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Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

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Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby owenel » Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:35 pm

Hi,

I'd like to do a glacier climb in the Northwest, partly as preparation for the Mexican Volcanoes later in the year, and I'm trying to decide whether to do Rainier ($1200), or save money and do baker or shuksan instead ($750). The climb will be in late may. I know that Rainier is higher and more technical, but if baker or shuksan can provide a sufficient preparation, then I prefer to save the money (also the Northern Cascades look amazing). My only experience is basic mountaineering courses (rope work, selfarrest, no glacier skills), ice climbing, and Colorado 14ers.

Other notes: Regarding fitness level, I'm training for a 15k run in March, and that will the farthest I've ever run. The highest I've climbed in one day is 3000 feet (on Mt Bierstadt and Mt. Evans).

Thanks for providing input and opinions. Let me know if there's a better forum for this question, by the way.

Thanks
Last edited by owenel on Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:55 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby MoapaPk » Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:36 pm

Do the Mexican volcanoes have any significant glaciers, with crevasses?
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby owenel » Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:39 pm

They have glaciers though I don't know the exact characteristics. I'm basing my assumptions mostly on the warnings on the guiding sites that glacier experience is absolutely necessary for such expeditions.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby AlexeyD » Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:06 pm

From a technical perspective, Baker or Shuksan will be more than sufficient preparation. The standard route on Orizaba is by most standards an easier route than Rainier's - less glacier travel, more straightforward, smaller crevasses, about the same angle - but from the perspective of experiencing mountaineering at high altitude, a Rainier ascent will be much more valuable than Baker or Shuksan. Of course, this isn't to say that just because you climb Rainier you won't experience altitude sickness on Orizaba, but at least you'll know what it's like and maybe have a better idea of how your body reacts to it and thus what you can do it mitigate it.

edited: out of curiosity, are you planning to climb Orizaba guided or unguided?
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby owenel » Sun Feb 06, 2011 2:07 am

Thanks for the response, that's along the lines of what I was wondering about. I figured rainier is a better *test* or predicter of success on higher mountains than baker. I plan to do orizaba guided.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby sneakyracer » Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:26 pm

Rainier should be much tougher than any of the standard routes on the mex volcanoes by a good margin. The only tough parts on the volcanoes are: the last 2000FT ice/snow climb to the top of Orizaba and the ridge traverses (up and downs) at above 16k FT on Izta. Each of those Mex volcanoes require climbing 4k FT in a day but mostly on a trail (rocks/scree, loose dirt) with the exception of the labrynth and summit cone on orizaba (ice/snow) and some posible snow traverses and la panza crosssing (easy snow) on Izta. No deep, nasty, Rainier style crevasses anywhere. No seracs, no nasty icefalls, little to none avalanche potential unlike Rainier. There is soem rockfall on Orizaba so wear a helmet and be on the lookout.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:11 pm

If you are looking at climbing Rainier/Baker/Shuksan to learn the technical aspects of climbing a glaciated volcano, then Baker is going to be every bit as good as Rainier with a lot less red tape and money. If you are looking to 'stress test' your fitness then Rainier is pretty hard to beat. Baker still requires a 7,000 ft elevation gain so it will test fitness but in my experience above 10,000 feet is where a lot of people start to have problems with the altitude. You mentioned you have already climbed several Colorado 14ers so you should have an idea of how your body responds to altitude.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby ClimbandBike » Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:31 pm

Adams could be another volcano to consider preparing on. Little bit higher than Baker and still 7k of gain. Good luck.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby owenel » Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:17 pm

Thank you for the incredibly informative replies. This is a great forum with a lot of helpful and knowledgeable members. Baker is sounding like a great introductory mountain for me. Eventually I do want to climb Rainier, but maybe someday I'll have the experience to do it without paying for a guide.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby owenel » Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:47 pm

ClimbandBike wrote:Adams could be another volcano to consider preparing on. Little bit higher than Baker and still 7k of gain. Good luck.


I wonder if I could easily combine a solo ascent of Adams south spur route with the baker guided climb.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:12 pm

owenel wrote:
ClimbandBike wrote:Adams could be another volcano to consider preparing on. Little bit higher than Baker and still 7k of gain. Good luck.


I wonder if I could easily combine a solo ascent of Adams south spur route with the baker guided climb.


You could do that but it will require driving for 7-8 hours between trailheads. I would recommend a solo ascent of the Ruth-Icy traverse since you would be in the same neck of the woods. It would require roughly the same amount of miles and elevation gain and have similar technical difficulties (not much) but be more scenic and closer to Mt Baker.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:13 pm

Tazz,

We replied at the same time. Great minds think alike I suppose.

EB
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby AlexeyD » Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:09 pm

sneakyracer wrote:Each of those Mex volcanoes require climbing 4k FT in a day


Not necessarily. It's possible to make a high camp at about 4,900 meters, shortly before the base of the Jamapa glacier. In fact, making a double carry to this camp from base camp is a good way to acclimate, and the campsite itself is in a spectacular setting. We did exactly that during our ascent in 2005 and it was worth it IMO.[/quote]

sneakyracer wrote: little to none avalanche potential unlike Rainier.


Again, not necessarily true. What is true is that the Mexican volcanoes are typically climbed during the dry season (Dec-Feb), and the dry-wet season does seem to be more pronounced in southern Mexico than the Cascades, so yes, statistically you are less likely to encounter avalanche conditions simply because there is less probability of recent snowfall. However, if it happens to snow the day before your ascent (which it can, and has, even during the dry season) , the summit cone of Orizaba will be as avalanche-prone than any of the Rainier routes;it's a 2000-foot, 35-45 degree, wide open snow slope, which is pretty much ideal avalanche terrain.

I wouldn't worry too much about this, though if you are with a guided group - I doubt they will take you up if there's even a chance of avy danger on the route...
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