BEMIDJI - Four adventurers from Bemidji left Thursday evening to fulfill Jeremy Fayette's bucket list wish to climb Mount Rainier.
Joining him were Robert Saxton, Mark Morrissey and Luke Robert. Along the way, they will pick up Matt Coyle.
The group has been planning and getting in physical shape since October. The men have dragged tires through Hobson Forest, climbed up and down Buena Vista Ski area hills with full packs, learned rope skills at the Bemidji State University climbing wall and practiced winter camping skills including cooking, taking gear on and off in the night and even rescue training in the snow.
The dream began when Fayette, vacationing with his family in Ashford, Wash., last summer, ran into some climbers and heard their stories. That planted the seed.
His wife, Stacey, helped line things up, including asking specific friends who could take part in the adventure.
Fayette said they contacted Morrissey, a veteran climber, about how to find a guide, and he agreed not only to train them but also to lead them up the 14,400-foot ascent.
The majority of climbing gear, packs and winter camping gear were borrowed.
"We all cross-country ski, so our ski clothes crosses over, so we really didn't have to purchase high-tech clothing," Saxton said.
Their packs weigh about 50-60 pounds each, but the majority of the weight will be shed once they hit base camp at Camp Muir, at about 9,990 feet.
They have permits for four nights.
"We really only need a permit for two nights, three days, but if we run into bad weather conditions we have extra time," Fayette said. "We start at 1 a.m. with only the cone vision from our head lamps. That should get our blood flowing.
This week, Mount Rainier received a fresh two to four inches of snow. Once the friends are at base camp, the temps should range from 10 to 30 degrees if there are no storms.
The climbers' secret food is hard-cooked eggs, using fresh farm eggs, they said, noting that the eggs are quick and easy to eat. Saxton purchased chocolate Paul Bunyans to give to the climbing rangers they'll encounter.
The big plus, they joked, is no mosquitoes.