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Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

Postby herdbull » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:31 pm

I know it's kind of late to book this trip for this coming summer but I had to wait until my Mexico trip happened before I moved on this trip. After climbing Orizaba solo I now have my sights on South America but I absolutely need some education and experience with rope teams, basic team travel and maybe some rescue training. So I'm looking into something out in the NW.

I spent a few hours this morning getting rough pricing on airfare, program costs and other expenses. Just when I think I had things figured out I went through the details and found a couple things I have questions on. It appears that a person will need a car rental for both RMI and IMG. Does that sound about right? I am flying into Seattle. It appears one doesn't need a car if you book with AAI? For whatever reason I thought they were all within taxi or shuttle service of the airport.

It also appears that IMG offers tent camping ($20/night) on site. That's great, it will be good enough for me. Both RMI and AAI require hotels both the night before and after to make flying easier. The hotel that AAI suggests is $159/night plus taxes.

What have your trips costs been to do a similar fly in climb? This is starting to run a little higher than I wanted when you throw in another $300+ for hotels and the min. car rental I found was $200+. We all know how the car rental thing goes too. I've never had the final bill be what was quoted to me. I guess I didn't plan on this trip running $2500-$3000 with everything.

Just for farts n giggles I threw California Alpine Guides and a trip to Mt. Shasta in the mix. Pretty much the same deal, rental car, hotel and more $$$ airfare because of where it is. I am definitely open to suggestions here and what others have paid to do this. With the limited climbs that are available I really can't be picky with which service I choose to go with. If I wait another week or 2 I may not get to choose any of them :(

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Re: Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

Postby SurfNTurf » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:00 pm

I'm not sure where AAI is headquartered, but IMG and RMI are based in Ashford, right near the entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park. I'm not aware of any public transportation options to reach Ashford from SeaTac. It's 1.5-2 hours away. Almost everyone I know who's flown into Seattle and gone to Mt. Rainier has rented a car or gotten a ride from a friend/family member.

Have you looked into staying at the Whittaker Bunkhouse? It's a climber's hostel at the RMI compound in Ashford.

Another option would be to research a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Exum Guides offers a multi-day alpine mountaineering seminar, I believe in June. Jackson Hole Mountain Guides might have something similar?
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Re: Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

Postby herdbull » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:06 pm

Once again you are a plethora of knowledge and I thank you. I'm not partial the NW so I will try and contact Exum Mtn Guides tomorrow. That trip would work much better as I could tie it into a summer drive out to climb more 14ers. I kind of like that idea.

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Re: Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

Postby Fisching » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:21 pm

Based on what you said, it's likely you've come across this webpage, but in the off-chance you haven't I figured it'd worth sharing. The Mountain Madness course on Rainier is $1000 for 5 days.

http://www.mountainmadness.com/adventures/schools/north-america/denali-prep
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Re: Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

Postby Cool Hand Luke » Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:55 pm

If you need lodging in Seattle and don't mind hostels City Hostel Seattle is an affordable option. It's about 1/2 a mile away from the Mountain Madness pickup location. Definitely one of the best hostels I've stayed at.

http://www.hostelseattle.com/city_hostel_seattle

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Re: Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

Postby shearmodulus » Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:08 pm

AAI is about 15 miles from the airport. I'm going to Rainier at the end of the month for the Denali Prep Course and was planning on just taking a taxi from the airport to their Seattle office where we meet the shuttle that takes us to the park.
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Re: Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

Postby herdbull » Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:37 pm

Looks like that Denali course starts at the office in the early A.M. There is no possible way for me to attend anything at the office before noon without spending the night before in town. I have limited flights available to me that don't get in until 11:00 am at the earliest. I called today and The Marqueen Inn is right at $175/night including tax.

The other thing with these longer courses is you supply all your food on the mtn. Good lord, do you know how much I eat in a day, let alone six days :lol: So I might as well plan on 2 checked bags for the flight which is another $125 #-o

I called Exum today and talked with them for a while. If I can get the alpine/mountaineering training I need there it will be a good option for me. Sounded like they kind of do a mix of rock and mountaineering though. Not really looking for rock climbing help. A private 4 day course there would run about the same as the Denali Prep.

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Re: Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

Postby Scott P » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:13 pm

Just for farts n giggles I threw California Alpine Guides and a trip to Mt. Shasta in the mix. Pretty much the same deal, rental car, hotel and more $$$ airfare because of where it is.


Most guide services for Mt Shasta meet in the Mt Shasta City. There is public transport to the city of Mt Shasta, so you don't need to rent a car. It's not an official stop for Greyhound, but most drivers will drop you off there anyway. Even if they don't, Weed is an official stop and there are public buses from Weed to Mt Shasta City.

As for flying, Medford and Redding are approximately the same distance, but flying into Medford is sometimes slightly easier since they have direct flights from Denver and since Redding flights usually have a layover in San Francisco, which is notorious for weather delays in summer due to the fog.

