What should I expect attempting to summit Mt. Rainier?

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Postby theomont » Tue May 30, 2006 7:48 pm

Sounds well planned. Good luck on your bid.

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Postby Chicago Transplant » Wed Jun 28, 2006 3:36 pm

We are getting all of our reservations in order for a self-guided 3 person trip. Just so you all know, Paradise is under renovation right now. There are some changes to the parking situation as they build the new visitor center. More information can be had here:


I can post how it worked for us when I get back, trip is scheduled for a July 16th summit day, wish us luck!

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Postby BearHamr » Wed Jun 28, 2006 5:21 pm

Sweet. Hope you have a great trip. I talked with a guy who made it last week, said they ran into some pretty strong winds around the Cleaver. Stay safe and alert.
The only thing necessary for the truimph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke

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muir seminar on rainier

Postby kiddrockies » Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:29 pm

I just returned from a 5 day 4 night Muir Seminar that RMI puts on. I HIGHLY recommend it unless you're just really tough. I was SO grateful to not get up and climb the same night after the LOOOONG grunt up to Muir. 9000' in a 24 hour period on snowy glaciers??? oy!!! I was feeling quite a bit worse after getting to Muir than I did on summit day - and yup I made it feeling pretty good, praise God.
The Seminar was so worth the extra money and time - got to know the team better, did actual crevasse rescue, fixed rope training, avalanche locate and rescue, and just enjoyed the fairly casual two days acclimatizing at camp. Also, we only descended to Muir on summit day, which was a blessing fo sho. And they fed us good stuff.
The three day climb people that make it... mad props to you. You're animals!
Plus, we had more than a one-day window to go for the summit, which can make all the difference in the world. My first two attempts, both in 2000, were total team turn-arounds - the first due to an icefall (two helicopter rescues) and the second due to an isolated but brutal storm.
I loved my 5 days on that amazing mountain!
The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hind's feet, and He will make me to walk upon the high places.
Habakkuk 3:19

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.
Matthew 14:23

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Postby Chicago Transplant » Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:44 pm

Just got back from our summit bid! In general everything went very well but we were unable to summit, I turned around at the top of Disappointment Cleaver (12,500') to return to camp with my partner who was having back spasms. We will be back soon though! Here is a summary of some "lessons learned"

Training: Climb, climb, climb!!! We have done about 15 high peaks (12,500 and up) this spring including some with other 5000' of gain and several snow (couloir) climbs. Also did a lot of pack training hikes after work to strengthen our legs, would hike with 50+ pounds distances of 3-4 miles at elevations similar to the approach to Muir (between 5500' and 10000'). On the mountain we felt great, no affects from the altitude and we were able to cruise up from Paradise to Camp Muir in about 5 hours, despite having 45 pound packs.

Glacier Skills: We went over glacier travel/crevasse rescue training as a team a couple of times, setting up pickets and pulleys at St Mary's Glacier and "rescuing" our packs from over the cornice. We made some mistakes, but worked them out and refined our system to where it worked. We built up the confidence that we could set up rescue and pull someone out if necessary. We practiced again at camp to make sure we had the system dialed in, we each carried 2 pickets, 2 pulleys, a tibloc, a belay device, 8-10 carabiners, and prussiks (both for self rescue and to use on a rescue). Of course we also had an ice axe and crampons each and wore helmets.

Planning/Cost: We got good deals on airfare ($258 RT from Denver to Sea-Tac on Frontier) and planned 2 days for summiting with a back up day for weather. Permits are $30 each, park entry fee was $15 and our camp the first night was $15. We registered day of climb and did not have to pay a reservation fee for the backcountry camping at Camp Muir. The car rental was a weekly rate (5 days) and cost $270 total after tax. We left Camp Muir on summit day at 12.30, and beat all of the RMI groups out of camp. We ran out of fuel, boiling water takes a lot of fuel! Luckily some fellow Coloradoans (and summitposters) that were our neighobrs let us use their stove.

Some observations: Sleeping on the glacier is really cold! If you can stand the extra weight bring a sleeping pad to help insulate you. Carry extra batteries, you will need your headlamp and don't want it to die out. Be prepared for a lot of weather variety, we started at Paradise in fog and mist, but summit day was clear, although cold and windy. It was sunny and warm on the descend of the Muir Snowfield. You will experience winter condtions, but also wet, muggy, sunny, warm etc. Carry appropriate clothing for everything! Also its windy at Muir, bring a shovel so you can build wind barriers, and also to "mine" for good snow to boil water from, you don't want to use the stuff on the surface (its dirty)

Hope this helps, we are going to try and head back again really soon!

