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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 jfox » Tue Sep 05, 2006 9:43 pm

I'm curious. Why is Rainier so difficult? It's only a 14er, not an 8,000m peak.

I understand the dangers of glaciers etc. but why does one need to 'bust their ass' training so hard for this mountain? What is the elevation gain from the TH to the summit?

I'm a bit confused, since I'd love to climb it someday.

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Postby gdthomas » Tue Sep 05, 2006 9:53 pm

9,000 vertical (more than any mountain in Colorado over that distance), snow and ice travel (requires more effort), avoiding crevasses (requires more effort), wind and weather can be relentless (requires more effort), etc., etc.

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Postby Flatland Biker » Tue Sep 05, 2006 10:16 pm

Interesting. Very Interesting!

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Postby Marty369 » Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:02 am

I can vouch for everything Bearhamr wrote. Good experience, but maybe a slower pace would have been nicer. Its doable as is obviously but I felt like there was no time to take in the scenery or photographs on the hike/climb. Maybe it was just our groups or guides but it was fast paced to say the least.

Next year they are supposedly opening the DC route to 2 other guide services. Might make things interesting.

And the smell of the latrine still haunts me and lives embedded in my softshell lolololol..........

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Postby jfox » Wed Sep 06, 2006 8:25 am

Is it permissible to climb it un-guided?

As long as one knows the route through prior research, trains hard for the attempt and has all the gear? I think that's how I'd like to do it if I ever do. Maybe some of us should plan a trip for next year or something! Who's in?

Postby Chicago Transplant » Wed Sep 06, 2006 8:58 am

Is it permissible to climb it un-guided?


Absolutely! Our group of 3 was just that, one of us had been there twice but never had been above Camp Muir. They require a special permit for you to solo, but as long as you have a team of 2 or more you allowed to climb (with proper permits of course).

The reason the peak is considered so difficult is just as gdthomas said. The elevation gain is much more difficult for people starting at sea level than us Coloradoans. Camp Muir is about the same elevation as Leadville, but of course the glacier travel and crevasse navigation is something we do not have here. Train by climbing couloir routes here and it will help a lot, and of course practice setting up your rescue gear, St Mary's works well for that.

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Postby Scott P » Wed Sep 06, 2006 9:16 am

In the Alpine grading system, Mount Rainier is rated PD for the Dissapointment Cleaver or Emmons Glacier Routes. PD translates to "not very hard". The definition is below (see link):

http://www.summitpost.org/fact-sheet/17 ... facts.html

The level of good introductory climbs for novices. There may be a few pitches of mid-5th class climbing (or say, Grade III in UIAA). If it's a snow climb, there will be minor crevasse problems to deal with, or limited sections of very steep terrain.

Keep in mind though, a novice alpine climb is not the same as a novice hike. You still need to be proficient with an ice axe and glacier travel. The easiest climbing grade is rated F, whic translates to "easy". Most of the CO 14ers are too easy to receive a F grading (unless someone is wigged out), or in other words, too easy to be rated easy :? . Confused? Peaks like Capitol or North Maroon would be hard enough to recieve an F or "easy" rating.

Where it gets confusing is that much of the time alpine gradings are used, glacier travel is often involved (but not always, peaks such as Ojos del Salado is rated PD because of the summit pinnacle).

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Postby Skip Perkins » Sat Sep 09, 2006 6:25 pm

I climbed Ranier a few years ago as part of a Jansport dealer group. Our guides included Peter Whittaker, Lou Whittaker, Gombu, and more because of the Jansport connection. We were snowed in at Camp Muir for three days in late June but it was a godsend because all of these climbers sat around the bunk house and shared stories of K2, Everest, etc. On the last day the weather cleared and we summitted. The guides voted me least likely to summit because of my lack of training but my trips to the 14ers were very valuable. My training creed has often included, "Why hurt more than once?" Conditioning will always make the trip more enjoyable but I never doubted that I would make it to the summit.
I also would never consider climbing this mountain without a guide. The crevasses, snowbridges, etc make this entirely different and more dangerous than any 14er. Peter Whittaker was guiding a group of 10 when a huge chunk of ice wiped out the entire group by sweeping them into a crevasse. None were recovered. There is a good reason RMI wants to get through certain sections without allowing any kodak moments. It was a great climb and I encourage anyone to go for it. BUT, I'd use a guide.

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