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Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby pvnisher » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:30 pm

If YOU are inexperienced but your friend is experienced, ask him how he would feel if HE fell into a crevasse and YOU had to get him out. Or, what if HE falls? Do you feel comfortable in that you can arrest both of you falling? If not, get a guide or another experienced 3rd party. There's more to mountaineering than following a trench.

2 fairly experienced (but not guides) partners can take care of a newer third. But for 1-on-1, I'd want to be VERY experienced, and familiar with the route, before I'd tie on to an inexperienced person by myself.

And don't go up there expecting some other group to bail you out if you get into trouble.
Even "following the trench" or "following the guies" can get you into trouble. My second time was ascending to Muir in a blizzard, we had to stop at each wand and wait for it to clear a bit until we could see the next wand. By the time we were coming down many of the wands had been buried, and there was no trench or footsteps.

Rainier is an aweomse mountain, my US-favorite. But it is an entirely different game than CO 14ers.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby griddles » Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:55 pm

I went up Rainer this summer with Alpine Ascents. I summited on July 5, the day before SurNTurf and Csmcgranahan did. I had a great time. My Dad set the whole thing up, but wasn’t able to make it to the top.

My 2 cents (if you are decide to go with a guide):
Decide now. Or very soon. The spots fill up very, very quickly.
My vote is (obviously) AAI. Two reasons; a much smaller group and (this follows) more 'catering' to people’s abilities. There were only 8 climbers and 4 guides. The RMI groups I saw looked like they had about 25 people total, not sure of their ratio. There were 2 people who didn't leave camp on the Ingraham glacier. Then the other 5 people were forced to turn around at about 12400. I was given the option to continue. The RMI whole group that went before us was turned around. I am not sure they had the opportunity to whittle down who could make or not, so just turned everyone around.

However you go, it will be a great time.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby Gabriel » Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:24 pm

Both routes are beautiful glacier routes that require no climbing. Both are also crowded in the summer. Climb the one that inspires you.

Do learn to be self sufficient in the mountains so you don't need a guide. The experience will be a treasure for life.

G

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby pvnisher » Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:46 pm

Gabriel wrote:Do learn to be self sufficient in the mountains so you don't need a guide. The experience will be a treasure for life.


I agree with Gabriel, but want to add that going with a guide is one of the ways to learn to be self-sufficient so that you can go again without one. View the guide as both a safety net and an instructor. My first trip to Rainier I went guided. It was my first time on a glacier, and my friends were similarly inexperienced. I'm glad I did. I learned some skills, and that has carried me further.
I've also hired a guide for rock climbing. I couldn't lead the grade, but I wanted to do a particular route. I learned a lot by going with a pro rather than some dirtbag buddies with bad habits.

People look down on guides, or rather, people who hire guides. I think that is mistaken since you aren't look down upon for taking a class...
If you hire a guide and let them do everything and you just do the minimum to get up, that's your own fault. But if you hire a guide, take mental (or written) notes, observe what's going on, ask why... it's like taking a hands-on class.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby csmcgranahan » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:56 pm

griddles wrote:I went up Rainer this summer with Alpine Ascents. I summited on July 5, the day before SurNTurf and Csmcgranahan did. I had a great time. My Dad set the whole thing up, but wasn’t able to make it to the top.

My 2 cents (if you are decide to go with a guide):
Decide now. Or very soon. The spots fill up very, very quickly.
My vote is (obviously) AAI. Two reasons; a much smaller group and (this follows) more 'catering' to people’s abilities. There were only 8 climbers and 4 guides. The RMI groups I saw looked like they had about 25 people total, not sure of their ratio. There were 2 people who didn't leave camp on the Ingraham glacier. Then the other 5 people were forced to turn around at about 12400. I was given the option to continue. The RMI whole group that went before us was turned around. I am not sure they had the opportunity to whittle down who could make or not, so just turned everyone around.

However you go, it will be a great time.


