Forum Index » Mountaineering & Alpinism » Layering advice for Rainier


Display Avatars Sort By:
zorobabel frankenstein
(zorobabel) - F

Locale: SoCal
Layering advice for Rainier on 05/19/2014 10:47:38 MDT Print View

I will be trying to summit Rainier in the middle of June, and I'm trying to finish up my gear list. I'm asking for advice on layering.

For the upper body I'll bring:
-baselayer midweigth size S
-fleece 100wt size S
-windshirt hooded New Balance W size M - (fit is on the short side as with most women's garments). This is quite breathable and doesn't do much in rain. The hood is small, zips up to bellow the chin and will go under the helmet.
-down parka OR Maestro size S
I'm pretty sure a hardshell will be needed, which brings us to the first question: would you want the hardshell to layer under or over the down parka?
I already have these shells:
-SD Microlight W size M - doesn't fit over the Maestro
-SD Microlight size L
These 2 are PU coated polyester, don't breathe, promote condensation and are not seam sealed. The hoods zips up to about chin level.
-Wild Roses 8000m parka W size L
-Mammut Extreme size L - this one is really big on me
These 2 are old (~11 years) Gore-Tex XCR harshells, burly and heavy. They have pit zips, velcro cuffs, hoods that zip up (or velcro) to nose level and would offer the most wind protection.
These and the SD size L fit over the Maestro with room to spare.

For the lower body I'll wear:
-softshell pants OR Supercharger size S - nice and slim cut
I'm thinking I'll need another layer for the pants, but not sure what to choose from these:
-baselayer tights
-M65 army pant liners. I have 2 pairs: an equivalent to small but they are short and I'd have to take the boots off to put them on; an equivalent to medium, acceptable length and have buttons on the sides, so no need to take boots off, but heavier than the other pair (400g vs 250g).
-hardshell pants Mammut Extreme size M - these are Gore-Tex, old, heavy and really burly. They have strong reinforcements on the behind, knees and insides of the lower legs. They also have suspenders, side zips and side velcro, snow cuffs.

Sorry for the long post, thanks for reading!

Edited by zorobabel on 05/19/2014 11:22:27 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Layering advice for Rainier on 05/19/2014 11:04:50 MDT Print View

If you are going with a guide service, you might check with them. Regardless of any UL concepts, they may have strict requirements to keep the newbies alive.

Pierre Descoteaux
(Pierre) - MLife
Re: Layering advice for Rainier on 05/19/2014 11:12:40 MDT Print View

I would not use a hard shell. A hooded windproof and water resistant shell would be in my pack. If it gets cold enough to use the down parka, put it on top of what you already have. This saves time, hassle, and lowers the chances of losing clothing in nasty weather. It also protects the down from the humidity you create vbl style.
My 2 cents.
Pierre

zorobabel frankenstein
(zorobabel) - F

Locale: SoCal
initial post on 05/19/2014 11:45:32 MDT Print View

Thanks for the replies!
I wasn't done with the first post when I submitted it by mistake, sorry about that.

@Dale - I won't be using a guide. I'm not a newbie or an experienced mountaineer, but haven't been up on Rainier and don't want to overpack.

@Pierre - I agree with you and I've been moving in this direction (down parka on top). I am worried about tearing up the down parka on the ice if I need to wear it.

Another option would be to buy a slim size S WPB hardshell parka and ditch the windshirt; I'm not too keen on spending $$$ though. I haven't tried too many windshirts, but from what I've seen they have minimal hoods; I'd really like something with a full coverage hood for the wind.

Edited by zorobabel on 05/19/2014 11:50:33 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: initial post on 05/19/2014 12:10:23 MDT Print View

"@Dale - I won't be using a guide. I'm not a newbie or an experienced mountaineer, but haven't been up on Rainier and don't want to overpack."

Not that you are a newbie, but that guide services can have requirements to insure that inexperienced climbers don't show up in cotton sweatshirts.

Rainier is a 14,000 rock sticking right up into the main weather path off the Pacific. I would show up prepared for anything from blazing sun on ice to a blizzard. The weather in the PNW is highly influenced by Jet Stream shifts and variability is the thing.

The forums at http://cascadeclimbers.com will take you to the folk who play there.

For the guide services checklists, try

http://www.mountainguides.com/rainier-gear.shtml or
http://www.rmiguides.com/mt-rainier/4-day-summit-climb/

whitenoise .
(whitenoise) - F
Layers on 05/19/2014 12:33:22 MDT Print View

For my recent couple Rainier summits this is all I bring:

- Climbing pants/softshell pants (worn all the time)
- Base layer top (worn all the time)
- Fleece hoody or synthetic vest (mid-layer that's rarely worn)
- Softshell/windshirt top (worn almost all the time unless it's hot on the lower glacier/snowfield)
- Puffy layer with ~8oz down (worn at rest/camp/belay/summit)

That's it. If you run cold, you might want to add long johns and another mid-layer (fleece or something).

