I want my Mountain back. Mt Rainier shut down

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Because of the government shut down all National Parks, including Mt. Rainier, are shut down. Due to websites being considered non-essential, they can’t even update the website to let people know what to expect. Turns out, the roads have been blocked, gates have been locked and it’s not possible to drive into the National Park anymore. Putting this out here because I couldn’t find this info anywhere else. So disappointing.

Mount Rainier Shut Down

Mount Rainier Shut Down

Milky Way over Mt. Rainier with climbers making summit attempt

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Growing up in Mumbai, I remember seeing stars above me. I remember vividly that I could see the 30 brightest stars in the Northen Hemisphere as I knew them by name and could find them at night. In the 90s, light pollution came and you couldn’t see anymore. Yet, nothing is more awestriking yet relatively easily accessible than a simple moonless, starlit night. At least for now, you can just get away from man-made settlements by maybe a couple of hour to experience that.

Last week I went with friends over the Sunrise Point in Mt. Rainier. The visibility forecast for it was very good and I was hoping to capture the Milky Way on my camera using a long exposure.

Here are the results. All the light in this picture is coming from the Milky Way and other starlight. There was no moon, and no other man made light leaking through. The dots on the mountain itself are climbers making a summit attempt.


Milky Way over Mt Rainier by Sameer Halai on 500px.com

Time Lapse of Mt. Rainier visibility from Kerry Park in 2012

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Mt Rainier from Kerry Park

Visibility of our surroundings is a key aspect of the experience of a place. I live in Seattle and one thing everyone here is obsessed with is Mt. Rainier. It’s common to hear the phrase “The mountain’s out”. How many times in a year can you see Mt. Rainier from Seattle? Some people claim that it’s a “few days a year”. This time-lapse shows that in 2012 you could see Mt. Rainier a total of minimum 83 times. That translates to once every 4-5 days.

Since I am only looking at pictures taken at exactly 3pm every day, the actual number of times you can see the mountain at least once is definitely higher if you consider other times of the day you get a peek at it.

Pictures taken by the awesome folks at Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. I recently found out about them but am in no way affiliated to them. Watch their visibility camera here: http://www.pscleanair.org/airq/visibility/default.aspx

I wrote this simple perl script to grab the images from the website and then actually used iMovie to put them together and manually added the counter.

A night in a Snow Cave on Mt. Rainier on New Year's day

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Welcoming 2013 from our snow cave on Mt. Rainier

Jen and I don’t really attach much significance to days like New Years day. However, why pass on a nice extended weekend to get out and have some fun? We decided to go snow camping on Mt. Rainier. We had been to Mt. Rainier many times before but had never camped overnight, and never really built a snow cave. Got a lot of help from my good friend Brad, who helped me figure out what supplies I would need and how to use them. Also did a lot of research online on tips on building snow caves. Mt. Rainier is one of the snowiest places on earth and the hike to Camp Muir is one of the 10 most deadliest ones in the US. So I also went through all the incidents of fatalities and emergencies on Mt. Rainier over the last 30 years. Almost all involved bad luck and many were made worse because the victims and survivors hadn’t been planning on staying there long but were forced to due to bad weather. Since we had enough supplies

Hiking to Camp Muir at Mt. Rainier using 5 finger shoes

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We hiked up to Camp Muir yesterday which is at an elevation of 10,080ft. Starting at Paradise it’s a 4,700 ft climb that happens over 5.5 miles. The last 2-3 miles is just a vast snow-field and traversing up that is a chore. Good boots help but we use 5 finger shoes which don’t do too well on the snow.

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Solution: we used micro-spikes and attached them to the 5 finger shoes and they work really well! Except, the 5 finger shoes don’t have much insulation or water protection and the toes start getting cold 🙁 Make sure you wear socks and have more at hand in case they get wet.

Camp Muir Hike Path