As for Mt Rainier, there is no public transport to the mountain that allows climbers. There are bus tours, but they won't let you take a tour with all your gear just to get a ride to the mountain.

After climbing Orizaba solo I now have my sights on South America but I absolutely need some education and experience with rope teams, basic team travel and maybe some rescue training. So I'm looking into something out in the NW.


What about taking a course in South America itself? Usually, it would be cheaper than doing so in the US and there are reputable guide services that do mountaineering courses. Depending on the climb you want to do, you could roll the training and climb into one.
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Re: Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

Postby jrbren_vt » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:41 pm

Just curious why is it kind of late to sign up for a summer course in the NW ? Are we assuming Rainier is the only mountain up there ? I took my 6 day glacier class with Alpine Ascents back in 2003, did not need a car for it. Hotel shuttle from airport to/from hotel, AAI office was within walking distance, got ride from AAI van for the rest of trip. Class was on Mt Baker, it was not full. You can probably choose between several courses 3 weeks before the class starts, unless it has to be on Rainier, in which case you can still check the web sites or call the guide services periodically and look for cancellations. Shasta sounds like a good option too, I like to do that someday. But sounds more difficult to get to logistically then the Washington Cascades.
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Re: Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

Postby griddles » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:37 am

I went up Rainier with AAI last summer. It was super easy/nice not to rent a car. And by getting there a day in advance, staying at the
The Mediterranean Inn (which was cheaper than the Marqueen if I remember) which is about 2 blocks away was nice as well. We were able to go to the shop in advance and get more questions answered. Not driving was a plus because it was one less thing to worry about mentally.

Good luck.

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Re: Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

Postby herdbull » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:02 pm

Thanks griddles, that's kind of the way I'm leaning right now. Seems pretty easy, no hassle with the car and paying through the nose to only use it for 3 hours. I checked rates at the Med, it was within $10 so pretty much a wash. But thanks for info.

One thing I should point out is that I have a hard time paying $2800-$3000 for a trip in the states. I don't know, I just do. Yes, it would be a great learning experience that I will require but at the same time $3K is (3) trips back to Mexico to climb Orizaba again, which I would do in a heartbeat. Or it covers the cost for (6) 2-week trips to CO to climb 14ers. In that time frame I would climb all of them at least once. Hell it's a good chunk of a trip to S.A. You're dealing with a guy who drives a brand new pickup but cuts his own hair :lol:. So maybe the logic is a little screwy.

I could care less if I climb Rainier or end up heading to the NW for that matter. I am waiting for a call back from Exum on what they could offer me. At this point RMI is basically out of the question as they are booked tight. IMG has only 2 spots open that would work on their 3.5 day Muir climb over Memorial Day. Everything else is booked. Their 6 day course would be great but it's $2K all by itself.

To go over what I've found out, is with both IMG and RMI there is no way around not getting a car. That will add $300-$500 plus any required hotels. As it sits AAI is the only one that would not require a car but would require $350 in hotels, plus taxi, plus extra baggage fees. Their 6 day course in the Cascades would be perfect and it's inexpensive. Do they stop on the way out of town for food pick-up? Like I said, for me 6 days of food is a lot to bring along and would require another checked bag.

This is based on what I just took to Mexico and how much room I had left over. There wasn't much at all. You mention direct flights from Denver to Sacramento. I'm in WI so that really doesn't help me out. Plus there's lodging involved and the extra cost (I've checked) in airfare to fly to CA. Baggage fees on most airlines
other than Delta will run any $100-$200 and I can't find any Delta flights to get me there or Seattle. When you start to add up all the details/cost it keeps coming back to around $3K or a little less. I'm open to more options or if any of you would like to play travel agent :-D ?

Maybe getting the required training in S.A. is the way to go but I'd really like to head down there with some sort of experience ahead of time. Or justwing it and go? Hell I did Orizaba and really didn't have any issues. How bad could it be? Maybe I'm putting too much into this "need training" mentality I have. Seems foolish to not get something done ahead of time though. I'm sure I could wait and book this in a month or 2 or take an opening when someone drops out but at that point the cost of airfare would more than likely double.

Thanks for all the thoughts and ideas, at least it gets me thinking outside the box.

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Re: Logistics & cost to do a trip to the NW

Postby Gabriel » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:27 pm

I see you live in Wisconsin. If you have no interest in Rainier you can get all the training you need at Devil's Lake State park North of Madison. I did all my training there before my Denali climbs and continue to train there before annual trips to the Andes or Himalaya. There is great crack on the east bluff that you can use to simulate a crevasse rescue situation. With snow you can practice setting snow anchors and making bollards. Pulley systems for crevasses rescue can be complex so practicing every weekend before trip is better than practicing one time when you go out to Washington. I see you got up Orizabawithout guides so you must value beng a climber rather than a guided client. Teach yourself, it's really rewarding. PM me if you have questions. I live in Madison.

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