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Rainier light?
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Greg Lewis
(gpl916) - F

Locale: PNW
Rainier light? on 01/24/2010 23:13:41 MST Print View

I plan on climbing Rainier around the first of June. I have experienced guides to go with but no one in the UL community. I want to use my lightweight wool base layer, a thermawrap top and bottom, and then a windshirt and something like precip or Reed pants on top. Maybe stuff a rain coat in the pack. It sounds like temps down to about 20F? Does this sound like enough of a safety margin if the weather deteriorates?


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
no margin on 01/24/2010 23:32:29 MST Print View

No. Not enough margin at all.

It is quite common for Everest climbers to go do their pre-Everest training on Rainier.

Rainier can have some really awful weather. It's not that hard to clothe yourself for +20 F, but now figure on +20 or +10 and a 50 knot wind.

I have a 7000-meter parka, and I think I would take that if I were going back to Rainier.

Andrew Wilson
(andreww) - MLife

Locale: Vosges
See Denali Light article on 01/25/2010 00:24:01 MST Print View

See the Denali light article, recently published, to get an idea about adequate clothing. Rainier is nowhere near as cold as Denali (though a storm can make it very dangerous). Some lofty layers should be on hand for this kind of climb, as a bouviac is always a possibility.

Greg Lewis
(gpl916) - F

Locale: PNW
Thanks on 01/25/2010 08:33:00 MST Print View

Thanks for the replies.

I had doubts about the safety margin. I will look up the Denali light article.


Andrew Wilson
(andreww) - MLife

Locale: Vosges
Yarl, safety ladder. on 01/25/2010 11:54:38 MST Print View

Then again, I know a retired kindergarten teacher from Parkland named Yarl who would summit solo tied to an 8' ladder on his back for crevasse protection, then ski down. Clearly not for the uninitiated.

Elena Lee
(lenchik101) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
you can do it light carefully on 01/27/2010 12:36:58 MST Print View

it really depends on the 1. weather 2. your route 3. your skill level. Check out these excellent weather conditions resources:

I went there two times (without a guide) last year, once in July and once in September. July was much colder weather, with strong winds. My partner made it to the top wearing only heavy fleece as his insulation, bus said it was chilly on top. September was very warm, actually too warm.

My clothing was:


Icebreaker lightweight base layer
Light fleece/or MH Powerstretch Zip Top
Montbell UL Down Inner Parka
GoLite Phantom (goretex paclite jacket)

Patagonia Capeline 1 tights
Mammut Nimba softshells (they have microfleece liner)

I had an extra fleece in my pack, which i never used. I only put on my parka when i stopped to rest.

I also had a neck gaitor, a fleece hat, googles (!!), and RBH mitts and lightweight powerstretch gloves. On my feet, i had stiff Scarpa boots, not exactly mountaineering boots but very similar, and much less expensive.

The fact is , if you know the weather is stable and are not trying to "fit in" the climb into your schedule, summer Rainier climbing can be done pretty light. Denali list is an overkill, as it assumes minus 20 degree temps. Plus if you are going the DC route, which you are i 'm assuming, and during a weekend, it's like a trekking highway. Most of the people i met over on DC could be technically considered as trekkers, but came prepared as they were climbing an 8,000 meter peak.

Regrets? i am considering getting a loftier down jacket, perhaps something with at least 5 ounces of fill weight. June 1st is still very cold month for Rainier, and one that could present with an unexpected weather. You may want to get a good down layer. Positives: less open crevasses, more direct route, and less people.

On my second attempt, i saw this guy doing a triple record from Paradise parking to the summit via the DC route, in his trekking shoes, wearing a day camelback, very thin layers, and a pair of trekking poles. Of course the weather was excellent, and this dude was at some point a denali speed ascent record setter.

Elena Lee
(lenchik101) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
gear list on 01/27/2010 12:42:17 MST Print View

I can also send you my entire gear list for this climb if you'd like.

Eric Krumland
(Eric_K) - F

Locale: The northwest is the BEST
gear list for rainier on 01/27/2010 13:38:19 MST Print View

I would like to see your list if you dont mind

Greg Lewis
(gpl916) - F

Locale: PNW
Thanks for he replies on 01/27/2010 16:20:26 MST Print View

Thanks for the help! Elena, I would like to see your gear list.

I am planning to pick up a Montbell Alpine light for my down layer. I think that the thermawraps, wool, and precip will be enough for the bottom- I will throw in a fleece layer too.



Elena Lee
(lenchik101) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
rainier climb list on 01/27/2010 20:57:05 MST Print View

Here is the list, sorry for the mess, i cut and pasted it from my Excel sheet.

