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giggy
12-21-2004, 12:43 PM
No sure where I should post this - but here it goes. I am new to VFTT, but not to hiking/climbing. I am trying to plan ahead. I am planning to try for some bigger stuff out west like rainer or hood - eother this summer or next. I think I am ready to to go (with a guide of course). My experience lies solely in the whites. I have tried to do my own research I have heard that these peaks are anywhere from easy to the toughest thing out there. Subjective opinions of course. I personally feel I am good shape as I can easily blaze 8 to 12 miles in the whites in the winter in a day - I can carry the 40 pound pack, etc... I have the axe, crampons, exp and know how to deal with the weather. That being said - peaks are higher. Does anyone have experiencne on either of these - and how hard is it? Is anything in whites comparable? I would think -conditions in the winter in the whites are harsher - is this correct? I am trying to gage how similar the trip up rainer would be to say - a washington winter climb? How different? I know altitude will be a factor (unknown factor), Rainer is about 9000 feet gain in 2 days. I know I can do 4500 one day and 4500 the next in the whites, but how different would rainer be?

Basically, I am trying to determine how far off I am. - or close?

thanks for any advice

jfb
12-21-2004, 12:56 PM
I did Mt. Rainier by the Disappointment Cleaver route on Memorial Day weekend in 1983. The first day, we carried full packs to Camp Muir and slept there a few hours. We rose around midnight and took daypacks to the top and back, picked up the backpacks and hiked down, then drove to the airport before dark. Physically, it was probably similar to climbing Mt. Washington via Central Gully in winter, on two consecutive days. To acclimatize, we did Mt. Baker as a dayhike the day before we started up Mt. Rainier and still didn't have any problems. From your brief description, you sound ready.

deadpoint
12-21-2004, 10:01 PM
RMI (Rainier Mtn Guides) is the only guide company allowed to guide on rainier. some of the other guide companies have been trying to change this, can you say monopoly, but i don't thinks it's happened yet.

you'll pack in 50lbs+ loads in for 2 days, camp 1 and 2. expect to start summit day around 1am. get 'mount rainier, a climing guide' by mike gauther it's very good, i'm looking at it right now. i'm using it to plan a tip their on 2006, going to denali this spring.

for training i'd run run run run run!!

good luck

Guinness
12-21-2004, 10:14 PM
Giggy,

You hit one my favorite subjects, Mt Rainier and Mt. Hood. I have done Mt Rainier in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and Mt. Hood in 1998 and 2000 so my memory is still fresh. On both mountains I went without a guide. My climbing partner and myself have total trust in each otherís abilities.

On Mt. Rainier, we went the Disappointment Cleaver route. Depending on conditions, RMI will mark a route through or around the icefall. They will leave ladders and ropes where needed. Everyone can use this route. You should leave the parking area (5500í) in the morning on day one and proceed on the paved walkway to 7200í. On my trips, the snow pack started there and a route to Camp Muir will be well traveled. There is no need to rope up on this leg of the route. If you have difficulties getting to Camp Muir on the first day, There are several rocky areas to the right of the ascent where you can pitch a tent for the evening.

There are facilities, including a public bunkhouse there, however, I would suggest bringing a tent. I did not get much sleep while using the bunkhouse. It is almost impossible to get a good night sleep when you are sharing with 20 other guys, each of which sing a different tune while sleeping. Bring a shovel to dig through the surface for clean snow for water. One suggestion, it takes a lot of fuel to boil water enough for the climbing team every day. I brought a filter, which I used after melting the snow and saved at least one hour per day for a team of three.

I have found it enjoyable to make it a three-day event. On my first trip, day two was used to explore the glaciers. If possible practice youíre climbing skills on this rest day. We ran a belay that allowed each of us to drop into a crevasse on a rope and practice self-extraction. There are many areas to explore around Camp Muir. On day three at 1:30 in the morning, leave for the summit. Carry with you a good headlamp and extra batteries to provide enough light ahead of you to look for crevasses. If you leave early enough, you can follow the RMI train. You will not be alone. The traffic on this route will most certainly leave a good trail to follow. By noon you will be standing at Point Success and the summit is yours.

Good Luck,

TCD
12-22-2004, 09:27 AM
You received a lot of good beta here! The two most important pieces, to my mind, are: acclimatize for altitude, and get trained in glacier travel.

