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Any good places to 'aclimatize' before a Rainier summit?

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Postby ExcitableBoy » Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:20 pm

Here is another thought. Common wisdom suggests the best way to acclimate is to climb high and sleep low. What about going to a sub range where you can camp at around 5,500 feet and do day climbs to 9,000+ ft summits? I am specifically thinking of the Stuart Range/Enchantments. Mt Stuart, Colchuck Peak, and Dragontail Peak all have easy scramble routes and would get you up to and above 9,000 ft. Plus you would see a totally different aspect of the Cascades than the stratovolcanoes. And the weather is usually better over there too.
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Postby NJTripper » Thu Apr 15, 2010 6:10 pm

Thanks for all the info... Sounds like a day or 2 on Adams could work...

I need to look into the Stuart Range (sounds interesting.. and would appease the 'tourist' in me... wanting to see different areas...)

My trip isn't until 1st week August... but I want to get the logistics (dates, flights, rentals and such) lined up now so there are no suprises. I will be climbing w/ a guided group... but I don't have much experience at high altitude.. so I am looking to do anything in my power to improve the odds of success...

I continue to 'ramp-up' my training at home.. but (coming in from NJ - with limited access to anything over 6,000 ft... ) I cannot 'train' at altitude very easily...

Yes... I've climbed to 14k (Whitney) and several hikes up to 11 - 13k (Charleston, Wheeler Pk, Pikes Peak...) and have not had any specific altitude issues... (though summit-day on Whitney did suck the life outta me...)

Thing is... with limited vacation time for these endeavors - I need to do everything I can to improve chances of success for this summit attempt... and aclimatizing seems an obvious opportunity..

(Yes.. coming back is always an option... but then that takes time from other places I want to go!)

Thanks all for ideas... got some reasrch to do now... (good thing I have time to work it all out...)
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Postby fatdad » Thu Apr 15, 2010 6:38 pm

A couple of things to consider are how fit you are and how well you've acclimated in the past.

If you acclimate well, it's definitely doable to climb the DC in a couple of days. You'll feel the altitude on day two though. When I did it, a friend and I drove up non stop from LA, got to Paradise and hiked up to Camp Muir (which felt mellow), climbed to the top and descended for showers and dinner at Paradise that day (which felt not so mellow). Having said that, it would have been more enjoyable to have climbed Adams or some other nearby peak first. That was just the time we had available. Moreover, both my partner and I knew we acclimate well. We'd both done Whitney in a day from sea level at least a couple times, every time without problems.

Another issue is weather. Since this is the PNW, you may have fine weather on your acclimation climb but then get bad weather that may limit your chances on Rainer. When I climbed it, it was late in the season and didn't have the weather window to acclimate on a more leisurely basis so we were kind of forced to go for it. Given good weather and enough time, however, it'll be far more enjoyable to take your time.
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Postby AndyJB444 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 6:46 pm

You'll be fine! Trust your fitness, stay hydrated, and have fun!
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Postby bodyresults » Sun Apr 18, 2010 6:30 am

[quote="NJTripper"]

Thing is... with limited vacation time for these endeavors - I need to do everything I can to improve chances of success for this summit attempt... and aclimatizing seems an obvious opportunity..
quote]

Even during the summer you will get several days where weather conditions are such that virtually no one summits on those days. If you happen to pick the wrong date, too bad for you.

Taking that into account and your desire for better acclimatization what I would do is if I wanted to give myself the greatest chance of summit success is to make a camping reservation for 1 night at Muir (10K) and 3 nights at Ingraham flats (11K). In an ideal situation you would camp at Muir night 1, have a rest/acclimatization day and move to Ingraham flats for night 2 and summit and get out on day 3.

A 3 day climb where you summit on day 3 makes acclimatization a lot easier.

If weather is poor for the first few days you have a few extra days to wait it out and try later. This puts the odds much more in your favor.

You might consider having additional climbing plans so if you get down early you could take full advantage of the area and climb something else.

Good luck.
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Postby nhluhr » Wed Apr 21, 2010 5:52 pm

I had a similar dilemma before I moved back to the area. I ended up going from PDX directly to Mount Adams for the South Climb. We slept at lunch counter, summitted, then returned to the car. The following days, we did scenic hikes around Rainier and basically spent as much time at altitude as we could.

Some great hikes in the area include the Skyline hike at Paradise, High Rock Fire Lookout off FR84 (south of Ashford), and of course the Camp Muir hike. For best effect, stay at Paradise Inn, but realize that it's about an hour drive up/down and if you're going with a guiding company, you need to be back down generally for the meet/greet.

Don't underestimate your ability to improve 14k acclimation by spending time at 6k. Go explore the Whites on some tough hikes before you come.
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Postby QITNL » Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:55 am

Hey - I'm a little late to the party, but I want to toss in the Goat Rocks. I used to love them when I was a kid. They'll only get you up to 8K, but they're real close to Rainier.
http://www.summitpost.org/area/range/17 ... ks-wa.html
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Postby NJTripper » Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:14 pm

QITNL wrote:Hey - I'm a little late to the party, but I want to toss in the Goat Rocks.


Never too late... thanks for the info re: goat rocks...

I am looking to come out to WA 2-4 days before my scheduled climb on Rainier.. both to aclimatize (to the degree possible) and to see more of the area.

