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Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

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Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby Cyde » Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:54 am

Hello,
This is my first post here. I'm thinking about my first summit attempt of Mt. Rainier in July. I'll be going with a guy I know who has been on the mountain 6 times and has summited once in summer and once in winter. I been lurking here and other boards and have read the popular books on Mt. Rainier and Mountaineering in general and I'm aware of the crevasse, and avalanche risk, but I'm wondering just how dangerous a summit attempt on this mountain for a newbie is? I mean, from what I read, July is one of the most busiest times on the mountain for climbers so I imagine the trails will be pretty well worn and my group won't be the only one on the mountain at any time during this period. I'm assuming the only real threat at this time in the season will be the weather. Am I wrong?

Thank you!
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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby Josh Lewis » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:33 am

Learn your crevasse rescue. Practice using an ice axe a lot too, I've had years of experience using one when I first climbed Rainier. And go on runs to get in good shape for this. This mountain was not as hard as I thought. But on the other hand never under estimate Rainier! How well do you know your partner? Practice good judgement and watch for falling ice. If you do this, your all set to go. 8)
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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby EastKing » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:39 am

Because your profile does not have much information, I don't know your experience level. It is very hard to offer advise for Mount Rainier unless I know what mountains you have been on and your previous experience. If you have more experience than what you seem to be mentioning and only take in what may apply.

If you are a total newbie (never hiked in snow) I honestly don't think going directly to Rainier is ever a smart call unless are you are willing to tackle a number of other mountains leading up to it. Rainier combines a glacier climb (though novice compared to others) with a high altitude hiking. It snows all year round, though the least in July. Rarely is it ever even above freezing during the day let alone during the night.

If you want to make this work consider heading up Wheeler Peak (you live in Texas) or a simliar in New Mexico this or next month so you can get a taste of high altitude and snow camping. Aim at New Mexico than maybe head up to Colorado if you can and try to tackle a 14er there. This will help you get somewhat of a feel of what you are about to do before you do and will emotionally and physically prepare you for what to expect on Rainier. The more you see, the easy physically, mentally and emotionally Rainier will become.

As for working out, PDX90 and running marathons may get you in better conditions but they will not harden for what you are about to encounter. I saw this very thing happen to a guy who never hiked in snow, attempted Rainier last year. He nearly got himself and my friend killed up at Camp Muir. They won't harden you to temp extremes, the blisters, the cold feet, the need to set a Z-pulley, the side traverses of steep slopes at what seems to feel like the edge of a cliff (if you go up the DC), and all the other struggles you will encounter on Rainier.

Rely less on them and more on using mountains to get you in shape for mountains. You have more than enough time to get ready and I know that if you follow is recommendation you have a good shot at having a safe and successful summit of Rainier. Good luck on your quest and hopefully we will see a success and enjoyable trip to Rainier and many of the wonderful trainers you did (ie Humphreys Peak, Wheeler Peak, Quandary, Torreys, Grays, etc.)
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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:13 pm

Cyde wrote: I'm assuming the only real threat at this time in the season will be the weather. Am I wrong?

Thank you!

In short, yes, you are wrong. Weather, avalanches (they have claimed lives in the summer), rockfall, serac fall, crevasse fall, falling on ice, high altitude illness, and hypothermia are all supremely possible. I would also question your partner's judgment. I would never want to be roped to an inexperienced climber on Mt. Rainier with out another experienced climber on my rope as well. If your partner falls into a crevasse, do you have the knowledge and skills to extract him? Are you gambling on another party coming by to rescue you guys? Here is an article that may be helpful: http://www.summitpost.org/so-you-want-t ... ier/507227
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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby BigMitch » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:25 pm

I second Excitableboy's concern about you.

Two on a rope is never a good idea unless their crevasse rescue skill levels are as good as guides.
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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby Josh Lewis » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:32 pm

These days I've been going on more trips with 2 man teams which if that is the case with you, you better know the 2 man crevasse rescue system. If I was you, I'd have at least a third person. What I said a few posts ago was indeed accurate but the undetailed version. :wink: My friend Gimpilator's climbing buddy fell into a crevasse last summer on Rainier and got injured. :o He was a very experienced mountaineer which I always say that things happen even to the best of climbers. So please take this with all seriousness!
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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:55 pm

We did a traverse of Mt. Ranier in July
Success Cleaver >> Diappointment Cleaver

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There was a lenticular cloud over the summit, ran into an utterly terrifying lightning storm on the summit. Twenty minutes of complete terror as we were constantly being electrocuted (like being stung by a swarm of bees for 20 minutes) broken by frequent blasts of lightning that seemed to brush my skin. We dumped our packs and ice axes and laid down in the snow. It snowed 6 inches in 20 minutes. Everytime the lightning hit, we sat up and flashed each other a "thumbs up" ("I'm still alive, how about you?").

Later on the descent we got to the bottom of Disappointment Cleaver late in the day. We were hesitant to cross below the icefall so late in the day, so we tried to bivy on some ledges. But the wind was cold and howling and we couldn't get out stove lit and we kept getting colder and colder and finally faced the fact that it was "Down or Death." So we ran down the glacier, praying that we wouldn't get creamed by an avalanche.