I personally don't bring hard shell jacket and pants. When I have, I never take them out of my pack. If the weather is going to be crappy I don't climb Rainier -- it's not a mountain to head up with any kind of weather even in mid summer. If your softshell layer is good you won't ever wish you had hardshell layers. I haven't carried them for at least 6 climbs and have never regretted the decision.

YMMV. Just be safe and know your comfort levels.

EDIT: Just noticed you mention putting your hardshell over your puffy layer. Nope. Puffy goes over everything and should be sized appropriately. Also, don't be concerned about the durability of your puffy layer. Chances are much greater of it getting damaged by your own gear/stupidity (ice axe, crampons, something poky in your pack) than by anything on the route.

Edited by whitenoise on 05/19/2014 13:07:28 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: damage on 05/19/2014 13:26:53 MDT Print View

" Chances are much greater of it getting damaged by your own gear/stupidity (ice axe, crampons, something poky in your pack) than by anything on the route."

I have a friend who took a misstep while wearing crampons and lanes one foot in the middle of his new self-inflating Therm-a-Rest. :(

zorobabel frankenstein
(zorobabel) - F

Locale: SoCal
top on 05/19/2014 16:38:03 MDT Print View

Thanks whitenoise for sharing your layering setup, and Dale for providing more info!

For the top, so far 66% recommend just a softshell or windshirt. Pierre and whitenoise - what exact piece of gear are you using here? I want to get an idea of what to shop for.

For the bottom, I'm strongly leaning towards leaving the hardshell and insulating pants at home. I'll be wearing the softshell pants and bring the baselayer tight and/or ... wait for it ... Dale's dancing world nylon pants, in case it gets really windy. You must be red with anger by now Dale, what do you think of this idea? I'd have to buy them first, not sure what size to get for a 30" waist.

whitenoise .
(whitenoise) - F
Re: top on 05/19/2014 17:56:02 MDT Print View

I use a OR Ferrosi softshell most of the time. I love it because it's fairly wind resistant, very breathable, pretty water resistant, and very durable. Best alpine softshell in my opinion for the weight and price. It's a tradeoff. You could find lighter, less durable, less breathable, less water resistant, etc, but I think the Ferrosi balances all of those out as best as you can.

Insulated pants -- I would never bring them on Rainier unless it was the middle of winter. Too warm to climb in, too much of a luxury for around camp when you can just climb in your sleeping bag if you're cold. It's a preference thing. If you're prone to getting cold, bring them. For most weight-conscious people, I'd imagine them regretting the extra lb. that could have been left at the trailhead.

If this is one of your first climbs, it doesn't hurt to carry too much so that you can figure out what works for you. Some of my climbing partners always bring hardshells no matter what. It's preference. Figuring out what you like/don't like and what you can do without is part of the fun!

Pierre Descoteaux
(Pierre) - MLife
Re: initial post on 05/19/2014 20:11:17 MDT Print View

For a hooded windproof and water resistant jacket I use a Jack Wolfskin Spiderwind (simply put, like a Patagonia Dragon fly.) True, the hood is simple but it does the job especially if I wear a Pata R1 hoody under. If it gets bad enough, I'll add the down parka (always with a hood). Since I ice climb in the Canadian Rockies, I usually wear the R1 and a Patagonia NorthWall and keep the Spiderwind as a back up. But on Rainier this would be too many layers so the NorthWall would stay home.

Tears: I sometimes end up seconding wearing a down parka while ice climbing in -25Cs and never managed to tear my down jacket but I have to admit, it is a concern. I'd be less of a concern with a synthetic... But a little extra thinking goes a long way to avoid issues.
Hope this helps
Pierre

Richard Fischel
(RICKO) - F
Re: Re: Layering advice for Rainier on 05/20/2014 19:59:13 MDT Print View

from the paradise parking lot to muir (if you are going to muir) i’d be in shorts, or tights with running shorts and a white long sleeve base layer top.

