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Rising to the peak: Bemidji men conquer Rainier

From left, Robert Saxton, Mark Morrissey, Jeremy Fayette and Luke Rutten stand June 19 at Columbia Crest, the top of Mount Rainier, to complete a bucket list wish. Submitted Photo1 / 2
The sunrise at Disappointment Cleaver at an elevation of 13,500 - at about 4 a.m. June 19 - was a welcome sight for four Bemidji climbers on their way to reaching the summit of Mount Rainier. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI - A bucket list adventure can now be crossed off the list for four Bemidji men.

"To be a mountain climber you have to have high tolerance of pain and a short memory," said Robert Saxton, who along with Jeremy Fayette, Luke Rutten and Mark Morrissey reached their goal last week of climbing Washington's Mount Rainier.

Saxton summed up the effort succinctly: tremendous, exhausting, affirming and ecstatic.

When the team reached Base Camp Muir, they chose to wait a day before attempting to summit the 14,410-foot peak due to the weather.

"It was a chance to dry our gear," said Morrissey. "While we waited we did a half day climb, scoped out the route. Somewhat a confident builder - plus it gave us an extra day to get climitized."

As planned, they departed at 1:30 a.m. last Tuesday, and seven hours later reached the summit, Columbia Crest, around 8:30 a.m. for a grand photo opt.

"For four rookies, we couldn't have been better prepared," Saxton said. "Our bodies, our legs were spent but we felt very secure. Being spent we had to raise the game coming down."

It took them four hours to climb back down to base camp, where they decided not to wait. They packed the remaining gear for another three-hour climb from base camp to Paradise.

"Needless to say, we were wet and legs were gone," Saxton said.

The chocolate Paul Bunyan candies were a hit with the park rangers, Saxton said.

"Climbers are typically a quit bunch, they knew we were from Minnesota," he said. "We were congratulating climbers and cheering others on. The dangers and hazards were there but we had our ducks in a row."