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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 » Sun Feb 06, 2011 2:17 am

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

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:03 pm

Mt Baker is just as technical as Mt Rainier and the crevasses just as big. Mt Baker requires far less red tape and permits and such and the views from the summit are much better than Rainier. Mt Baker has more of a wilderness feel than either the DC or Emmons routes. If you want to climb a big, glaciated peak for the firsst time, Baker is a really good choice.

Mt Shuksan is also a wonderful peak, I have climbed and skiied it many times by half a dozen different routes. Generally speaking, Mt Shuksan is MORE technincal than either Rainier or Baker. It has only one really basic route which is the Sulphide Glacier. For learning and practicing glacier travel there are much better choices. Baker comes to mind.

Regarding fitness level, if you can climb Baker, Rainier, or Shuksan without undue difficulty, then you are probably fit enough for the Mexican volcanos.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby owenel » Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:44 pm

That's extremely helpful, and definitely has me leaning toward baker.Thank you. Other options I was considering were Mt. Hood and Mt. Shasta, but the impression I got was they were less technical and less glaciated than these others.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby pearson » Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:31 pm

Personally I think you are doing it backwards. I recommend climbing the Mexican volcanoes to prep for Rainier and then Rainier to prep for Baker. For the Mexican volcanoes the main thing you need is exposure to altitude.
If you just want altitude exposure you might go to CO to climb some 14ers, although the high 13ers are generally more interesting and not nearly as heavily traveled. From my perspective Baker is the most serious mountain of the bunch (Citlatepetl, Ixtacihuatl, Rainier, and Baker) in terms of crevasse danger. It happens to be the lowest by a good bit. Crevasse danger is minimal/nonexistent on the Mexican volcanoes (at least it was when I was there 4 and 6 years ago). I suppose things could've changed. I personally found Baker to be the most intimidating of all those peaks. The 10,700' you'll experience on Baker isn't much help for the volcanoes where you'll likely drive to somewhere between 13-15,000' (depending on which volcano and which route) and then sleep which is in fact fairly dangerous in its own right. I can't remember where I heard this story but rumor has it that a French astronomer died at the radio telescope on Sierra Negra on the south side of Orizaba. He flew into Mexico City and was driven to the telescope on top of Sierra Negra (about 15,000') and went to sleep and never woke up. On the Mexican volcanoes the issue is altitude not glaciers. Ignore people who tell you that they climbed some peak and didn't have any trouble with altitude and therefore you won't either. WHo succumbs to altitude sickness is pretty random and it is really dangerous. Consider that not long after Hillary summited Everest he stopped sleeping above 8,000' because he had started being vulnerable to altitude sickness.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:32 pm

pearson wrote:Personally I think you are doing it backwards.

I had the same initial reaction, but if I were to travel internationally, I would want to have some experience and confidence since international travel can be challenging for some of us in its own right.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby sneakyracer » Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:09 pm

Hi, why not go to Mt. Adams? The south spur route is pretty easy and will get you some snow hiking/climbing experience at a decent altitude but without being highly dangerous. Its a good route for conditioning too. It might offer some good self arrest and crampon practice also depending on the conditions. Mount Shasta (Avy Gulch) is another good place to do all that (if weather and conditions cooperate) also and have some fun without the crevase danger that you have on Baker and Rainier. Hire a guide to learn rope, ice axe and crampon skills for better performance and safety. Those trips will also help you tune in on your gear choices and needs.

In Rainier you can take a course that not necessarily involves a summit push but concentrates on ice and snow travel safety. You want to spend some time on the ice learning stuff not rushing to make it to the top and down under a very tight schedule and stress with a bunch of strangers.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby owenel » Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:38 pm

to resurrect this thread... i was regarding the cascades peaks as prep for orizaba because of the advice on guiding sites i visited. e.g. http://www.rmiguides.com/international/ ... ifications. I'm pretty sure I even saw mont blanc cited as a prep climb for orizaba on another site.

anyway, since my original post, i have climbed adams and hood, which have given me a better idea of my fitness level. neither was easy for me and I was the slowest or one of the slowest climbers in both groups. i also had a headache on adams, though i think that was related to poor hydration the day before. anyway, i'm thinking seriously about orizaba this winter, which should give me time to train quite a bit. also considering mont blanc in september, though not sure if i'm able to go from hurting on hood to summiting on mont blanc in one month ;)

i've also been considering just doing ixta, but i think i'll probably regret not going for orizaba if i organize a trip around ixta and find that i can climb it without any problems. of course, if i can't even summit ixta, i'd probably be glad i didn't pay for a guided trip on orizaba... fortunately have several months to chew on these questions.
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Re: Rainier, Baker, or Shuksan as prep for Mexican Volcanoes

Postby DukeJH » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:16 pm

Having climbed in the North Cascades (El Dorado) and in Mexico (Izta and Orizaba), I echo most of the points above. Altitude, not objective hazard is the issue in Mexico. The larget crevasse I saw on Orizaba was 2" wide. On Izta, we took Las Rodillas (The Knees) because the Ayaloco Glacier had just about melted out. If you are confident with self arrest and are fit for the altitude you should be fine on the mountains in Mexico.

One of our Mexico team who had climbed extensively including previous trips to Mexico, Kili, and Elbrus got AMS pretty badly once we set camp at La Jolla before ascedning to the hut on Izta. We ended up injecting him anti-nausea meds so he could keep a diamox down. Although he slept through the night, he descended back to town and passed on Izta. He attempted Orizaba only to have to turn back before dawn, again due to AMS and vomiting.
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