skin out from say muir to the summit i go with a white long sleeve synthetic base layer (the white color is more important when descending than ascending) followed by ½ zip power stretch or comparable r1 style hoodie. my outer-most layer for on-the-go is a wind shirt with a hood that can go under or over my helmet. depending on the “forecasted” weather i make a decision in the parking lot if i’m going to bring a hooded patagonia micro puff, wild things belay jacket or ff volant. i also have the option of packing a wild things event hard shell, but on my last couple of trips it stayed in the trunk of the car. a shell isn’t a substitute for a wind shirt, but i push my wind shirt into the range where many folks might take a hard shell. unless the forecast called for really inclement weather, in which case i might elect to go and drink beer in gig harbor at 7 seas brewery, i almost always take the wind shirt over the hard shell. the thing with a shell or wind shirt is that you need to be able to zip-up/batten down the hood so that you can limit exposure if the sh!t hit’s the fan and you have high winds and blowing snow. if you can’t crank the hood down (and even if you can) some sort of face mask or balaclava can be a life saver. also, with a hard shell that’s too big you can have a billowing issue and if your wind shirt is too short it won’t stay tucked into your climbing harness and it will leave a gap above your pants waist band.

for bottoms i wear under armor heat gear boxer briefs followed by running tights and rei acme (schoeller) soft shell pants. i also carry a pair a pair of or neoplume pants that are insulated with 60 gm primaloft to the knees and 30 gm below. they can zip on over everything without taking off my boots, which is a must. i always think of them as 1 pound of cheap insurance. looking at what you have, the tights as a base layer and then the soft shell pants you’d be good to go. no hard shell pants, but rain resistant wind pants are very useful.

what does your glove and hat system look like? do you know what you’re wearing on your feet? how many days do you plan to stay on the mountain?

you might want to check out the wild things sale that’s ongoing right now. while most of the men’s stuff has been picked clean, there’s most everything for women still available. they’ve got their hooded wind shirt and pants on sale for something like $35 and their totally bomber event shell for something like $160.

(edit) sorry - i looked again at the wild things wind shirt and they changed the style. it now has elastic instead of a draw string for the hood. this might shave some weight, but if you are going to be pushing the range of your wind shirt, i think it's important to have a hood you can sinch down.

good luck and have fun!

Edited by RICKO on 05/20/2014 20:13:19 MDT.

whitenoise .
(whitenoise) - F
Re: on 05/21/2014 00:39:06 MDT Print View

I like Richard's suggestions, with a comment/exception regarding shorts on the lower part of the mountain. My first glacier trip I got 2nd degree burns on my lower legs wearing shorts even after applying sunscreen. I'm pale, so pants only for me on most climbs, but if you're tan or want to wear sunscreen, go for it.

Edited by whitenoise on 05/21/2014 00:39:47 MDT.

kristen buckland
(buckie06) - F

Locale: Colorado
wild Gear on 05/21/2014 07:43:42 MDT Print View

Would that Wild Gear hooded windshirt be suffice for rain protection on Rainier?

Richard Fischel
(RICKO) - F
Re: wild Gear on 05/21/2014 14:33:19 MDT Print View

kristen, to preface my reply, i’m going to start out by saying i can’t answer your question in this situation.

on rainier or anywhere else for that matter, you are (should be) making conscious decisions on what gear you’re bringing and why. once you cross the threshold from a garment that's waterproof to one that's highly water resistant it all comes down to what compromises the wearer is willing to make. i know what works for me through a lot of trial end error (heavy on the error. if i was planning to be on rainier or anywhere and the forecast called for days consistent heavy rain (and i still elected to go), a wind shirt alone might not be the best idea depending on what my plans were. i know my comfort limits and the safe limits of my other equipment and how they all work together. i also know that i'd rather be damp from the outside in, than damp from the inside out. if i'm moving at any pace, i know that i'm going to be throwing off enough heat that my wind shirt is going to steam if there's any ongoing precipitation. in those conditions, very little moisture is going to make its way from the outside in. but what happens if i stop, cool-off and there's no good shelter available. i know that with my wind shirt, i still have a highly water resistant garment. i also know that throwing on a primaloft insulated jacket is going to keep me warm and help to dry out (to some degree) my inner layers even if the jacket is getting damp from the rain. short of falling into water, my primaloft jacket (with a good shell material) is unlikely to get so wet that it won't help to keep me dry and somewhat warm.

Edited by RICKO on 05/21/2014 14:48:47 MDT.

zorobabel frankenstein
(zorobabel) - F

Locale: SoCal
thanks on 05/21/2014 22:57:46 MDT Print View

Thanks for pointing out your setups!

@whitenoise - Thanks, I looked at the Ferrosi, but I don't like the hood, not enough coverage as my only shell. I might still get in the future, since you're so happy with it. I'm not bringing insulated pants, that's settled. Unfortunately I also hate sunscreen.

@Pierre - Thanks, that windshirt won't work for me. I already have a windshirt with a minimal hood and while it protects my neck and ears, my face takes a good beating in cold wind. The down parka will go over everything else; another thing that's settled, thanks!