Backpack: GoLite Pinnacle 23.0
Pack Liner: Trash Compactor Bag (2) 0.5

Hard Shell Jacket: GoLite Phantom 12.0
Insulating Layer : Montbell Women's U.L. Down Inner Parka (S) 6.8
Midlayer 2: Lightweight Fleece (??) 5.0
Base Layer-Long-sleeve: Icebreaker Women's Bodyfit 150 LS Atlas Half Zip 5.2
Climbing Shoes: Scarpa (??) 20.0
Insulating Socks: RBH Designs VaprThrm Insulated Sock 2.5
Hat: Fleece Hat 1.5
Neck and Face: Neck Gator 1.0
Hands - Liner: Powerstretch Liner Glove 2.0
Hands - Insulation: RBH Designs Vapor Mitts (XS) 6.0

Tent-Body: Tarptent Double Rainbow (shared) 0.0
Tent-Poles: Pole 0.0
Tent-Stakes: Ti Stakes (6) 0.0

Sleeping Bag: Western Mountaineering Ultralite Short 28.0
Sleeping Pad - Inflatable: Therm-A-Rest W Prolite 16.0
Sleeping Pad - Closed Cell: Blue Foam from REI cut torso size 4.0
Pillow: BPL inflatable 1.0

Stove: Snow Peak GigaPower 3.8
Pot: Evernew, 1.2 liter 6.0
Cup: Plastic Cup 0.3
Utensil: Lexan Spork 0.3
Cleaning: Mini spounge 0.1
Lighter Mini Bic: 0.3

Water Containers: Platypus 1 liter (2) 2.5
Water Treatment: Acqua Mira (repackaged in BPL containers) 1.0

Flashlight: Tikka XP w/ Lithium Batteries 2.5
Compass: Brunton 26DNL-CL 1.5
Knife/Multitool: Gerber Paraframe Mini Steel 1.0
Maps 1.0
First Aid Kit 2.0

Toothbrush/Toothpaste 0.5
Moisturizer/Sunblock SPF 70 1.5
Foot Treatment: Hydropel, repackaged 0.3
Lip Balm: SPF Lip Balm 0.3
Soap: Bronner, repackaged 0.5

Stuff Sacks: Granite Gear Air Bags (3) 2.0
Goggles: Ski Goggles 2.0
Camera: Nikon Coolpix S200 4.0

Harness: Mammut Alpine Light 7.0
Ice Axe: Black Diamond Raven Ultra 12.0
Crampons: Stubai Ultralight Universal 21.0
Helmet - 10.0
Anchors: Snow Picket (1) 12.0
Carabiners-Non Locking: Camp USA Nano (4) 3.5
Carabiners-Locking: Carabiner (2) 3.0
Ascender: Petzl Tibloc (1) 1.0
Other: Mammut Dyneema Slings, Prussiks 2.0

TOTAL PACKED (oz) Ounces 242.7
TOTAL PACKED (pnds) Pounds 15.2

Top: Icebreaker 150 Print T Shirt 3.8
Midlayer Top: Mountain Hardware PowerStretch Zip T (XS) 6.0
Bottom Base Layer: Patagonia Capeline 1 Bottoms 5.0
Bottom Shell: Mammut Nimba 18.0
Socks: SmartWool Light Hiker 1.5
Sock Liner: REI Coolmax Liner Socks 0.3
Approach Shoes: Montbell Vitesse 11.0
Gaiters Rab Hispar 9.0
Sun Hat Golite Baseball Hat 2.0
Eye Protection: Glacier Glasses - Rented 0.5

HIKING POLES: REI Peak UL Trekking Poles 13.0

Pounds 3.8

A couple of comments:

1) shelter - the first time i used someone else's tent (it flapped all night and zero sleep), the second time we intended to stay in huts and we brought my Tarptent for Camp Muir just in case, we ended up staying in shelters (had abt 3 hrs of sleep with ear plugs)

2) i didn't use gaitors the second time - the snow was very packed, but as an afterthought it was a bad idea since you can still trip over your pants if not careful.

3) the rope was carried by partner and it was something like an 8.2 mm dry rope

here are some pics from our Sept climb:


getting over some crevasses en routecrevasses

Greg Lewis
(gpl916) - F

Locale: PNW
Rainier gear on 01/27/2010 21:09:45 MST Print View

Thanks Elena,

Your gear list looks alot like mine probably will. Can't forget those earplugs!

Nice pix too.


Greg Lewis
(gpl916) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: rainier climb list on 02/19/2010 21:39:45 MST Print View

Hi Elena,
I was looking over your gear list for Rinier again and have a question about your stove. Did the Giga power work well at Muir? I have looked through the articles and posts on stoves but can't find much in the way of use at altitude. I know how the cold effects them but am not clear on altitude..

