Mt. Hood - May 16-17, 2009 - South Side via Old Chute
Following up on the successful first climb of Hood in 2008, this is where the Pentaquest officially began. We encountered a severely injured climber, witnessed the subsequent helicopter rescue (here's a link to the story), and came very close to turning back due to falling rocks and ice. But our stalwart climbing leaders from Timberline Mountain Guides helped us stay the course and we reached the summit via the Old Chute.
Mt. St. Helens - June 13, 2009 - Worm Flows
MSH is the only mountain climbed every year of the Pentaquest, and it all started with this one. Early morning clouds up the winter route turned to perfect bluebird conditions above the USGS seismic sensor. Some of us struggled (me), others excelled (the rest of the group). But we all reached the crater rim. Highlights included the sound of ice from the cornice breaking off and reverberating across the amphitheater of the crater, and an epic glissade down the climbing route.
Mt. Adams - July 24-25, 2009 - South Spur
Our group of four hiked up to the Lunch Counter and camped for the night, and then woke up around sunrise for the climb up Piker's Peak and final ascent to the summit. The sunset and night sky from the campsite alone made the trip worthwhile, but successfully reaching the top and seeing across the Cascades to Rainier - and knowing we'd be there in two weeks - brought the experience to an entirely different level.
South Sister - August 1-2, 2009 - South Ridge
On the drive to South Sister from Portland we passed through an intense lightning storm resulting in many fires across central Oregon. After camping at the Devil's Lake trailhead for the night, we woke up early (passing through an almost literal cloud of mosquitoes) and reached the summit via the long path up the south side of the mountain. During the descent, we watched a helicopter drop water on one of the fires started the night before.
Mt. Rainier - August 7-8, 2009 - Disappointment Cleaver
The capstone climb of our first season, we didn't know what to expect as we left Paradise and hiked up to Camp Muir. After dinner and a few hours of fitful sleep, we left our tents around midnight and began our final ascent through Cathedral Gap, across the Ingraham Glacier and Ingraham Flat, up the Disappointment Cleaver, and finally the zigzag of switchbacks up the Emmons Glacier. Once at the crater rim, we pushed ourselves to walk across the snow field and reach the true summit at Columbia Crest. There's no doubt each member of our group still thinks about the trip: listening to ice breaking off the Nisqually Glacier, catching the first light of the morning from high up the mountain, struggling through the nauseating effects of altitude, jumping across crevasses, and feeling the wind on our faces from the highest point in the state of Washington. The 2009 season ended on a high note, and provided momentum to keep the Pentaquest going into 2010.