Two Yakima men reached the peak of their adventure on the 14,410-foot summit of Mount Rainier at 6 a.m. on Aug. 21.
A full moon was sitting just above the crater opposite from a brilliant red-ball sunrise.
“It was a gift,” said Doug Federspiel, a Yakima Superior Court judge.
Just 671/2 hours earlier, Federspiel and George Waymire had enjoyed a similarly sprawling view from the summit ridge atop Mount Hood, at 11,250 feet the tallest of Oregon’s Cascades.
The next morning found them on 12,280-foot Mount Adams – making the top by headlamp at 2:30 before descending and heading to Rainier.
Three Cascade volcanoe summits in three days.
Others have done it faster. “They were elite athletes,” Federspiel says, “and that was never our intention to challenge those records.”
Instead, the two very experienced recreational climbers — Federspiel, 50, a Yakima Superior Court judge, and Waymire, 36, acquisitions manager at Yakima-based Wilkinson Corporation — simply chose to challenge themselves.
They made their three-part uphill journey without a support team, driving themselves from one trailhead to the next, acquiring climbing permits at each stop and then carrying their bare necessities on their backs.
They qualify their feat with a sobering dose of maturity.
Rangers at Mount Hood had told them they should not consider crossing the narrow summit ridge because conditions were treacherous, but the climbers had already decided against it.
“We decided purposely not to take those last steps across that knife-edge and the unsecured rock because of the precipitous fall,” Federspiel said. “You’re looking at 1,000-plus feet to the north almost straight down, and not as far (down) to the south but it would kill you if you fell off either way.
“So we got feet from the top and simply said, OK, this is where we stop. This our summit. I have a wife and two young kids. No use risking death.”
They were short on sleep by the time they descended Rainier and they’d negotiated some precarious postions coming down Adams in the dark, crossing aluminum ladders spanning crevasses on Rainier before sunrise, then getting off the mountain safely without slipping or getting beaned by a rock dislodged by other climbers.
“Life isn’t easy. Neither is climbing,” Waymire says. “And that, for me, is what makes climbing a fun experience. It replicates life.”