Ingraham Flats:


View from descent back to Paradise:


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Postby BearHamr » Wed Jul 19, 2006 4:05 pm

Excellent info, thanks Transplant.
The only thing necessary for the truimph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke

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Postby zacob » Wed Jul 19, 2006 4:22 pm

Talus when are you going?

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Postby kruegera » Wed Jul 19, 2006 4:44 pm

It looks like there were more significant crevasses on the Ingrahm Glacier than last year.

I felt that getting to the top of the Cleaver was the hardest part of the climb. I will agree that above Camp Muir it gets cold and windy pretty fast.

Good luck on you next trip
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Postby Marty369 » Thu Jul 20, 2006 12:12 am

Exellent post. 1 week and 2 days til we get our shot!

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Postby Chicago Transplant » Thu Jul 20, 2006 8:22 am

Yeah, I agree that the cleaver is probably the crux. We didn't get above it, but after talking to others it is the steepest part of the climb. When it melts out it can be a loose scramble, but we were fortunate enough to have it all snow except for a little bit of dirt trail at the toe.

Good luck with your climbs!

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Postby missingcolorado » Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:33 am

Concur with the schedule detail Layne Bracie sp??? gave above. I climbed Rainier in 1998 with RMI. It was a great experience! I had never been on a mountain that really is "alive". There were little ice fingers that stick up on the top of the crater that are formed by the steamy air that escapes in places then freezes. Also the rock slides become more frequent as the day goes on and things warm up. RMI really knows what they are doing and if you are in shape you will have a super time. I also recommend crossing the crater at the top to go to the true summit .."Columbia Crest". Good Luck.
Native son trying to find his way back to "Gods Country"

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Postby BearHamr » Tue Sep 05, 2006 8:28 pm

Thought I should give my two-cents since I started this thread asking for advice several months ago.

Made the summit of Rainier Aug. 2, 2006 with Marty369. We did the three-day summit climb with RMI. Here is what I learned.

Be in great shape. I trained for this climb for 6 months and the last two weeks I spent an hour 4-5 times a week on a stairmaster with a 70 lb pack, this was in addition to running like FORREST and lifting like ARNOLD. I am in the best shape of my life. I truely believe that without being in such good shape that I would have turned back, at one point after making it to the top of the Dissapointment Clever, I was thinking about calling it quits, but I have yet to quit anything in my life...so I did not want to start there. I had zero glacier expericence and only class 2 Colorado 14er trips, so those who have more training and experience should be fine. Also with experience one could move at their own pace which was not the case for RMI.

RMI PACE....FAST....VERY FAST. Although they are very safety aware and professional the whole premise around the three day summit climb is....TIME IS MONEY...There is no time for R&R while on the trail, because there is another paying customer waiting for your bunk at Muir, your seat on the bus etc. Some of the enjoyment of your trip is based on the luck of the rope team leader you get. We had a guide who was not very friendly or talkative or encouraging while on the route. We got our encouragement from ourselves and from other rope team leaders who motivated their teams as we listened in.

There are four breaks once you leave Muir. A 15 minute break after crossing the Cowlitz Glacier/Cathedral Rock which takes approx. 1 hour 15 minutes. Another 15 minutes after crossing the Ingrahm Glacier and ascending the Dissappointment Clever which takes approx. 2 plus hours, another 15 minutes at High Break (around 13,400) and then at the summit. The thing is.....RMI's 15 minutes is not the same 15 minutes on all other watches. They have watches that run faster than standard time pieces, so that 15 minutes is actually about 7-8 minutes. Maybe my watch was just too cold or had not yet acclimated coming from 700 feet? Do not expect any personal treatment or the like, it is a cut throat business on a cut throat mountain. Do not expect more.

In late summer, after the snow, bring light hikers while carrying your plastics until you reach the Muir snow field. Your feet will thank you up to that point and on the way down. One of the guides on our trip made the hike with his Chacos until the snow field. I had asked this question of RMI prior to our arrival and was never told anything but to wear the boots. I wore my running shoes and glad I did.

Camp Muir: I guess the poop buckets had not been airlifted out in a while when we were there, so the smell of the "HOLE" was the worst thing I have ever smelled. Even the guides complained. Bring a small tube of VICKS to rub under the ole nose while you are there because the odor is not good and it sticks to everyones shoes, clothing etc.

Obviously do not skimp on quality equipment or food/water. One of the climbers in our group used a monitor and said he was burning 1,200-1,500 calories an hour.

Will I go again with RMI? YES. The next time (only if my sons want to go) I will hire a private climb so we can take it easy and make a slower ascent in more days. I will most likely never get the glacier training that I need to go at it alone, for two reasons I guess. Time and global warming.
The only thing necessary for the truimph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke


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