This is it. The final seven summits of the entire 50 states: Mt. Ranier (WA), Mt. Hood (WA), Kings Peak (UT), Gannett Peak (WY), Granite Peak (MT), Borah Peak (ID) and Mauna Kea (HI). None of them small; none of them willing to go without a fight.
July 16 - Mauna Kea, HI (13,804 ft) - PEAK 50!!!
At 43 days, 3 hours and 51 minutes, the team summited Mauna Kea, the highest point in Hawaii. This is high point #50 in a long road of high points. Congratulations team! You did it!
July 15 - The View from Granite Peak, MT
(photos credited to Charley Mace - Thank you, Charley!)
The team started off today around noon for Granite Peak. They are taking the West Rosebud route. Granite Peak is considered a 4+ mountain and is one of the most difficult of the lower 48 high peaks. The route takes you past several lakes and up to Froze to Death Plateau. The elevation gain is pretty stiff. The plan is to summit tomorrow - SPOT will come up as soon they reach the top.
The climb for Gannett started on Thursday morning out of Pinedale, WY. For the first time on the expedition, the team used four-hoof drive - in the form of horses - for much of Thursday's trek to the trailhead. The horses were able to take them fairly close to the trail, much farther than originally anticipated with the late season snow.
The team made camp, slept for a short bit and then left at 12:30 am on Wednesday for the summit. The first part was pretty dodgy - there was no moon and a snowfield stood between them and the summit. Night starts in the west definitely have their advantage as "afternoon" storms can take place as early as 11 in the morning. However, the downside to starting so early is that the team was basically climbing via feel and starlight.
However the day was theirs and at 8:41 in the morning, the team summited peak #48, Gannett Peak, the highest point in Wyoming.
The team started out this morning for Gannett Peak. There is high late snow pack in both Wyoming and Montana meaning more alpine conditions and hauling via skis for the team. Gannett requires horses to get to the peak so they will pack in about 10-12 miles and then hike to the summit. The summit should happen sometime tomorrow.
July 7 - The Saga of Kings Peak
Kings Peak was a bear of a mountain. The hike started as a a 28 mile round trip which ended up being 30 miles due to high rushing rivers. The team considered taking it in two days, but really needed a day to recover post Ranier and Hood. So the climb started at the crack of 11:00 pm at night. Summit was 10:30 am and finished at 6:00 pm. That's over a marathaon of hiking in the time span of an ultra-marathon.
The team is resting in Pinedale, WY today with plans to tackle Gannett Peak at the crack of dawn on Thursday.
With today's summit of Mt. Hood, the team is finally done with the Pacific Crescent - Denali, Rainier, Hood and Whitney. It is day 30. Peak #45.
The team is off to Salt Lake City for a day of rest before tackling Kings Peak at 13,538 ft.
July 3 - The Story of Ranier
First and most importantly - the team safely summited Mt. Ranier yesterday (June 2) at around 10:00 am and were back in Seattle by the evening. The team is currently on their way to Mt. Hood for an attempt tomorrow.
The team started up Ranier on Wednesday. They made it safely to Camp Muir after about 8 hours of climbing, were turned back less than a 1,000 feet from the summit. Holed up at Camp Muir for night, they decided to try again on Thursday morning.
After an alpine start and after a long, slow morning at about the 13,400 mark, the snow and wind had turned into a full-on blizzard. It was time to call it for Ranier. The team went descended back to Camp Muir to prepare to leave, but the storm had effectively trapped them in. Nothing to do but to wait it out.
Sleeping is tough under those conditions and on Friday when the team awoke - early again - the weather had broken and the winds had died down. It was, after all that, a pretty good summit morning. What a difference 12 hours makes. So they took off about 6 am and by 10 had hit the summit. As the pictures show, they had the summit pretty much to themselves. Then it was a quick descent and some very big sighs of relief.
The team left Camp Muir this morning at 12:00 am and finally had to cry uncle at about 8:30 am - less than 1,000 feet from the summit. The weather on Ranier this spring/summer has been a bear - and this morning the winds had picked and the snow was flying.
The team is back at Camp Muir where they will huddle up and, weather willing, make another attempt tomorrow. If this weather pattern continues to hold, they will move on to Mt. Hood and return to catch Ranier on the flip side.
As expected, the team is disappointed but safety always comes first. On a mountain like Rainier, it pays to play it on the cautious side.
June 30 - Ranier!!!
Yesterday, the team spent the day traveling from Columbus to Seattle. It has been 26 days since the team pushed off of Denali, and Rainier, the highest point in Washington state at 14,411 feet, is peak number 44. Rainier is an active stratovolcano and its 26 major glaciers and 36 square miles of permanent snowfields and glaciers makes Ranier the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48.
The team is climbing via the Ingraham Direct route and ascended 5,000 feet today and to camp tonight at Camp Muir (10,500 feet.) The weather is being a bit tricksy - they are going to leave for a summit attempt tomorrow at 2:00 am, but can hole up and rest in the event that summit conditions don't look favorable.
The team is thrilled to be back in the snow and alpine conditions. Taking a break at the lower altitude states over the last 10 days or so has allowed the team to rest and gain some strength. They are primed to head into the home stretch.