TCD

giggy
12-22-2004, 10:53 AM
this was awesome all - thanks - I do plan to go guided as I have zero glaicer and altitude exp. Though thinking of not using RMI - but Eric Simonson's group - which look like a better deal for the $$ RMI is 800 for the 2 day climb and Simonsons outfit is 1350 for a 5 day climb up a more remote route. It also included dinner and hotel the night before for the groupp which would give a good time to meet the folks.

It just looks like I would get more out of this one for the dollar. More teaching, more time to practice glaice travel, etc... It looks more like a clinic than just a guided climb.

Now the hard part - convince my wife to let me go!!

thanks again all.

if interested:

http://www.rainierguides.com/registration.html

KZKlimber
12-23-2004, 10:57 AM
We too were planning a Ranier trip this summer, except we were considering the multi-day RMI Mountaineering school since it includes several days of instruction and acclimitization. There is a 5 day expedition seminar that does not use the Camp Muir bunkhouse, but camps on the glacier expedition style. There is also a 5 day camp Muir seminar in which you sleep in the bunkhouse each night.

If you are interested in becoming self sufficient on higher peaks the expedition seminar is worth looking into.

We have actually chosen the Alaska Mountaineering School 6 day course on Denali. The cost is equivalent to a Ranier seminar both in travel cost and course fees. It will prepare us to climb Ranier or Denali unguided. While you obviously do not summit Denali in a 6 day course, you do summit 1-2 peaks in the 8-12 K foot elevation range as part of the course. The course is Denali style expedition including a Kahiltna glacier landing and use of sleds for load hauling. We felt this provides us with a better experience base for future expeditons to Ranier, Denali, and Aconcagua.

Michael M
12-24-2004, 11:56 AM
G

Generally the conditions in the Whites in winter are more severe and you would have to pack more gear. On a GOOD weather summer day Rainier is a walk in the park with a hundred strangers. While this extra company may lead the inexperienced astray it also provides constant contact for trail finding, and hazard avoidance, weather, rescue etc. Personally I think that guides remove the very experience we seek when we travel in the mountains. Good judgment, basic skills and being fit are whatís required. If you have survived winters in the whites you probably have the right stuff --- or have been very lucky.


I have climbed Rainier a number of times and most recently with my 13-year-old son.

Consider the following

Spend a night on the mountain at 5500 feet in a campsite, then leave early and hike past Camp Muir and the entire hubbub and make a high camp at Ingram Flats. (11,000ft) Make sure you are not over a crevasse or subject the frequent nearby stone falls. Sleep in a bit and wait for the heard to pass (2amó3am) and follow them up. This should be quite safe, especially if they are not taking Disappointment Cleaver route, which has some stone, fall risk. Go light and move fast to stay warm the sun will eventually come up. Most of the guides will turn around if the weather looks bad.

I would also recommend taking Diamox three days before and two on the mountains for HACE/HAPE and stay very hydrated. This is very effective and I use it all the time for short hops. Get enough drugs to experiment on a local hike to see how well you tolerate them.

Make sure you know/understand the mountain drill because this is basically a walk, and possibly a walk into trouble if you donít have the skills.

Also donít go falling into any crevasses because that will really complicate your day.

Have a great trip!
__________________
Michael C M ADK #W280

*

Michael M
12-25-2004, 10:47 AM
Kevin

Direct is good.

There is ZERO route finding when following the herd path, I mean really --
you can see the track when flying out of SeaTac from the air! And the chain of people.

Because of the heavy guided traffic, there is no ďhiddenĒ crevasse danger. Again this is a well-trodden path. I agree there is some stone fall risk, as Rainier after all is a volcano. Yes the DC area is a shooting gallery and you take your chances as always with objective dangers.

All of the above is contingent on weather which can create an entirely different experience (under statement!!) But, that being said weather reports are incredibly accurate and cell phone coverage keeps you up to the minute with weather changes. Gone are the days when you had to summit only to find the coming pacific storm.

"I've climbed to Camp Muir one day in brilliant sunshine wondering why the snow rangers would wand the route, only to return the next being damn they did."

After all how do you think the ranger knew to wand the route? --- Yes a weather report!

I do believe the weather in the winter whites and DAKs to be excellent conditioning for summer mountaineering.

Again I agree the dangers are "very real" and they need to be assessed intelligently so as not to minimize or exaggerate. So to put it into perspective consider the following. Of the Approximately 10, 000 attempts each year to summit rainier 5,500 are successful and the mountain averages less than 3kills per year. In the past 150 years 88 have lost their lives. This includes Willis wall -- all routes, which are more effective killers.

