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Rainier July 2015

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Rainier July 2015

Postby nefarious_1_ » Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:54 pm

I know it's still a year away but I want it so badly... Unfortunately, none of my friends are willing to take me up on the attempt. I've never climbed a big mountain before, spending some time on a few summer accents of Mt Washington as well as some time in the ADKs. Having a lot of time to prepare, I plan on training through the winter and spring next year. I'll be taking an EMS advanced mountaineering class this winter at Lake Placid as well as doing winter climbing in the High Peaks and NH.

Basically, I'm just trying to get a feel for what kind of fitness level goal to shoot for and what to expect out of a guide service since I can't attempt this mountain on my own. I'd rather not shell out the $ but it seems a realistic and safer option at this point. I'd like to make an attempt from the DC route. Any suggestions as far as guide services and fitness goals? I bought the dvd Train to climb Mt Rainier and plan to start after my class in January.
Thanks in advance!
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Re: Rainier July 2014

Postby ExcitableBoy » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:16 pm

Hi,

This may be helpful: http://www.summitpost.org/so-you-want-t ... ier/507227. FWIW, Courtenay Shurman is my personal trainer and the advice she gives on her DVD is solid if a bit dense and detailed.

The advice I give is be as fit as you possibly can be. The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy the experience. Buy your own boots and break them in prior to your trip. Book your trip for July, after July 4th. Your chances of having good weather increase dramatically after July 4th (when the jet stream changes) and glacier conditions are usually still fine on the standard routes through August.

As for guide services, I would recommend Alpine Ascents International. If you can come up with the extra money, spring for a mountaineering course which focuses on skills training rather than simply a summit attempt (e.g. http://www.alpineascents.com/rainier-school.asp). You will learn more and you will already be paying for airfare, lodging, etc, so it won't be that much more expensive. Or, call up AAI and see if they would give you a discount if you were to do a mountaineering skills course (e.g. http://www.alpineascents.com/cascades6.asp) in addition to a summit climb on Rainier. You would see more of the Cascades and get good training as well as some acclimatization. The cost of the 6 day mountaineering course and the three day Rainier summit climb combined are about the same as the 8 day Mt Rainier skills course.

Hope that helps,

EB
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby Jesus Malverde » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:37 am

nefarious_1_,

Care of IMG:

http://www.mountainguides.com/rainier-training.shtml

Care of Alpine Ascents:
http://www.alpineascents.com/pdf/info/r ... -train.pdf

Good luck! She's a big, beautiful girl..:)
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby mrchad9 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:19 am

Here's a tip... ask the guides what time they start for the summit on summit day.

If they start at something like midnight or 1:00 am, I can assure you that they do NOT have your best interests in mind. Most guided parties seemed to start around then when I was there, but there is absolutely no real justification in doing so. Our group started maybe an hour and a half before sunrise and we had a slow member on our team. Even so... any earlier would be completely unjustified.

There is no point to climbing the whole thing in dark, when it is much colder at higher altitudes and the views are not quite as good! Also folks are more forced to press on in the cold, thus getting sick, nauseous, and often missing their summit opportunity.

So why do they start so early? Because they have one camp location set up for their clients, and they need you down, packed, and out of there before the next group moves into the same location the very same afternoon. This maximizes their returns at the expense of your enjoyment.

So ask that... and if you go with a guide look strongly at an actual course like the others above recommend, rather than a crew that will short rope you up and push you back down if you miss a few steps.
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:04 am

mrchad9 wrote:they start at something like midnight or 1:00 am... but there is absolutely no real justification in doing so.


I don't agree with that. The point of the alpine start is to get up and down the mountain before the snow conditions become difficult/dangerous and give the climbers/guests plenty of time to make the summit and back down. It is generally preferred to start in the dark rather than risk finishing in the dark. Guests who are not in the greatest condition and are new to glaciers and mountaineering can very easily take 12 hours from camp to camp. My preferred start time on Rainier is to wake up at 2:00 AM and be out of camp by 3:00 AM.
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby mrchad9 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:18 am

If it takes 12 hours camp to camp then you needn't start by midnight to be back by dusk.

3:00 AM is a lot dofferent than midnight anyway. And we saw them being bearded up at 12:00. So he should ask them...
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby pvnisher » Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:04 am

Be in as good of shape as you can. Long hikes with a medium pack and hills are, of course, the best. But if you don't have time for that, I like to do a lot of box jumps (about 2 feet high). Don't spring right back up, that can hurt your achilles. Can do step-ups on that box carrying weights or a pack, too. I also do jump lunges and 4-6 reps of 400m sprints (use the rest time between reps to do pushups, flutter kicks, pullups, etc). I find that those things give me the best return in terms of time spent. A strength session like that 2x a week mixed in with running other days has proven very good for me.

Regarding the start time, perhaps 1am is a bit early, but who cares? If the alternative is going solo (unwise) or teaming up with a group of strangers (could be ok, but who knows), then just do it.

If you are in good shape and have good weather, you will make it. It is not horrendously hard. You can't control the weather, but you can control your fitness, so do everything you can to be ready. If the other folks in your guided group get tired they will adjust the ropes, but they will take you to the top if you are in good shape and weather is good. Contrary to what some have said, there is no pulling people up, or turning them around because they stumble once or twice. Being on a shortened rope (short roping), is not the same as being pulled up the mountain as Krakauer described in Into Thin Air. No guide from AAI or RMI is going to be pulling anyone up Rainier, I promise.

