haha) because a mouse had run across her head. i told her she was crazy, but in fact, we’re pretty sure a mouse did run over her head!

(jen and i shortly after we were supposed to be in bed – that’s cloud cover below us!)

at about 12:30 am the guides came in and “woke us up.” it was time to eat, layer up and get all our gear on and ready. the wind was howling like crazy. personally, i had never experienced that kind of wind in my life. dirt was flying everywhere but we were getting ready to go. at this point, pia decided not to attempt the summit. she didn’t feel like her footing was totally secure on the way up to camp muir and felt that with the wind, she just wasn’t quite steady enough and comfortable with being roped in to other people (for fear of taking them down with her). so sven (one of the team members) and i walked down to the start of the glacier, got our crampons on and roped in to our guide pete. with ice axes in hand, we followed the rest of the group across the cowlitz glacier toward the summit (camp muir is at 10,000 feet and our first break was at 11,200-ish at the “flats”).

as we moved across the glacier the wind was sincerely wicked. everyone, including guides, was getting knocked around a bit. once we crossed the glacier we made our way onto cathedral gap (rocks and lots of rocks). the wind stopped us a few times, forcing the front of the team to take cover as to not get shoved off their feet. at one point pete yelled to sven and i to move towards him very quickly, we ran as best we could on the narrow (and i mean narrow) path to get to him. praise the Lord we made it in time as a rather large rock just missed sven. i was praying this entire time that God would protect us from the rocks that make up the mountain He created.

by the time we made it to the first break, through rock falls and wind, i was pretty freaked out. the way the wind was blowing made me feel like i was a mere 95 lbs. and i know i’m not a big girl, but i sure am not a small one either! when i heard that the wind might get worse, i knew i needed to really consider what i was doing. our guides were wonderful, absolutely incredible, and told me i was physically ready to make this summit. mentally, i knew i was not 100%. i was torn, should i contonue on or turn back with a team that was going back? at that moment, sven put his hand on my shoulder and told me it was ok. that simple gesture was just what i needed at that moment. he then reached into his pack, pulled out his camera and asked me if i had read the quote on the back of the door at camp muir. i hadn’t, so he showed it to me:

God used sven in that moment to show me, it was ok for me to turn around. it was ok for me to head back to what felt safe to me at that moment. i can’t explain how scared i was up there, and surprised that i was scared. i can tell you i’m still struggling with the disappointment that comes from not reaching the goal you have trained for for so long. but like i said in the begining of this post, there was much more to this summit attempt then reaching, or in my case, not reaching the summit. most of the team made it and man, i am so proud of each of them!! that was not an easy fete by any means!

for so long i thought the purpose of this journey was to summit a mountain, and while i struggle with not reaching that goal, i praise God for showing me the many other blessings and privileges that came out of this journey. i praise God that He has given me the privilege of seeing His hand move so vividly throughout these four days.

i praise God for our guides, we could not have asked for anyone better (not even our prayers were as good as these guys). each one of them, alex, pete and pat, is so well rounded, grounded and clearly understand what it means to be a visitor on the mountain. each one so humble and encouraging. alex was the same guide that took my friend cindy and her husband graham up mt. rainier three years ago – cindy is the friend pia and i met while training on the stairs. coincidence? heck no! that was God, all the way. pete was the same guide that took cindy and her husband graham to mt. baker and was his guide for a seminar course. again, totally God.

our team was incredible as well. we prayed for unity amongst the team members and i tell you, i don’t think you could find a more unified group of strangers anywhere. each person was willing to step out for the other, and each one brought something special to the team. there is no doubt in my mind that the Lord intended each of us to meet. sven, mark, eric, jen, josh, dave and rick, you guys rock! i don’t know why we had the privilege of journeying together, perhaps our paths were only meant to cross for those few days, or maybe these relationships will remain through time (i hope so), regardless, i know with all my heart, God intended for each of us to meet.

i went into this adventure 10 months ago as one woman (can i call myself a woman? perhaps girl is better?) and ended it a different one. i hope to one day reach the summit of mt. rainier, but until then, i will keep praising God for all the ways He answers prayers, makes divine appointments, and directs our paths even when we don’t see the turns coming.

the Summit for Someone team and our guides!

PS – when i got home, my roommate did the best thing ever! she had a snickers blizzard DQ icecream cake waiting for me! seriously, how awesome is she? and it is decorated with a mountain! she also knew i didn’t make it to the summit, but decided regardless of reaching the top or not, i made it : ) praise the Lord for amazing friends!