Griddles, I actually summited on the 5th as well from Emmons Glacier. I think we topped out around 8:00am. The folks attempting from Emmons were 8/8 that day - fabulous weather.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby nyker » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:45 pm

Mount Rainier is a wonderful (and huge) mountain with many personalities and I'd highly recommend climbing it and also spending some time in the National Park, its a beautiful place.

On a nice day after a period of snowfree weather, Rainier can be deceptively easy. On a bad weather day,
it could be simply miserable up there with no clear direction where to go and visibility so low that you can't see anyone in front of you to follow
and any new snow will cover the track pretty quickly. Lot more moisture in the Pacific NW then elsewhere in the lower 48.

I had planned to climb Rainier for a long time, though I wasn't able to get anyone nearby in NY who even had a remote interest in climbing Rainier so I went alone.
After contemplating it, I opted to join a guided group with RMI fairly last minute and it worked out great.

If you are lucky enough to know people who either have climbed the mountain before and/or have solid glacier experience, you
probably don't need a formal guide if they are willing to go with you and be on a rope with you.
If you have no glacier experience or have little snow climbing experience OR have no friends who have climbed it
or who lack such experience themselves, I'd suggest joining a guided group.

I've done a lot of solo snow climbs and have taken mountaineering, rope travel and snow travel classes in the past and looking back,
in the fairly good weather in good visibility we had, I could have climbed Rainier that day without trouble, but felt climbing alone on unfamiliar glaciated terrain was not smart.

So, for me, the choice was to climb it alone or go guided. Pretty simple choice. Could I have climbed out of a crevasse?
Perhaps, yes, or no...I also could have broken my neck falling into one. Would I have known ahead of time that the route was moved
300ft higher the day before due a crevasse opening? Or which serac above was seen as weakening and give a wide berth? Probably not.
I don't have to be a hero and my family would like to see me again.
Call me conservative, I can live with that.

Route

If you have some decent snow experience on higher altitude, glaciated terrain, particularly in the wet Cascades, and are in good shape, the Emmons Route probably won't
be that tough for you. If you don't, you might want to stick with the Disappointment Cleaver/Ingraham Direct Routes to maximize the probability of a
successful summit attempt, then attempt the Emmons route on a subsequent trip.

Rainier sees a lot of guide activity, either from guided groups or Guides going up themselves to create and pick a route after conditions have changed.

The DC does get traffic, but ask anyone who has been there in new snow, where other parties or Guides haven't had a chance to pack it down and there won't be too much guidance on
route and no boottrack to follow, especially after a few bad weather days prevent anyone from going up high or when crevasse conditions change.
Before my climb I hiked up to Camp Muir to acclimatize - there were a couple of private groups that didn't make it up as they were unsure of the safe route
around the crevasses and turned back in blue bird skies a few days before our climb up. Bad avy conditions also turned around two large guided groups.

Timing

Early Season (late Spring/early summer) will see more snow, greater snowpack over crevasses, but more volatile weather and possibly increased avy risk,
but not necessarily.

Later in the season will see thinner snowbridges over crevasses, maybe higher chance of rockfall, but also a higher chance for nicer more stable weather and
warmer temps; ladders might be used later season where wider crevasses open.

After late September/October winter type conditions return and weather patterns generally are not too favorable until Spring.


Before our climb, I was there for a week or so and it rained/snowed the whole time and didn't even see the mountain, I thought they moved the parking lot.
...then it suddenly cleared and we had a three day window before the next front moved in.

Of the four people that got lost on the Muir snowfield earlier this year - they just found three of them last month:
http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/08/09/2248350/body-found-on-rainier-is-missing.html

Camp Muir is the cut off where the Muir Snowfield breaks and the "upper mountain" climbing begins where most rope up.

For RMI, above Camp Muir, our rope team was 3 climbers to 1 guide, below Muir, everyone hiked together casually. You carry basically everything you'd normally carry on an overnighter except rope and snow pickets. Some might have an option to stay in one of the huts if there is space using your own sleeping bag, if not, you bring your own tent. Five people were turned around before 13,500ft on this day from our group for various reasons and two never went higher than Muir. In such a case ratio could be 2:1 or teams reshuffled.

