Mount Rainier: Our Iconic Mountain

Photographer James Martin gives a sneak peak at his images from his classic book, Mount Rainier: Notes and Images from our Iconic Mountain
By James Martin - April 11th, 2013

Editor's Note: 

The Mountaineers Books Mountaineers Books is reprinting Mount Rainier: Notes and Images from Our Iconic Mountain, James Martin's stunning work of images and words that describes his extensive experience in Washington's Cascades and specifically on Mount Rainier. presents this sneak peak at the images that made the book a classic.

From Puget Sound Mount Rainier dominates the southern skyline, rising from sea level to 14, 411 feet. That’s half a vertical mile more elevation gain than one climbs from base camp to the summit of Everest. When I first climbed Rainier, I felt a giddy sense of isolation as the route left the surrounding summits under the clouds far below. Over the years I made my way up several routes, threading crevasses, sweating across snow slopes, and dodging flying rocks, but familiarity didn’t dampen the sense of ascending above the usual terrain, both physical and psychological.

At first I didn’t appreciate the sheer variety of terrain present on the flanks of the mountain. I had been addicted to the northernmost Cascades, but the variety and relative ease I found while traveling around Rainier prompted me to focus on documenting my trips with a medium format camera. In time, the collection found its way into Mount Rainier.
The park protects stands of immense cedars and green jungles of temperate rain forest. Verdant meadows sit astride ridges between the forest and the realm of ice and rock. Rivers and falls tumble down the flanks. I loved spending the night high on neighboring ridges and peaks, camping in the Tatoosh Range or along the Cascade Crest. A little distance endows the view with a sense of scale.
Whether following the 100+ mile Wonderland Trail encircling the peak, walking around the glaciers, or wandering in the lowland forests, I came to see Mount Rainier as a microcosm of everything I valued in the mountains, the complete menu of possible experiences concentrated in a relatively small national park just hours from the big city.


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