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Am I ready for Rainier?
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Eric Krumland
(Eric_K) - F

Locale: The northwest is the BEST
Am I ready for Rainier? on 03/29/2010 14:11:57 MDT Print View

I think I am ready to climb Rainier this summer via the Emmons glacier or DC route. The other people I am thinking of doing the climb with do not have any real climbing experience and I have not ever done a serious climb like before. I do have a lot of experience rock climbing and I have a LOT of winter hiking and some glacier travel up here in Anchorage. I have read and practiced everything I can about general mountaineering from self arrests to building anchors to craves rescue. Do you think I have enough experience to take some of my friends up Rainier. Thanks for any honest answers.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Re: Am I ready for Rainier? on 03/29/2010 15:16:53 MDT Print View

I'd say you don't have enough experience to take inexperienced people up Rainier. What happens if you (Eric) were injured or fell into a crevasse? It sounds like you have enough experience to join a group of more experienced climbers. There are good courses taught on the mountain (RMI is I think the one I took). There are probably mountaineering clubs in AK and WA that teach courses cheap.

There are people here with a lot more experience than me, but my answer will at least bump the thread.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Am I ready for Rainier? on 03/29/2010 18:09:17 MDT Print View

"I'd say you don't have enough experience to take inexperienced people up Rainier. What happens if you (Eric) were injured or fell into a crevasse?"


For serious glacier travel, everyone has to know crevasse rescue techniques and be skilled at self arrest. While highly experienced Himalayan climbers sometimes travel 2 to a rope, the general rule of thumb is a minimum of 3 to a rope since it takes a minimum of 2 people to reliably execute a crevasse rescue, and 3 is even better. Even if you know what you're doing, it isn't easy to extract someone from a crevasse, especially if they are injured.

I'd think twice about this trip if I were you, Eric, based on your post.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Am I ready for Rainier? on 03/29/2010 19:05:46 MDT Print View

Probably not. If you have to ask if you are ready, then no.

Douglas Ray

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Am I ready for Rainier? on 03/30/2010 00:35:44 MDT Print View

It sounds like you don't have enough experience to take less-experienced people up Ranier. It does sound like you have enough experience to climb Ranier with a group of others with similar abilities. Save the guiding newbies until you are way beyond asking this question.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
On climbing on 03/30/2010 01:16:08 MDT Print View

Here is a link to some of the search and rescue incidents at Mt. Rainier. An informative read. I profess to be but a hiker/backpacker. I live near Mt. Rainier, visit it often, but have no experience climbing the mountain.


John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
Re: Am I ready for Rainier? on 03/30/2010 08:51:53 MDT Print View

You sound like you're ready if you were to go with a more experienced crowd, but probably not as the leader for what sounds like a group of novices with very limited experience.

Maybe spend one year working with your group of friends on routes around home and plan for the summer of 2011?

Eric Krumland
(Eric_K) - F

Locale: The northwest is the BEST
Just what i was thinking on 03/30/2010 11:43:04 MDT Print View

When my two friends found out i would be coming back to washington they asked me to take them up and that is what prompted the question. I agree with your answers. But now I am wondering if there is anyone who would want to let me tag along with them if they are ever going to head up the mountain or any others. If so let me know, and thanks to everyone for all the great insight.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Just what i was thinking on 03/30/2010 11:51:11 MDT Print View

The conventional wisdom is to sign up for a climb with Rainier Mountaineering.

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Just what i was thinking on 03/30/2010 11:57:38 MDT Print View

It is best to go with 2 or 3 other experienced mountaineers, but if your skills are up to it, don't rule out going solo...but don't fall or die if you do. I don't know what your experience level is, but at least climb the mountain a couple of times first before taking others up.

I have led a couple of groups to successfully summit, but only after doing it myself first and I also had a background in climbing guiding elsewhere. Backcountry leadership skills are different than technical skills and both are required for a safe endeavor when guiding a group. You are taking on a huge amount of responsibility and it can be very rewarding but very dangerous. Thanks for asking before committing! I may be able to go with you, depending on when you plan to go. Feel free to pm or email me at: (my bpl username)(at)

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
instructional book on 03/30/2010 12:10:20 MDT Print View

A helpful book!

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
climbing Rainier on 03/30/2010 13:41:56 MDT Print View

Last time I was on Rainier, it was illegal to climb solo.
When a ranger caught wind a kid was going to try under cover
of darkness, he offered to take the kid up himself. They
tagged along with our group so they could have access to more people and gear.
We helped belay each other across snow bridges.