Whatever you choose, good luck!!
Last edited by nyker on Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby Palmyra J » Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:45 pm

pvnisher wrote:If YOU are inexperienced but your friend is experienced, ask him how he would feel if HE fell into a crevasse and YOU had to get him out. Or, what if HE falls? Do you feel comfortable in that you can arrest both of you falling? If not, get a guide or another experienced 3rd party. There's more to mountaineering than following a trench.

2 fairly experienced (but not guides) partners can take care of a newer third. But for 1-on-1, I'd want to be VERY experienced, and familiar with the route, before I'd tie on to an inexperienced person by myself.

And don't go up there expecting some other group to bail you out if you get into trouble.
Even "following the trench" or "following the guies" can get you into trouble. My second time was ascending to Muir in a blizzard, we had to stop at each wand and wait for it to clear a bit until we could see the next wand. By the time we were coming down many of the wands had been buried, and there was no trench or footsteps.

Rainier is an aweomse mountain, my US-favorite. But it is an entirely different game than CO 14ers.


No worries...I am taking in the entire thread. I appreciate Nyker's comments below as well. I have read his most recent detailed trip report. Conservative is good in this hobby of ours. I have managed to avoid truly dangerous situations after one early mishap on a simple, straight forward 14'er in CO two years ago. That one experience taught me to be very honest with my level of skill as I put my partner and I at risk.

More later!

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby ascent+descent=fun » Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:32 pm

I guided for RMI on rainier for 3 years. I have climbed both routes many, many times, and personally prefer the DC more. The emmons route is longer, but tends to have far less people. I can tell you that your chances of success on the DC are better than your chances of success on the emmons. If you are unsure if you can climb the mountain safely, just hire a guide. How much is your life worth? probably more than a thousand dollars. The thing about rainier is that one day is can be a walk in the park (if your fit), and the next it can be a harrowing life threatening experience. Having a guide to make decisions about continuing (or not) is a good way to go. Most people try to pick the more "aesthetic" route to avoid crowds and pesky guide services, but most of them end up getting so worked they dont have any energy to enjoy it. and plus, if you get into trouble, the guides will be the ones rescuing you anyway.

As far as which guide service to pick, they are all good and they all sell out fast.

PE

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby mambwe » Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:38 pm

I summited Rainier via the DC route this August using IMG. I'm from NYC so hiring a guide was a no brainier for me being that I don't have exposure to peaks over 6,300 ft. I had never stepped foot on a glacier until this trip and I felt completely comfortable with the guides. IMG was completely top notch in every aspect of the climb. Spending an extra night on the Ingraham Flats was awesome. I'll never forget the view of little Tahoma as I blue bagged it on the flats. Totally awesome experience.

Everyone warned us about the crowds on the DC route. We summited on Friday August 17th and we only saw a huge RMI on the trail. Also, one solo guy. We had the summit to ourselves for a good 20 minutes.

The weather was gourgeous and super hot. They were forecasting freezing temps at 15,000+ feet when we were there. The snow was super soft.

Ultimately we chose IMG because of the extra night on the mountain. AAI does this also but we didn't like that AAI was in Seattle. IMG is in Ashford right outside the park. We heard that RMI basically gets you up and down and that's all they care about. You're basically a heard of cattle with RMI.

IMG was great!!!

Climbing Rainier is something I'll never forget!

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby 14erAddict » Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:33 am

When are you thinking of going? I was also planning on doing Rainier this July, although I haven't booked anything yet! It'd be good to get a group together to go..if you'd be interested!! :)
"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks" - John Muir

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby mamaduff » Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:46 pm

Just a heads up - I signed up to climb Mt. Rainier via the "standard" route w/AAI about three weeks ago and got one of the last spots available for July 2013. I chose AAI for two reasons: someone I hike with used them last year and had a great experience and I actually prefer the Seattle location so I don't have to rent a car (I am coming from NJ).

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby 14erAddict » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:28 am

Hmm I plan on going through RMI, and they still have plenty of openings. I plan on doing the 4-day..since I'm from Colorado, I don't feel like I need an extra day to acclimate :)
"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks" - John Muir

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