God is so good! this morning i was spending time with Him and He gave me such a sweet Word from the Bible.

isaiah 40: 9-11:

You who bring good tidings to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
and his arm rules for him.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

isaiah 40: 29-31:

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

all i can say is “heck yeah!” to stand on the summit of rainier and witness the glory of God just sounds so remarkable. i can’t believe the it is here and that we’re leaving tomorrow. the time has flown by! i am so thankful for all the times throughout this journey that i have felt the presence of the Lord, His sweet, loving presence, pushing me forward, edging closer to our goal. and i am so thankful to Him for continually showing me through His Word and circumstances, that He is with me and will be my strength and my protector. i just can’t help but praise Him for the journey thus far and for what i know He will do in the days to come!

well it’s almost time to head west so shelly and i met pia at the northbrook REI and got the last minute items we need for the trip. here are some pics from our adventure in the outdoor “candy shop” we love!

my feet and shelly’s feet in the world’s ugliest shoes. i know so many people that love these things, but i can’t get past how ugly they are to even consider the comfort is worth wearing them.

in lieu of a head lamp, pia discovered this handy hat with a light in the visor. after careful thought and consideration we decided perhaps she should stick to the actual headlamp, but it was a tough decision.

we’re taking these with us, not sure if we’ll use them, don’t think i’ll tell you either. that will most likely be left out of the final trip report : )

one week from today we will be leaving the flatlands of the midwest for the peaks of washington sate, and i have to admit, something is quite off right now. i didn’t really get a single good night’s sleep in france and i haven’t since i have been home either. every night i seem to fall into that strange shallow sleep where you know you are dreaming but don’t care to wake yourself up. and all my dreams have been totally bizarre, making no sense at all – especially since i am not one to dream a lot. however, there is one constant theme, a mountain is always involved in some way, shape or form (go figure).

what i have realized through these restless nights, the climb i did in france and the anticipation of mt. rainier, is that i really have absolutely no control over the end game. i have done all i can do, i have trained harder for this than anything in my life, i have read and read and read about what i should know and do in advance, i have all the gear i could possibly need and even reserved the things i don’t have. i plan to drink tons of water on the way up to combat altitude sickness and have more determination to reach the top than i’ve ever had to do anything in my life (including finishing the marathons i’ve run).

but in the end, i am at the mercy of the weather, altitude acclimatization and the temperament of the mountain that day (if that makes sense). and as i linger in this place of unknowns, i keep hearing the Lord say, “trust me.” He created the mountain i plan to summit, He controls the weather, He formed and fashioned this body that i have pushed to the limits. He is in control and i need to rest in that and be peaceful. i can not forget what He has already shown me: He is my protector, my salvation, my comforter, my keeper, my Father, my Savior, my redeemer, my friend. He is my everything. and with Him all things are possible.

so i ask you to pray for me, to pray for pia, to pray for our guides, and to pray for all the people we will be climbing with. i ask you to pray that we would grow so much closer to our God through this adventure, that we would praise Him in the good and the bad, and trust Him and His will. that regardless of outcome He is sovereign and has control therefore, i have nothing to be anxious about.

thank you friends, i wish i could express to you the gratitude i truly feel in my heart for all you prayer warriors interceding on our behalf.

this song just seems too perfect for this time:

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and
Friend
Who would have thought that a Lamb
Could rescue the souls of men
Oh you rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we’ve hopelessly lost the way

You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we’re falling before Your throne

shelly (sans weighted pack) joined pia and i today for a six hour hike with 50 lbs. we’re both totally pooped so all i can write, i have got to get to bed, is under the captions of the pics shelly took today.

getting ready to hike with my scary spice mountaineering boots. can you see my curled lip, not looking forward to this…

checking my hydration system

before we atarted hiking, mind you it is 6:30 a.m., i had my cranky pants on big time! shelly got it on camera, priceless.

pia trying to keep herself cool. it was scary hot and humid today.

i think this was the beginning of hour five, it felt like forever at that point.

we still managed laugh at the very end : ) i love this pic!

today the last bit of my gear came in the mail – woohoo!!! i am sooo excited : ) here’s a pic of me in my cube, where the box ‘o’ gear was delivered. i had to try some of it on… gave some folks a good laugh : )

in my right had is the ice axe, i really wanted to take off the cardboard covering, but somehow i didn’t think that was a good idea at work. in my left hand are my trekking poles. good times.

the weather was horrible saturday morning and pia and i were scheduled to do an eight hour hike with 55 lbs. we weren’t bothered by the rain, even the thunder and lightning were things we thought we might be able to push through, but the thought of potentially slipping on the wet stairs and hurting ourselves less than a month before the summit kinda freaked us out. so instead we went to EAC and opted to “hike” the stair climber and inclined treadmill. ugh, it was tough! we cut our time down to six hours since we were stuck inside and there was no “down hill” recovery time like when we go up and down the stairs. we made it through the day and were encouraged by so many people at the club. multiple employees cheered us on as well as patrons of the club. it was such a blessing. just another reminder of how God knows what we need and provides!

