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Wednesday, September 2, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Outdoors / Mountain Climbing -- To Mount Rainier Summit And Back - Before Lunch

Seattle Times Outdoors Reporter

Many a rookie climber on Mount Rainier has taken five hours just to figure out how to lace the crampons. Yesterday, a Seattle man made a round-trip summit climb from Paradise to the 14,411-foot summit and back in about the same amount of time.

Chad Kellogg, 26, a Seattle-area Mount Rainier National Park climbing ranger, clocked a record "car-to-car" climb from Paradise lodge to Rainier's summit and back in 5 hours, 6 minutes and 58 seconds.

Speed climbs of Rainier and other mountains can be difficult to verify and are not always documented by the National Park Service. But Kellogg's time appears to have beaten all other speed records, well documented or not.

The fastest previous climb might have been made by two Yakima men, who laid claim to a time of 5 hours, 9 minutes in July, 1985. Those climbers - Ken Evans of White Pass and Matt Christiansen of Yakima - made their summit dash equipped only with light gear such as ski poles and running shoes, according to an account by Rainier historian Bette Filley. But neither climber apparently took time to sign the summit register. Earlier, longtime Rainier Mountaineering Inc. guide Craig Van Hoy posted many well-documented ascents in less than 5 1/2 hours.

No matter which record you believe, Kellogg's climb appears to have established a benchmark, said George Beilstein, a Rainier climbing ranger stationed at the Paradise Ranger Station yesterday. Kellogg, climbing alone, left for the summit around 6 a.m., logged in at the summit an undetermined time later and returned to Paradise shortly after 11 a.m., Beilstein said.

It was Kellogg's second Rainier record in as many seasons. Kellogg, a climbing ranger at the park the past two seasons, had set a Rainier strength benchmark last year, climbing to the summit 33 times in a season. That record also fell this week, however. Climbing ranger Mike Gauthier stood on the summit for the 34th time in 1998 on Monday, Beilstein said.

Kellogg's climb yesterday, which followed the standard Disappointment Cleaver (Camp Muir) summit route, stands as a particularly impressive accomplishment because of its timing. The route - indeed, all climbing routes on the mountain - are badly deteriorated by late August, when large crevasses open in glaciers and travel shifts to often-treacherous rock ridges. And they're in worse-than-average shape for late summer this year.

"The route's pretty broken up," Beilstein said. "It had to be fairly long (in distance) compared to the early season, or other years when there aren't as many crevasses."

Kellogg could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"He said he was going to go take a nap," Beilstein said.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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