Rainier Speed Record Broken Three Times

Posted on: October 3, 2008


Mt. Rainier (14,411'), Cascades, Washington. Willie Benegas made a round-trip speed ascent of the peak on September 17, 2008 in under five hours—4:40:59—the fastest unofficial record to date. The Rainier speed record had been broken two times prior this summer. [Photo] www.wikipedia.org

This season the car-to-car speed record for climbing Mt. Rainier (14,411'), the famous peak southeast of Seattle, Washington, was broken three times. The first new record was set this summer on July 6 by Justin Merle with a time of 4:49:35. Merle was bested by Liam O'Sullivan on August 5 with a time of 4:46:20, then by renowned guide Willie Benegas, who clocked in at 4:40:59 on September 17. The round-trip climb from Paradise parking lot usually takes a fit climber two days.

Benegas timed himself, leaving the parking lot at 5 a.m. and reaching the summit by 8:20 that morning. It took him about 80 minutes to descend.

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Benegas has summited Everest eight times and held the speed record on Aconcagua. The News Tribune reported him saying, "I didn't even know about the record when I went up [to Rainier]... It seems like everybody else is more excited about it than I am... I think somebody could reach the summit in three hours, easy. I think somebody can do [the round-trip climb] in four hours." He added that he may try to break the record again next season.

Willie Benegas and his brother, Damian, were interviewed by Doug Scott in an Alpinist 5 feature ("Nuptse!") for their alpine-style climb, The Crystal Snake (5.9 M4 WI5, ca. 1500m), on the north face of Nuptse (7861m) in 2003.

Sources: www.thenewstribune.com, Hans Florine



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