needless to say, with this crazy busy schedule, i haven’t had the time to cook and bake much at all. which has made me really sad. i’m not the best cook nor the best baker, but i love to do it. in fact, the kitchen in my condo is the main reason i bought the place. it’s huge and very practical. but tonight i made time and cooked dinner for shelly and i and baked some chocolate chip banana muffins to take into work. it was so therapeutic to have that time in the kitchen. i’m looking forward to taking back my schedule after the summit and trying out many, many new recipes!

 balsamic-glazed salmon, bok choy and trader joe’s rice

the muffins : )

i felt like i could keep going if i had to! this saturday we hiked up and down those stairs we have come to know all too well for most of those nine hours and i actually felt “good” afterwards. it was incredible!

i had the worst attitude when we started too. i mean the worst! i’m usually pretty good at embracing the “suck it up, you have to do it” attitude. but for some reason, i was seriously resisting finding anything good in this pending nine hour pilgrimage. i was totally stuck on the fact that i was going to be hiking longer than i am typically at work. and then i was also thinking about how i have run three marathons and none of that training requires this much of me. so see, my attitude was HORRIBLE!

but alas (oh how i love to say that) the Lord blessed our obedience and showed me that i just might be physically ready for this challenge!

if you read this blog (which clearly you are right now) i ask that you please pray for pia and i when it comes to summit. we have been diligently working our little tails off, but we are at the mercy of altitude adjustment and weather. if you have bee reading this blog with any kind of consistency, you know as well that i believe in a God who is mightier than the weather man, and made the mountain we are hoping to stand on top of. so i trust, that if it is the Lord’s will He will get us up there safely : )

thanks for your support and prayers as we come into the home stretch of this incredible adventure!

today was a tough hiking day. it started out “normal” with pia acting as photographer and me trying to be a tough looking model in my new boots (yes, i bought the wrong boots and had to buy new ones). when we were talking about what my pose should look like (isn’t this what every mountaineer does before they attempt to hike for seven hours with 45 lbs, don’t they all pose for a picture) the first thought that came to mind was sporty spice. can you believe that? all i could think of was this one halloween night when my high school girlfriends and i thought it was a good idea, since there were five of us, to dress up as the spice girls. it was absolutely hysterical at the time and certainly now, one of those, seriously, did we do that moments- haha! anyway, i remember the picture we took that evening of all of us and i believe sporty and scary spice (anessa and laura) struck a pose much like this one : )

so those are my new boots and me trying to do my best sporty/scary spice impression. somehow i don’t think sporty or scary would approve of the smile?

anyway, so my new boots gave me a HUGE blister and within the first 90 minutes i was back at the car putting on my sneakers. climbing stairs and hills for the next seven hours just wasn’t going to happen in these guys.

after i changed my shoes we met the nicest woman on the stairs, well not literally, we were standing at the top. turns out she climbed rainier three years ago! it was so perfect, she spent the next hour or so with us answering all our questions. such a huge blessing! she even showed us some super steep hills to climb to try to spice it up a bit. i think we have forged a new friendship : )

needless to say, i treated myself to some DQ  : )

i wanted to get a picture, and maybe i still will at some point, of my really stinkin’ sore calves! last night pia and i went to the gym with our 45 lb packs and “hiked” the stairclimber for close to two hours. it really was not fun. and all it did was give us a preview of this saturday, hiking for seven hours with 45 lbs – ugh : (

so in case you can’t tell already, we really need your prayers. neither of us would even consider giving up, but man this is tough stuff. i really don’t think my calves will be back to “normal” until a week after the summit!

thanks for reading my complaints : )

this past saturday, according to our training schedule, we had to hike for five hours with 35 lbs. on our backs. it was super tough as we went to palos again this weekend and pretty much trekked up and down the 800+ stairs for 4 hours (we walked a little in between intervals). needless to say, it is tuesday and my calves and quads are still sore!

here’s a closer pic of THE stairs!

after a full day of this i was pooped, but definitely not too tired for dairy queen!

sarah and i cheesin’ for the camera with our DQ : ) i was exhausted but a super happy camper!

my good friend colleen sent this pic to me. it’s of her husband’s dad summiting mt. mckinely (aka denali) in the early 70’s. check out that gear! i am so thankful for the technology of today that gives us seriously waterproof, super warm, super strong gear, including packs that fit way better than the one in this pic.

he must have been a really cool man. to have that kind of courage to summit the largest peak in north america at a time when we didn’t have the safety measures we have now… i can’t even imagine. simply incredible.

thanks for sharing with me colleen!

