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6 Dudes, 1 Big Mountain, No Cups

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Gaper Day 2015 went off with a bang, the fat lady sang, and we hung up our skis for the 2015 season. Cheers to another good season. Right? Wrong. Not five days later we panicked. My new passport arrived, the weather went blue, and a bunch of us piled into cars and drove down to Mt Rainier, in search of one of those classic suffer fests that would put us in our place and remind us to just enjoy summer for what it is.

Things got off to a rocky start when we checked-in for climbing permits. The whole National Forest scene is a little other-worldly for Canadian skiers who are used to just roaming in the mountains wherever the hell they please, pooping without poo bags along the way. While I bumbled through their gear check-list with questions like “We didn’t bring any pickets did we?”, others joked around the route map throwing out all sorts of ideas about where we might camp, climb and ski. It was obvious this plan had come together 24 hours earlier, and the Ranger wasn’t having it. The look and tone she gave as we left the building packed some serious doubt. I think she figured we’d just party in the parking lot instead.

But ‘ski season’ had only ended 5 days earlier, so we were still at least half ready to rip. Gear came together, then we threw on our bags and headed up hill. The ski plan was easy – hit the Emmons Glacier, then Steamboat Prow to Inter Glacier for some bonus corn. The hard part was deciding where to stash the Rainier beers along the way.

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Up, up and away, with a quick sleep and recharge along the way, we slogged our way up from snow line to show time (the summit). Hey that’s like a poem. Wouldn’t have been able to pull off that kind of mental wizardry during the last 2000 ft up Rainier. While the A Team shredders like Hoji and Andre were pinning it towards the summit as if they were worried it would erupt, myself and Slick Rick were taking turns dragging imaginary anchors up the final stretch.

The never ending flow of non-skiing mountaineers descending from failed summit bids provided hours of entertainment along the way, and an important lesson learned… don’t ask climbers if they got to the top. It’s like asking a non-pregnant lady if she’s pregnant. Just better left unsaid.

Up, up and away some more. But once we all got to the top, we couldn’t go up anymore. That’s the thing about summits eh. So we clicked in and shredded ice, wind buff, sastrugi, corn, slush and suncups for 8000 (ish) glorious feet.

And just like that, the 2015 ski season came to an end. Again. We jumped into the car, drove straight back to BC, and got back to our summer weekday lives like it never happened. But it’s on Instagram now, so it happened.

Happy summer y’all.

OK maybe we had a bit of a clue where we were going. Loc dawg Mark had our backs, as long as we kept up. Photo by Andre Charland.

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Morning delight. Photo by Andre Charland.

Good morning to you too, Mr Crevasse. Skier Jamie Bond looking like a true Mt Rainier regular customer. Photo by Simon Thompson.

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Camp Shurman after dawn. Photo by Andre Charland.

Up, up and away. Photo by Andre Charland.

If you want a conversation starter for the mountaineers, carry your skis like Hoji. The maven of travel tricks, honing his craft. Photo by Simon Thompson.

Slick Rick going for a little tippy toe. The photo doesn’t show the other half of the hole just below him. Photo by Simon Thompson.

Bro, I think you left your lights on down there. We’d better get going. Photo by Simon Thompson

Mark Erickson flirting with the cracks. Photo by Jamie Bond.

Andre and Hoji trying out for the next volcano powder 8’s comp, but without the pow. Photo by Simon Thompson.

Slick Rick, and some ice. Photo by Simon Thompson.

Going for a wander up to Steamboat Prow for some bonus turns down the Inter Glacier. Photo by Simon Thompson.

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