While it is true that this is some what greater then my exposure to murder as a NYCer For me this is an acceptable level of risk considering most my subjective exposure is attenuated by experience and the objective dangers are fairly limited.

This playfull interchange I hope would only encourage each individual to fully investigate all the particulars of their adventure and acceptable risk level

Michael
:)

Jonatha
12-25-2004, 01:35 PM
Giggy,

I went with RMI summer of 2003 and was very happy with them. I spent as much time that summer in the Whites with a 40 to 50 lb pack - it was part of my job for a summer camp. You cannot overtrain - I got to Muir and thought, sweet, that was good! But high winds and perhaps altitude was a kick in the pants that night/next day. I suppose a Presi traverse or Bond traverse would give you a taste of your summit/decent (up 4500 from Muir and down 9000 the same day to Paradise).

You will get a million opinions or guided vs not. I have no crevasse rescue skills nor avalanche training yet, so I decided to be guided. But they just guided, they didn't carry me!

Michael M
12-25-2004, 01:36 PM
Kevin


It's my understanding the snow rangers (and RMI guides) maintain the wands from Paradise to Camp Muir year-round, regardless of weather reports, since there have been many deaths over the years even on what can seem like a most benign route in good weather.

I have never seen a wand on the hike from paradise to camp Muir.
This is a un roped non-technical walk on a crevasse free snowfield.
Certainly in a white out and storm (both are different) in could be difficult for a novice to navigate. I also have never heard of anyone describing this as dangerous, people bring snow boards on this part.

I have also never heard of numerous deaths on this stretch.

Regarding weather, many mountaineers will concur that not considering the weather and continuing to ascend is what gets most in trouble. Serious weather excluding tornados (and even they are now predicted) donít just come out of nowhere (the climb is an 8 hr window).
Most epics are a result of pushing and hoping for the best.

It is difficult for me to rationally consider the trade routes on NW volcanoes as anything other than less dangerous then winter hiking/camping in whites or daks which I consider pretty darn safe!

Of course I do live in the city!
:D :D

Michael CM

Michael M
12-26-2004, 12:13 AM
Kevin

I get into a car and I buckle my seatbelt, thousands of pounds of steel hurtling ahead at 70 miles per hour only inches away from sudden death. A mere forty-eight inches separating the oncoming traffic. Each day people die crossing this double line how can I drive, how can I survive?

I can't romanticize my driving, my wife would laugh.

Some care is needed here as in most places in our life.

The bottom line is that we both agree that there are real hazards in the mountains and you better buckle up and not be stupid. The question of this thread (perspective) is if the risks are more significant then a winter on Washington. The stats speak for themselves and everyone -- as you point out can google this.

My experience is personal and has never been with a guide in place of my own judgment. My experience of these mountains is over the span of 35 years and has enabled me to compare the whites in winter to Rainier in summer. I think I can encourage our thread starter (giggy) as he is probably far better equipped then most of the 10,000 suitors for the Rainier summit.

If he is not better equipped -- it is his game and I will neither encourage him to not be awake nor will I discourage or frighten him with tall tales of great danger in the mountains.

Honestly if you truly feel in peril hiking to Camp Muir turn around you donít belong there. Most of the 10,000 basically beginners who attempt this mountain would be in greater peril climbing Mt Washington in winter ---

and that is the thrust of this thread.

May we all have a safe and happy holiday for friends, family and loto kids

Michael CM

AlpenPro
01-04-2005, 07:00 PM
I highly recommend the Emmons glacier. It is fairly heavily used but nothing like the total circus of the Camp Muir side.

Get your permits and pack up at White River and hike a couple hours to Glacier Basin campground. Its the last in the trees and very quiet and nice. This way you are ready to get to Leave for Camp Shurman early without having to wait for the ranger station to open for permits. (Consider leaving a nights food here on the pole for the way down also.)

From there Camp Shurman or Emmons flats are a reasonable day, getting there early enough to allow time for melting water and getting some early sleep.

Leave the high camps about 12-1am, hopefully summit, and return by about noon or so. Sleep the afternoon and late in the day go back down to Glacier Basin. Its not much further to hike out and people seem to be in a hurry to go home, or somewhere. I'd discourage that - driving after this climb is far more dangerous than the clmb itself. Get a good nights sleep in Glacier Basin.