well, it’s coming down to the wire. 49 days till the summit but only 19 days left for fundraising and i have $900 to go. if you’re interested in supporting big city mountaineers through my climb, please click on the links on this page and you can get to my donation page.

thanks for all the support and prayers : )  you all rock!

today my mountain hardware down parka came in the mail! woohoo!! apparently this piece of gear/clothing will keep me super warm over my three other layers when we have to stop and sit in the snow. never thought i would be this excited about a down jacket, but man, this thing is WARM!

that’s me being a total nerd, you can tell i wasn’t a cheerleader! question: why do i get nerdier (is that a word?) and nerdier as i get older?? hmmm….

pia and i trecked up to wisonsin today to hike at kettle moraine state park. i must say, one of the coolest things about all this training is it’s forcing me to finally check out some of the great sate parks around the area.

this was a rather comical six hours on the trail and i thought i could describe it but, i think a bullet point list is the best way to go.

  • first encounter with the steroid enduced mosquitos, “my scalp! that punk bit my scalp! my scalp!”

(pointing out the enormous welts on my face)

  • who knew you had to put bug spray on your face!
  • mosquitos dive-bombing my neck
  • a carcass with its spine exposed in the middle of the trail (did not take a picture of that, ew!)

  • more worms than i ever care to see in one place at one time

(we walked through that and my feet were perfectly dry!)

  • learning that my boots really are water proof!

  • sneakers on the other hand are not
  • getting in the car at the end of the day, asking pia if she’d like AC. pia’s response as she roles up the car window, “goodbye nature!” we laughed : )

i’m sure many of you have been watching the news and witnessing, if not first-hand at least through your TV screen, the crazy weather all over this country right now. well, this morning my partner in crime on this crazy adventure forwarded me an article about the first 2008 death on Rainier.

it is not typical for rainier to experience a blizzard this late in the year, but clearly nothing is impossible.

please pray for the family of the man who died, especially his wife. i can’t even fathom what that must have been like for her and what the coming days of grief will bring.

please also bathe pia and i in prayer as we continue on this adventure and especially when we attempt to summit. i can honestly say that i am not afraid of dying on the mountain, but prayers for protection are always appreciated. i’m more concerned with altitude adjustment and that the weather would not prevent us from reaching the summit.

thank you for reading this and praying for us : )

today pia and hiked up and down the stairs at palos for three hours with 35 lbs. in our packs. the best part of the day, overhearing someone doing the same thing tell his friend, “unless i am in your will, you better slow down!” classic!

it was super hot and humid today and by the time we were done, you would have thought we had jumped in the pool (sorry for the gross picture). needless to say, the glacier on top of rainier sounds mighty alluring right now!

today we were faced with yet another challenge since we live in the flatlands of the midwest. we needed to hike for three hours with 25 lbs. and i had to be at a baby shower at 12:30 p.m. so, it was time to go hiking in the gym.  

the funny thing is, we kinda thought this was normal considering we live in a city and are training to summit a mountain. certainly people have seen this before, where else do urbanites go if there are not any hills in close proximity? but with all the looks we got, apparently this isn’t normal at all. it was actually quite comical and if i could have discreetly taken pictures of people’s “what the heck is that?” looks, i totally would have.

needless to say we did it. hopping back and forth between the stair-climber and inclined treadmills. surprisingly it went by really fast too. i finally gave into wearing shorts as well. i HATE shorts! but alas, it is way too hot in the gym and once chicago actually gets warm, i know it will be way too hot to wear pants while hiking. i’m hoping i can adjust to this shorts thing quickly…

so i can’t believe i am going to admit this, and not because i’m at all embarrassed or ashamed, but because i know that the second this gets out, all my comedic friends are going to have a field day with this…

working out five days a week for extended periods of time can get rather monotonous. so i thought it might be nice to spice it up a bit.

i was looking at the class schedule at my gym and noticed there wasn’t much offered that would sufficiently constitute cross-training, except for one class. the training schedule said two hours of cross-training tonight, hmmm. well, i thought, this class is one hour, that will make the time pass quickly. so i mentioned it to my friend ashley, knowing full well that she would get super geeked up about it. cardio hip-hop. yes, the white girl who wears pearls while climbing rock walls outside, thought it would be fun do try it out. i did take dance classes until i was 16 years old (who cares if that was more than 10 years ago – ouch! i can’t believe i can say that!)

anyway, it was a really fun class. yes, i totally looked like a fish out of water. hip-hop is clearly nothing like the jazz and tap classes i took growing, which i did know going into the class but tried not to think about. none-the-less, it was fun to get out there and try something different. i might even go back next friday! i definitely want to try the modern dance class, i think that’s probably more up my alley.

well, i’m off to let my friends completely roast me on this one…

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