Did you keep the canisters in your coat or sleeping bag? Were you able to light it with piezo or did you use a Bic? How about a windscreen?

I don't want to have to buy another stove this year so I am hoping yours worked well.



Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
reply to Greg on 02/19/2010 21:59:55 MST Print View

Butane-blend stoves get less efficient with cold, but they get more efficient with higher elevation. Unfortunately, Camp Muir is not high enough to get that much positive effect from elevation. At least at Camp Muir you will have some weather protection, so it should not be a big problem.


/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Rainier light? on 02/19/2010 22:36:41 MST Print View

@Greg -

What is your itinerary and what route are you taking?

The lightest way to climb Rainier is to do it in a day.

The first time I summited, I had a 6 oz. nylon stuff-sack pack with a water bottle, food bars, sleeping bag, large bivy/bothy/tarp, first aid, stove and pad. I wore all clothing and climbing gear. My shell was a Marmot DriClime windshirt and I had a fleece underneath which I aggressively vented most of the time. We took a 1 hour break to watch the stars and melt some water at about 11.500'

My two climbing mates took fanny packs. Including climbing gear, none of us had over ten pounds total.

We did the Fuhrer Finger, which is one of the most direct routes and climbed only at night so as to minimize rock-fall and have more stable snow.

This really can be a very safe way to climb because you move fast and are not exposed to danger for as long a period of time. We had sufficient gear and fuel for an emergency bivy to last a few days - though not in comfort.

I wasn't sophisticated enough to have gear lists back then, but be sure to have plenty of sunscreen and a spare pair of sunglasses can be good insurance.

I have never had problems with canister stoves at Camp Muir - it usually doesn't get all that cold there in the Summer time. Even in winter, it often gets colder in the middle of Ohio than on the summit of Mt. Rainier. It's the wind and occasional driving slush storms that chill the bones :).

Greg Lewis
(gpl916) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: reply to Greg on 02/19/2010 22:41:35 MST Print View


Thanks for the insight. I had read that they got more efficient but I thought that this diminished above a certain altitude.


/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: rainier climb list on 02/19/2010 22:44:17 MST Print View

@Elena -

Thanks for sharing your gear list and photos! I think your gear was rather appropriate and not an over-burdensome weight for the volcano. It should help aid others in planning a UL Rainier trip.

How did your sleep system hold up for you and do you usually sleep cold/reg/warm? I have always used the opposite pad configuration on snow (short inflatable w/ long closed cell), but your system sounds good and the weight was within target.

Greg Lewis
(gpl916) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Rainier light? on 02/19/2010 22:49:47 MST Print View


We are going to take the 3 day approach. First day to Muir, then to Ingram flats, then summit and down. I am going with a large group and most have not done much climbing (me included) so we felt that this would be best.

One day sounds tough. We will be climbing at midnight on the Summit day, as I am sure everyone else will too.

I will post a gear list in the near future.


Edited by gpl916 on 02/19/2010 22:50:31 MST.

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Re: Re: Rainier light? on 02/19/2010 23:13:28 MST Print View

Excellent - I'm sure you will enjoy spending 3 days up there - it is a beautiful place to be! I have done a couple of 2-day trips, skipping Muir, or using other camps on other routes and I've always enjoyed just spending the night on the mountain and seeing the stars and storms. The flats are a symphony for the senses when the thunderstorms roll up the valley and the rockfall crashes around you.

For what it's worth (in the future perhaps), I actually find it easier to do it in a day (that trip mentioned above was my first time), but it is enjoyable to take your time and with a lighter pack, you have a preferable approach and will find yourself more refreshed than your peers, enabling you to soak in the experience more comfortably.

Take video whenever you stop to rest up there (especially on the way up to the summit) - you and your mates will be thankful for that later.

Douglas Ray

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Ranier Clothing on 02/20/2010 18:57:56 MST Print View

I got a bit surprised by cold on Ranier once, and the problem was that my rope-team couldn't move fast enough for me to generate any heat to speak of. I ended up climbing with my parka on for the last little bit, because we had to move so slowly.

So do take into consideration that the other's you climb with might mess-up your thermoregulation, and pack accordingly.

Greg Lewis
(gpl916) - F

Locale: PNW
reply to Aaaron and Doug on 02/20/2010 21:57:41 MST Print View


I am really looking forward to spending the 3 days up there. I can imagine that under the right conditions it would be a grand stage with the sights and sounds that you mentioned.

Good point, I hadn't considered that.