Spud visits one of the 10000 or so coffee shops in the Seattle areaThe Quest for the Summit of Mount Rainier

Spud's New Year's resolution on January 1st 2000 was to try to summit the amazing peak of Mount Rainier in Washington State. He was no newcomer to the sport of mountaineering, as he had previously stood atop the lofty peaks of Ben Nevis in Scotland and Mount Athabasca in the Columbia Icefield of Alberta, Canada.  But Mount Rainier would be his tallest foe, standing a mighty 4392 metres (14411 feet) tall, or roughly 14410 1/2 feet taller than himself.  He began a rigorous training program that included nightly gorging on carbohydrate-induced tortilla chips and salsa, and drinking vast amounts of Rainier beer.  He also followed the style and technique of 'master' climber Sylvester Stallone by watching Cliffhanger a record 214 times.

Spud prepares for the big climb to the 14392 metre (14411 foot) summit of Mt RainierFully outfitted and mentally prepared, Spud arrived in Washington state on June 24th to begin his final stage of preparation. He needed to replace the beer in his system with the Nectar of the Northwest: ESPRESSO.   A strict diet of the caffeine blast coupled with carrot cake power bars would be the menu for the next week prior to the ascent.

The morning of June 29th, Spud arrived at the foot of the mountain where he was met by noted climber Alex Van Steen, who was a guide for Rainier Mountaineering Incorporated. Both he and Spud would be leading a team of other climbers to the top.  After a quick gear check and analysis of the route, the group was off.

12500 foot Mt. Adams watches Spud lead his team up the Muir snowfield to Camp MuirToday's route would follow a snow covered trail along the Paradise Glacier to the 4 km Muir Snowfield. The trek was arduous and truly tested Spud's physical conditioning and training regimen. To avoid becoming fatigued, Spud guzzled his thermos of espresso and continued to devour the nutrient bars.  For good measure, he even popped a piece of Gatorade chewing gum into his mouth.

During the 5 1/2 hour climb to base camp, the clouds cleared to reveal the beauty of Washington state.  As the group climbed higher and higher, they were presented with breathtaking views of Mount Adams and Mount Hood in the distance. More importantly, the green and white lights of the nearest Starbucks coffee house were even visible to the trained eye.  Spud's head spun with the thought of the electrifying jolt of the hi-test espresso - it was time for a break.

Finally, just before 4:00 PM, the group arrived at Camp Muir; the base camp at 10,080 feet. After an exhausting climb and the intake of 6 litres of espresso, Spud's first trip was to the privy. The team's rest would be short lived though as the assault on the summit would begin at 1:00 AM. 

Spud readies his gear at base campAfter assembling his harness, rope, carabiners, crampons and the rest of his technical gear, he forced a few more power bars and another litre of espresso down his gullet, before retiring to the bunkhouse to try to get some sleep.

Unfortunately, no sleep would come. With his massive intake of energy bars and high octane coffee during the day, his digestive system was in overdrive and he found himself scurrying off to the toilet every few minutes. Even so, with all the caffeine in his system, there was no way he would be able to rest. Unable to close his eyes (with all the caffeine wiring his system) he pulled them out in a last dire attempt to fall asleep - but it was to no avail.  All Spud could think about was reaching the summit.

Read on for Spud's assault on the summit!

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