Made it the the stone hut at Paradise and had a nice warm sleep before hiking out to the car the next day.

Moral of the story: Even in July this is a serious mountain.
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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby lcarreau » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:20 am

Sorry, but I would never UNDERESTIMATE a mountain that has a "beverage" named after it ..

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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby Cyde » Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:05 am

Thank you all for your advice! I really appreciate it!! I won't be climbing with just my friend. He is going to asking other "vets" to go with us. I have read the "Mountaineering, Freedom of the Hills" and "Mt. Rainier, a Climbing Guide" I have practically memorized the Crevasse rescue section in the Freedom of the Hills book, and have watched every Youtude vid I can find on the subject, but I fully realize this is poor preparation for the real thing. If I had decided to attempt the summit earlier and if I knew what I know now about the mountain, I would have taken signed on to one of the guided services, but they are all full for this time of year.
Eastking, I appreciate your advice about training on other mounts and will seriously look into New Mexico. I already plan on doing some of the 14er's in Colorado in June. You are correct, I am a very green novice, with my only "peak" being Emory Peak in Big Bend National Park. That peak has a 50ft class 3 scramble at the very end, but just accomplishing that was enough for me to catch the climbing bug. I'm also planning on attempting Mt. Kilimanjaro next year, which is part of the reason why I would like to attempt the 14er's and Rainier, for the experience of climbing at altitude in the cold, and to see how I handle altitude, before sending all that money in attempting Kili. As of right now, I think I have the endurance to make it to the summit. I'm an avid runner, and I've done the P90x regiment once a year for the past 3 years. I'm gather my equipment for Rainier and I've heard I can rent the equipment from REI in the area. Is this true, and what equipment would you recommend renting? So far, I'm purchasing everything I think I'll need on Kili. Is it a good Idea to rent the following: crampons, helmet, ice ax, and snow shovel?

Thanks again!
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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby Sunny Buns » Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:59 am

I've done it twice via the Emmons Glacier and Camp Shurman from White River Campground. ~10,010 feet of gain. It is just a slog in the snow if noone falls in a crevasse and the weather is good. Once in July and once in August. Both times good weather. You walk around monster crevasses, and some you cross on snow bridges that don't look too safe, but we had no problems. The "trail" in the snow was good so route finding was easy. Start a little after midnight. Some had problems with altitude but all made it. I would not attempt it in bad weather and I am very experienced.

I would start hiking big hills as often as you can. I noted on the map that you can get in about 3000 feet of gain on Capitan Peak in New Mexico, near Capitan, NM. Looks like maybe 4 hours from Muleshoe. http://www.summitpost.org/capitan-peak/152409 Might get in more elevation on Sandia Peak by Albuquerque, but might be farther?

I'd do one or the other frequently. Maybe do Capitan Peak twice in a day. Maybe carry some water for weight and to douse yourself with if it's hot and dump some at the top to spare your knees on the way down. I've never been on the New Mexico peaks I am referring to so do your homework to discover the hazards to yourself, your car, etc and be careful on the long drives over there and back......long drives after climbing are very dangerous if you are tired. You can see hiking trails on this "my topo" website - I can't verify if they are right or wrong, or conditions, etc. http://www.mytopo.com/maps/index.cfm?search_string=capitan%2C+nm
If for some reason you can't do Rainier after you arrive, you can always run south to Mt. Adams a very nice climb - south side is non - technical just don't get off route onto the glaciers, or if you need to go farther south, you can go to South Sister near Bend, Oregon - a non-technical snow slog on the south side - very nice. Need to go farther than that to find good weather? Shasta in California has non-technical routes on the south side. An outstanding peak.

Good luck.
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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby DK » Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:55 pm

I climbed Rainier last July with guides. On my rope team were a guide (who'd climbed Everest 14 times) and a guy who had climbed five of Seven Summits. I felt like I was in good hands! We were lucky: everyone made it to the summit and we had no mishaps. Thankfully we didn't need to use self-arrest or any sort of rope skills. The mountain is very steep and wildly unpredictable: I've heard too many stories of bad things happening up there. Don't be embarrassed about turning around if the weather starts turning and make sure you stop to drink and snack frequently. It's very easy to get dehydrated. Good luck! It is an amazing experience!!
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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby lcarreau » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:33 am

DK wrote:It's very easy to get dehydrated. Good luck! It is an amazing experience!!


Yeah, a lot of this is associated with common sense. If your sense is more common than mine, be sure to drink (not just carry) plenty of water.

I mean, don't be like this DUDE ...

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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby DK » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:24 am

heyy.. are you making fun of him? :P
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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby lcarreau » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:35 am

DK wrote:heyy.. are you making fun of him? :P


Nope, I'm just more prone to drink more (water) in Arizona than I did when I was living in western Washington ...

I would never make fun of anyone on SP ... :D
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Re: Mt. Rainier in July. How dangerous is it?

Postby Josh Lewis » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:40 am

lcarreau wrote:Image


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