The guide permit issue was being revisited once again. For years RMI had a monopoly. They wanted to appear to have ended this so a few companies were alloted a few trips per season up the Emmons. Within a year or two the going rate went from 550 to over 900. This is more than you would pay a European certified guide on the matterhorn for a group of 2-3 (which they would consider a maximum). Because they are politically protected the guide services on Rainier consist largely of uncertified and uncredentialed guides - some are very good and some are downright scary. The preferred alternative on the latest round was to allow AMGA certified guides to obtain "incidental use" permits which would allow them to guide independently. Most feedback seemed to favor this, with the exception of some of the currently protected services. If this has come to pass I would recommend using an exam-certified guide if you can (assuming you do use a guide at all). It's not likely to cost you any more.

The weather is pretty stable in July and August, and usually much of Sept. If there are storms they usually blow through in a day or so and allowing an extra day in your schedule gives you flexibility. If there is a day that is forecast not to be so good and you can avoid it do so - you do not want to be up there in poor visibility and if there are winds your chances of summiting are very low. Even in a light wind be prepared for winter temperatures when you get an alpine start from 10,000 ft heading upwards. But as long as the forecast is good you probably won't find anything harsher than you can find in the Adirondacks in fall, spring, or especially winter.

strider
01-05-2005, 01:33 PM
Rainier's not too hard, but not all that easy, either. Basically, it's a very long snow slog at altitude. Make sure you are in top cardiovascular condition, and train to maximize your endurance. Read all the trip reports you can find on the web. You'll no doubt dig up a few valuable nuggets of information from these. Dee Molenaars' book, "The Challenge of Rainier", is a very good reference and details most of the climbing history of the mountain.

Don't stay at the public huts (Muir or Shermann). You won't sleep a wink with twenty other people cooking, snoring, and rolling into you all night. Use a good, 4-season tent and anchor it with deadmen. Be sure to probe your camp area for hidden slots before setting up, and don't leave this "safe area" without roping up. Despite what someone else wrote, there are ALWAYS hidden crevasses. It all depends on how much snow is covering them. Sometimes it's ten feet, and sometimes it's ten inches.

Weather will be similar to Mt. Washington on a warm, early spring day. Hot at the bottom, cold and windy up top. Cascade weather can be fickle, and sudden whiteouts are not uncommon, so know how to navigate in zero visibility (compass, gps, altimeter, wands).

Don't carry any more than you need. If your pack weighs more than 55lbs, you're carrying too much, imho, even with all the climbing equipment.

Learn how to set snow anchors and practice crevasse rescue and the standard knots (figure eight, butterfly, Muenter's hitch, etc.). Learn how to set up a snow belay. You probably won't need this, but it's good to know in case you do. "Freedom of the Hills" is a good reference.

You can filter the melted snow rather than boiling it, but be aware the filter will clog easily with the volcanic ash in the snow. Use a ceramic filter.

I wouldn't recommend following the RMI team. They're slow, generally inexperienced, and have a bad habit of kicking snow/rock onto climbers below them on the DC.

Learn how to visually discern and probe for crevasses.

If you start to feel sick or dizzy, let the team leader know at once. A guy in our group collapsed in the crater. Found out later he was dizzy nauseas all the way up. Turned out ok, but could have been a very bad situation.

You shouldn't have any trouble on Hood, if you take the standard South-Side route. Gets a little steep above the bergschrund, but not too bad.

Ken

AlpenPro
01-06-2005, 09:40 PM
...

Don't stay at the public huts (Muir or Shermann). You won't sleep a wink with twenty other people cooking, snoring, and rolling into you all night. Use a good, 4-season tent and anchor it with deadmen. Be sure to probe your camp area for hidden slots before setting up, and don't leave this "safe area" without roping up. Despite what someone else wrote, there are ALWAYS hidden crevasses. It all depends on how much snow is covering them. Sometimes it's ten feet, and sometimes it's ten inches.


I'd agree with this. I used the public hut at Muir once on my first climb ever of the mountain. No sleep at all. On the Emmons route the Shurman hut is not public anyway, its used by the rangers. You can camp nearby or continue to Emmons Flats which is only a few more minutes.

On another trip in September or early October we had the Muir hut to ourselves. It may also have been a weekday. The season generally lasts until sometime in very October but traffic slows down a lot in September.


...
Don't carry any more than you need. If your pack weighs more than 55lbs, you're carrying too much, imho, even with all the climbing equipment.