Even if high-camps are not an option on G/R's ... may be a 'post-Rainer' option before I fly back east... (have a couple days after climb to play with also...)
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Postby climberska » Wed May 12, 2010 8:58 pm

Here are two options:

1) Fly to Portland, rent a car, drive to Trout Lake, Wa, go to the ranger station and get a climbing permit and wilderness permit. Ask about conditions if they are in but in any case, call them before you fly. Ask about the road from Trout Lake to Randle, WA - is it open and OK for passenger cars - it should be fine. Also ask about road to south side trail head on Mt. Adams -it also should be fine in August. Drive to mountain and climb the south side of Adams (it's non-technical, just a snow and scree slog). Lots of camp sites once the trail crosses the creek at about 7,000' - campsites can be found on all the ridges along the trail - just go off trail a little and find one -it's mostly open with a few trees on the ridges. Very scenic, good for acclimatization. When done, drive to Randle, then to Mount Rainier.


2) Fly to Seattle, rent a car and drive to Mowich Lake. Get a back country permit on the way there. (Call the Park Service and ask where to get the permit.) Hike up to the meadows at around 6,000' I think, go off trail the required 1/2 mile or whatever the rule is, and camp out. There are bears in the area around the meadows so do keep a clean camp, and consider carrying bear spray. Do some hiking or backpacking to acclimatize, then go meet your party when ready to climb.

For either option, call to get information from the government bureaucrats and make sure you know what government papers are required. Especially for the park service.

I'd do Adams. Less bureaucracy, very scenic.
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Postby climberska » Wed May 12, 2010 9:02 pm

for the 2 options i mentioned above, the drive time to the trail heads is ballpark 3-4 hours in either case.

On Adams, you could arrive at any hour since a climbing permit is available self-serve at the ranger station in Trout Lake. Just have the money in cash to put in the fee envelope. Oh, and on the way back to Portland, don't go via Mt. Adams, take the highway to Morton, Wa, then west to I-5. Check the map. MRNP to Portland, is about 4 hour drive, maybe 5 to Emmons glacier side of Rainier.

A back country permit is probably available for Mount Rainier only during ranger work hours, whatever those are.
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Postby John Duffield » Wed May 12, 2010 9:42 pm

Brad Marshall wrote:
dskoon wrote:
billisfree wrote:My biggest concern is not aclimatization... but getting in shape. Aclimatization is for higher mountains.


Uh, acclimatization can be fairly important on something that is 14,000+ft. Can even be important on smaller stuff, as altitude affects everyone differently.


I agree. For most climbers altitudes in this range don't pose a serious health hazard like HAPE or HACE but it can occur and should always be on your mind. For many though these altitudes pose more of a physical difficulty on summit day. Those strong climbers on the PNW can ascend something like Rainier in two days but for many climbers the 4,000+ foot summit day after they just got to 10,000' is too much. Perhaps that's why the summit rate is only around 50% for this montain on the normal routes. A better strategy would be to climb it in three days hiking up to 12-12,500 on the second day to help acclimatization.


+ 1

In January, I spent a night in the 8000 range and then to 12,500 feet the next day. The barfing takes a lot of water and nutrition out of you. If you're serious about summiting, as opposed to just an attempt, you'll take the time.
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Postby climberska » Thu May 13, 2010 5:49 am

Someone said:


In January, I spent a night in the 8000 range and then to 12,500 feet the next day.



Did you sleep at 12,500 or just hike up to that elevation and then hike back down to 8,000 to sleep? Coming from sea level I would not want to sleep at 12,500 on night 2 unless I'd been at altitude quite a bit recently.

I've heard the helicopters hauling people off of Lunch Counter in the middle of the night more than once.

I have observed people barfing and having fairly major problems on Hood and on Rainier. I would have quit, but they rested a bit, got up and made the summit. Don't know how they do it - lots of will power I guess.

For a loner coming from sea level who has little altitude experience I'd think this plan would be fairly safe:
Day 1: Fly to Portland, drive to Adams trail head, sleep near car.
Day 2: Hike to about 8000' and camp. Lots of good camp sites at that elevation.
Day 3: Summit Adams, return to car. You'll be too tired to drive to Rainier safely after the climb. You could make it part way, perhaps to a FS campground or to Trout Lake, or just stay at the Adams trailhead.
Day 4: Drive to Rainier.
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Postby cms829 » Thu May 13, 2010 9:23 pm

you'll be fine. I've slept at 11,500 feet on day two coming from sea level a couple times. Sleep at cougar rock or something, better then sea level, and do some hiking.
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Postby John Duffield » Tue May 18, 2010 3:26 pm

climberska wrote:Someone said:


In January, I spent a night in the 8000 range and then to 12,500 feet the next day.



Did you sleep at 12,500 or just hike up to that elevation and then hike back down to 8,000 to sleep? Coming from sea level I would not want to sleep at 12,500 on night 2 unless I'd been at altitude quite a bit recently.

I've heard the helicopters hauling people off of Lunch Counter in the middle of the night more than once.

I have observed people barfing and having fairly major problems on Hood and on Rainier. I would have quit, but they rested a bit, got up and made the summit. Don't know how they do it - lots of will power I guess.

For a loner coming from sea level who has little altitude experience I'd think this plan would be fairly safe:
Day 1: Fly to Portland, drive to Adams trail head, sleep near car.
Day 2: Hike to about 8000' and camp. Lots of good camp sites at that elevation.
Day 3: Summit Adams, return to car. You'll be too tired to drive to Rainier safely after the climb. You could make it part way, perhaps to a FS campground or to Trout Lake, or just stay at the Adams trailhead.
Day 4: Drive to Rainier.


I slept at the 8700 feet! I was surprised I had trouble during the day. I'd always been ok during the days, it was the nights that usually got me.

You plan sounds good. With an intelligent well thought out plan, taking the time this gorgeous mountain deserves, there's simply no reason to barf. I've made some summits barfing along the way (Kili for one) and people couldn't believe I actually summitted but I can't say it was one of my more pleasant experiences. I don't particularly care for rehydration salts for one thing.
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