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Thoughts from the top: Dangerous and iconic Mount Rainier beckons many climbers
22nd August, 2014
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Inside the cabin, four men wearing mountaineering boots talked of waiting for the fog to lift as a park ranger, 9,010 feet below Mount Rainier's summit, listened on his phone. The weather was warming. Two and a half inches of rain fell the day before, and that could mean feet of new snow on the glaciers, he learned.

He hung up the phone.

These conditions, the ranger said, are avalanche conditions.

It's a simple equation: snow plus heat equals wet, loose snow — snow that if clinging to a steep enough slope could rip down and wash out climbers, camps and lives.

"So you know," the park ranger said, "be ultra cautious."

Two hours later, my friend, Josh Bossin, and I left the ranger's hut and hiked in the blowing fog from the base of the mountain known as Paradise up a snow field to base camp.

We had just bought two climbing passes for Mount Rainier and told the ranger we would be back down the next day.

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