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

Seattle is the sum of the city and its surroundings

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Sunset from Mt Rainier

Seattle is a growing city with a lot to offer with all its wilderness parks, great restaurants and bars and nightlife. However, just 25 miles in any direction, you experience things I always thought you would need a vacation to access. My wife and I have internalized the Seattle lifestyle and incorporated a lot of backcountry and outdoors into our life. We don’t take the car to work. But we do take the car to get out there where people don’t usually go and enjoy nature on a weekly basis. Here’s what Seattle looks like as experienced via half-day and full-day ventures into it’s surroundings:

You can build a snow-cave on an active volcano, two hours from the city.

You can build a snow-cave on an active volcano, two hours from the city.

You can see gorgeous sunsets any time of the year

You can see gorgeous sunsets any time of the year

You can climb a 12,500ft mountain in one day!

You can climb a 12,500ft mountain in one day!

You can go snowboarding after work

You can go snowboarding after work

Walk alongside glaciers

Walk alongside glaciers

Or plunge into a crevasse on the awesome glaciers

Or plunge into a crevasse on the awesome glaciers

Of course, you get the beautiful city views all the time

Of course, you get the beautiful city views all the time

When you start counting the stuff within a 0.5-4 hour radius of the city, coupled with the clean crisp air and beautiful city itself, the bar is set pretty high when you decide to go someplace on a vacation!

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

Climbing Mt. Adams in one day

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It can be done in one day but it’s more comfortable to do it in two. But if you plan on two days then you end up carrying more weight which slows you down and justifies doing it in two days. So it’s a cyclical argument.

Mt Adams Summit

We decided to summit Mt Adams in one day. Conservative estimate was 14hrs round trip to do the 6,800 ft up and down but we ended up taking 17hrs to get back to the trailhead. Really started to drag above 10,000 ft but I successfully managed to keep my Acute Mountain Sickness at bay with the right breathing techniques and rest. Good thing we had excellent weather on our side so we renegotiated our turn around time and pushed through to the summit. However, due to the delay the glissade chutes had re-frozen with hard rough ice. While sliding down the 30° slopes at 9 mph the skin on my lower back got exposed to all the friction and I got some minor burns. But descending 3000 ft in 60 mins by sliding down a mountain is a fun experience and was the delayed gratification that kept us going up in the first place! The only thing we could’ve done better is plan for more sleep before getting started 🙂

Heap of snow creates a higher summit Summit on the way up - looks deceptively close Lots of layer changes during the day At the summit

By planning on doing it in one day, we carried less stuff than we usually would for an overnight climb. Which helps us move fast, which in effect also makes you safer and you need less mitigation. Look at what speed can mean:

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

A night in a Brooklyn warehouse via Airbnb

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Airbnb opens up so many unique options to find a place to live in a new place that it’s really hard to ever consider staying in a hotel again. Case in point this awesome warehouse loft that I spent the night in when I was in NY last week. I was in Boston for work and decided I really wanted to get my NY fix – even if for a day. On my way over in the bus, I checked Hotel Tonight and found some nice hotels in Manhattan ranging from $225 – $400. Then I checked Priceline and Kayak and saw similar options. I could’ve bid and maybe got something for around $150. But none of the options sounded appealing. So I looked up Airbnb. I also decided I wanted to spend my night in Brooklyn because that would force me to go there – otherwise I never end up making my way over. I reviewed some listings but the one that I found intriguing was this warehouse loft.