I did Rainier in 2008 as my first real mountain, and got hooked. It was sort of the gateway drug for me.
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby Catamount » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:17 am

nefarious_1_ wrote:I know it's still a year away but I want it so badly... Unfortunately, none of my friends are willing to take me up on the attempt. I've never climbed a big mountain before, spending some time on a few summer accents of Mt Washington as well as some time in the ADKs. Having a lot of time to prepare, I plan on training through the winter and spring next year. I'll be taking an EMS advanced mountaineering class this winter at Lake Placid as well as doing winter climbing in the High Peaks and NH.

Basically, I'm just trying to get a feel for what kind of fitness level goal to shoot for and what to expect out of a guide service since I can't attempt this mountain on my own. I'd rather not shell out the $ but it seems a realistic and safer option at this point. I'd like to make an attempt from the DC route. Any suggestions as far as guide services and fitness goals? I bought the dvd Train to climb Mt Rainier and plan to start after my class in January.
Thanks in advance!


You are spot on with what you are planning in terms of training and preparation. Much of the winter hiking I did in the Adirondacks and Whites was with the thought that I'd be on big, snowy mountains one day. When I started seriously considering Rainier and other bigger mountains, I took the EMS class you mentioned and found it very worthwhile. Wound up summiting Rainier with IMG last year via the DC route. Thought it was an outstanding program. Instead of the traditional two-day blitz offered by RMI, it's a three-day program. Night one was at Camp Muir (hut), night two was at Ingraham Flats (tent) looking across at Little Tahoma and we started out for the summit around 3 AM IIRC. Would highly recommend the program and the guides. Really great experience. Good luck.

... and July 2015 is two years away. :wink:
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:10 pm

mrchad9 wrote:If it takes 12 hours camp to camp then you needn't start by midnight to be back by dusk.


No, but one needs to be off the glacier before the heat of the day weakens snow bridges, makes snow soft for sloppy climbing, and creates potential wet slide and rockfall issues. 3:00 AM start is only 2 hours after 1:00 AM, not a huge difference considering the safety margin guides must maintain with their guests.
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby JonW » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:13 pm

mrchad9 wrote:If it takes 12 hours camp to camp then you needn't start by midnight to be back by dusk.

3:00 AM is a lot dofferent than midnight anyway. And we saw them being bearded up at 12:00. So he should ask them...


As EB pointed out, it's more about snow conditions. There's a good chance the OP will go for the DC route. Ever see those rocks on the Cowlitz Glacier while heading to Cathedral Gap? They tend to come down during the late afternoon hours. I tend to avoid falling rocks and recommend being back to camp before the heat of the day.
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby mrchad9 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:43 pm

I climbed DC. As all the guided parties were coming down after climbing in the dark, without any sleep, and looking miserable and were ascending we just laughed. They did not look happy.

But we had a great time up there exploring the caves and hanging out on the summit. Met several parties who were coming up various routes while we were up there. All were in good spirits and none of them guided! And none started at midnight or 1:00 AM!
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby BMS914 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:28 pm

Summited via DC route on Sunday. We left our camp on the Muir Snowfield at 1:00am. Not guided, just my climbing partners Collin and Rich (Xandish here on SP).

Main DC route and backup had collapsed snowbridges on Friday, parties coming down saying no chance to summit and other defeatist BS.

We made it up a route with some big crevasses and impressive snowbridges, and even a cool 20+' mild ice wall to climb.

Nearly got taken out by massive rockfall below cathedral rocks. Two minutes ahead an we would have been under washing machine size boulders. So I think the 1:00am start is worth it, as it gets you less melting time, and time to deal with the inevitable traffic jams. We probably spent 3 hours waiting for people to learn how to climb.
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby mountainsandsound » Sat Jul 27, 2013 2:20 am

mrchad9 wrote:If they start at something like midnight or 1:00 am, I can assure you that they do NOT have your best interests in mind. Most guided parties seemed to start around then when I was there, but there is absolutely no real justification in doing so.


Sort of defies conventional wisdom regarding glaciers and snowbridges.

Between Baker and Rainier, I haven't seen too many parties (guided or not) starting up from base camp much after 2 or 3 unless they are skiers in early season waiting for good corn snow.

Besides, and earlier start means you get to enjoy that trailhead brew sooner and maybe hit town before everything is closed and all you have for food options is the mini-mart burrito.
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby mrchad9 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 2:32 am

You guys seem confused. If you read what I said you will note that I suggested 12 or 1 AM is earlier than optimal.

Then you all suggest otherwise by saying you and lots of others leave at 2 or 3 AM.

Makes sense!
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Re: Rainier July 2015

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:59 pm

mrchad9 wrote:You guys seem confused. If you read what I said you will note that I suggested 12 or 1 AM is earlier than optimal.

Then you all suggest otherwise by saying you and lots of others leave at 2 or 3 AM.

Makes sense!


I'll try to break it down for you. I ran guided parties differently than my personal trips. I start earlier and make overall more conservative decisions. On personal climbs I've left as late as 6:00 AM from high camp on Rainier, and was the first to summit on those routes, simply because I know how fast my partners and I are capable of climbing. With guests I fully anticipate the round trip to take up to four times longer. Guides are paid not to drag guests to the top, but for their knowledge and decision making abilities. Guides must maintain a larger margin of safety with their guests than they would on personal trips. That extra 2 hour cushion is part of that. Using the start time as a rubric for choosing a guide service is silly. They all start summit day earlier than you or I would on personal trips. Even the big clubs like the Seattle Mountaineers and the Washington Alpine Club make similar decisions. During courses they get up at the crack of midnight on summit day as well.

Are you an engineer by any chance? You remind me of some engineers I know who get too wrapped up in semantics and fail to comprehend the overarching message.
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