I would take your friends up something more, well, friendly,
first. Practice crevasse rescue and team self arrest,
route finding, traveling in teams, wanding and navigation.
Simple things like getting your crampons on right when it
is dark and sub-freezing can really speed up your group and
increase your safety and chance of success.
Maybe Adams?

A smaller climb just before attempting Rainier is also
a good warm up where you can develop some altitude

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: climbing Rainier on 03/30/2010 14:10:01 MDT Print View

+1 on Mt. Adams - the South Spur route.

Good call David!

Especially don't miss this one if you are competent on skis/board and are willing to shoulder the extra weight. Who can say no to 30 degrees of 8000 vertical feet in a single run with wide open south facing slopes?

Perhaps take an extra day and camp up on the mountain to get a little more of a feel for being on Rainier.

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: climbing Rainier on 03/30/2010 14:12:38 MDT Print View

From Mt. Rainier's website regarding Solo climbing:

"Solo travel above high camps or anywhere on glaciers is not permitted except with prior written permission from the Superintendent. You may download a Solo Climb Request Form (Word document, 83 KB) or you may request this form by writing: Superintendent, Mount Rainier National Park, 55210 238th Avenue East, Ashford, WA 98304.

Anyone younger than 18 years of age must have the permission of a parent or legal guardian before climbing above normal high camps."

I suspect the individual you ran into did not apply in advance.

Elena Lee
(lenchik101) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
2010 rainier climb on 04/08/2010 16:52:27 MDT Print View

we will be going up there next summer..shoot me a personal message with your email address.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Avalanche on Mt. Rainier on 06/06/2010 23:47:09 MDT Print View

There was an avalanche on Mt. Rainier Saturday, leaving one missing climber presumably dead. It buried 10 others, all of whom were rescued.

Many people climb Mt. Rainier every year without incident, and the route taken by the parties hit by this slide is attempted annually by about five percent of all climbers.


Elena Lee
(lenchik101) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
Ingraham Glacier Route on 06/08/2010 13:21:56 MDT Print View

"Many people climb Mt. Rainier every year without incident, and the route taken by the parties hit by this slide is attempted annually by about five percent of all climbers."

i'm not going to challenge the accuracy of the above statistics, but wanted to offer some context to the point made above. Ingraham glacier is one of the mainstream routes to the summit. A group of my friends who i regularly climb with just returned from Mt. Rainier and summited via the same route three weeks ago. All the guided parties who started from Camp Muir went up the Ingraham Glacier route as well. it is the preferred route before the snow melts and exposes the crevasses, at which point navigation is difficult and DC becomes the most preferred "easy" route. The problem with emphasizing the 5% statistic above is that most guided and tourist oriented trips happen in the summer, via DC. Otherwise, it is a very normal route during the early season, and is considered pretty basic. The point i'm trying to make that this could happen to any party, experienced, guided, independent and what not. If it's not an avalanche, it could be a serac crashing down you, rockfall, crevasse fall... These same real risks are present and they affect anyone venturing out in high altitude regardless of route, season or ability. Something to be aware and accepting of if you choose to pursue this activity.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Am I ready for Rainier? on 06/08/2010 13:51:38 MDT Print View

The avalanche danger was very high last weekend and will continue to be high through next weekend on the Cascade volcanos due to significant amounts of unstable new snow up high coupled with warm conditions. One person called these conditions, "Death by Slurpee."

The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center normally closes down April 1, but this year they are still issuing warnings of significant avalanche danger--the latest was yesterday for this week and the coming weekend. It is an unusual year!

I suspect that these parties may not have checked the avalanche forecast--most years it isn't necessary this late in the season.

Edited by hikinggranny on 06/08/2010 14:01:51 MDT.

(onthecouchagain) - MLife

Locale: Sunny SoCal
hmmmm on 06/11/2010 22:31:36 MDT Print View

That sounds like an accident or problem waiting to happen...not so much for you but for members of your party. When you are roped up, you've got to trust and rely on your other rope team members to arrest you in a fall, NOT fall themselves or cause the team harm. You may get frustrated teaching basic skills, knots and doing all the work. That mountain is no joke and has many lives claimed to prove it.

Maybe Mt. Baker or Mt. Shuksan in the North Cascades for a trial run and to build confidence. Just a thought...I used to teach SCUBA for years and diving with people less skilled exposes you to much more risk.

In any case, you sound reasonable and qualified to make good decisions- always a BIG plus on any mountain. Good luck to you.