This will vary with how many are in the group and the time of year. Be sure to be fully prepared for anything realistically possible given the weather forecast. But don't take anything extra either. One of the challenges of Rainier is that it is a multi-day high altitude endeavor and requires overnight equipment, climbing gear, and safety equipment.


...
Learn how to set snow anchors and practice crevasse rescue and the standard knots (figure eight, butterfly, Muenter's hitch, etc.). Learn how to set up a snow belay. You probably won't need this, but it's good to know in case you do. "Freedom of the Hills" is a good reference.

...

Learn how to visually discern and probe for crevasses.

If you start to feel sick or dizzy, let the team leader know at once. A guy in our group collapsed in the crater. Found out later he was dizzy nauseas all the way up. Turned out ok, but could have been a very bad situation.

You shouldn't have any trouble on Hood, if you take the standard South-Side route. Gets a little steep above the bergschrund, but not too bad.

Ken

A decent class on glacier travel and crevasse rescue is adequate for climbing the standard routes on your own. But its best to have at least three people, many climbers underestimate whats involved in a party of two when one has to rescue the other single-handedly.

Reactions to the altitude are one of the common reasons not to make it, along with fatigue and weather. Don't push yourself too far - remember its also a long trek back down and even though downhill is easier it can get miserable if you have pushed too hard. And continuing despite feeling sick from the altitude can be dangerous.

Its easy to get hung up on all the potential problems, but its a pretty safe climb as climbing goes. Its good to be aware of possible problems but the number of people who are rescued, let alone die, on the common routes is very low considering the number of climbers. However, the success rate is probably about 60% or so. Guided or not.

Hood is much easier than Rainier and can be done in one trip from the parking lot. But in most years it goes out of condition by early to mid July. This depends on the snowpack. The snow and ice are the only things holding the "rocks" in place on these volcanoes and once it's gone the rockfall danger goes way up. On Hood the standard route has significant rockfall exposure later in the season. On Rainier the Emmons has very little and D.C. has some below and on the cleaver. The Emmons sometimes becomes impassible around mid-August when the crevasse openings make it too lengthy but in one recent year at least it remained climbable all summer and met the DC route up high.

You can get helpful information which is current just before your climb from the clmbing ranger. Most are pretty good and pretty helpful, especially on the Emmons.

strider
01-07-2005, 12:38 PM
A decent class on glacier travel and crevasse rescue is adequate for climbing the standard routes on your own. But its best to have at least three people, many climbers underestimate whats involved in a party of two when one has to rescue the other single-handedly.

I couldn't agree more. Although I've practiced it many times, I'm still not convinced a single climbler could effectively rescue another from a crevasse (by which I mean anchoring the rope, setting up a pulley system and hauling them up). Even with the 3:1 advantage of a Z-pulley set-up, it would be nearly impossible due to the friction of the rope against the snow and lip of the crevasse.

In a 2-man setup, it's usually up to the person in the slot to climb out by prussiking up the rope. If they are injured or otherwise unable to do so, you have a really bad situation on your hands. And even if they are able to self-rescue, you'll probably end up laying in the snow in the arrest position for an hour or so.

Dennis C.
01-13-2005, 04:34 PM
First Posted on 09 April 2004 (Dennis C.) :

A friend and I did Rainier in mid July, 2003 on our own. We met and joined up with two other (two person) parties at Rainier on separate ropes. Meeting people is easy at Muir. In season, it's a constant parade of climbers, up and down. RMI is great for learning the ropes, but if going at your own pace is more important, then I'd suggest you find climbers you know that you'd be compatible with. If you have problems with the altitude, for example, and need time to stop and catch your breath (too often), you may find yourself "bagged and tagged" (left in a staked sleeping bag along the way) until the party returns from the summit. And even the RMI designated "summit" (just reaching the rim) has been under question from time to time, especially if you want the highest point, Columbia Crest, as your goal. These are just a couple more tidbits to add to some fine information offered here.

BrentD22
01-14-2005, 01:49 AM
I hiked at high alltitude (10/11,000ft) and I've mountain biked at those elevations. I was in Glenwood Springs, CO and near by. The most amazing thing about the elevation while hiking was how much you really felt it. Not oh wow I'm out of breath, I mean you actually felt like breathing felt different. While mountain biking I had the sensation (not sure if it was real) that I was traveling at faster speads downhill than I would have normally. I thought that it was from the thinner air. I was solo on all the occasions and it's the only time I felt nervous about being solo while in the backcountry.

Good luck and please post a trip report when you return safely!