@RICKO - Thanks for the reply and advice. I don't wear just shorts while hiking no matter how hot, but I've been thinking of giving them a try over tights. My lightly colored baselayer top is the loose (and cooler) type, but I have a darker compression baselayer (I think a close to the body baselayer would be better for this trip); do you prefer a loose or a tight baselayer for Rainier? I'm not carrying a spare.
My softshell pants are Schoeller as well.

For the head I'll bring either a liner balaclava and/or a fleece balaclava. I probably won't get to it, but I'm thinking of making some kind of white scarf to protect my face from sunburn, if it's not windy. I'm not sure about bringing a wide brim hat. I want to buy some Julbo glacier glasses but they all seem large framed, and also want a nose guard.

I haven't decided on gloves. I have a few cheap polyester liners, a few fleece gloves (these really like to get caught in carabiners or whatever), a pair of thick insulated gloves and a pair of REI insulated mitts (I don't like walking with an ice-axe with these). I'm thinking of buying some gloves with good tactile feel and minimal sewing at the fingertips, lightly insulated and windproof.

For the feet I'm thinking liner socks, thick merino socks, insulated mountainering boots, OR Crocodile gaiters (these go up to my knees). Hopefully I won't forget the insoles at home again :(. I have some REI down booties, but I won't bring them.

We'll be staying 2-3 days on Rainier, then we'll try to summit Adams (1-2 days) and hopefully Hood. I might have 3-6 days left for a solo backpacking trip, I have no idea where yet.

Thanks for pointing out the wild things sale; picked clean indeed.


Update!
I broke down and ordered a hardshell: EMS Helix - $90 right now. I'm giving Neoshell a try.

kristen buckland
(buckie06) - F

Locale: Colorado
Windshirt on 05/22/2014 19:53:42 MDT Print View

Richard,
thank you for the response. I've only hiked in dry Colorado so don't have any experience in the PNW. So I've really been debating the windshirt or rainjacket issue.....

Will Elliott
(elliott.will) - F

Locale: Juneau, AK
ws on 06/20/2014 01:09:00 MDT Print View

Hope you have a great trip. Some thoughts:

-baselayer midweigth size S
-fleece 100wt size S

Sounds good.

-windshirt hooded New Balance W size M - (fit is on the short side as with most women's garments). This is quite breathable and doesn't do much in rain. The hood is small, zips up to bellow the chin and will go under the helmet.

I wouldn't like this. I take my hood on and off all the time depending on active I am. I would get a windshirt that goes over your helmet and, just as important, stays tucked in under a harness. Fit is super important. Maybe you can find a slim and long men's jacket. Or sew your own. Just take a garment that fits and cut it up into pattern pieces.

-down parka OR Maestro size S

If you get stuck in a storm and have to dig a horrible snowcave and then wait there forever, brushing up against the walls and getting wet, or having spindrift blow in all over you, a synthetic parka would be better :p

-I'm pretty sure a hardshell will be needed, which brings us to the first question: would you want the hardshell to layer under or over the down parka?

Trading down for synthetic will help. Hardshell under parka.

I already have these shells:
-SD Microlight W size M - doesn't fit over the Maestro
-SD Microlight size L
These 2 are PU coated polyester, don't breathe, promote condensation and are not seam sealed. The hoods zips up to about chin level.
-Wild Roses 8000m parka W size L
-Mammut Extreme size L - this one is really big on me
These 2 are old (~11 years) Gore-Tex XCR harshells, burly and heavy. They have pit zips, velcro cuffs, hoods that zip up (or velcro) to nose level and would offer the most wind protection.
These and the SD size L fit over the Maestro with room to spare.

I don't know. I would probably skip the hardshell and be really proactive about turning around.

-For the lower body I'll wear:
-softshell pants OR Supercharger size S - nice and slim cut

Sounds good.


I'm thinking I'll need another layer for the pants, but not sure what to choose from these:
-baselayer tights

Maybe.

-M65 army pant liners. I have 2 pairs: an equivalent to small but they are short and I'd have to take the boots off to put them on; an equivalent to medium, acceptable length and have buttons on the sides, so no need to take boots off, but heavier than the other pair (400g vs 250g).

Don't take your boots off.

-hardshell pants Mammut Extreme size M - these are Gore-Tex, old, heavy and really burly. They have strong reinforcements on the behind, knees and insides of the lower legs. They also have suspenders, side zips and side velcro, snow cuffs.

See below.
==

So it sounds like you have a great start but there are some heavy layers you might think about replacing. You can save your nice, new, lightweight outfit for special occasions, like climbing big mountains, and it will last. Don't worry about durability. Just patch stuff. I'm guessing that your pack, harness, biners, rope, boots, ice screws, ice ax, crampons, stove, shovel, and all that other heavy stuff is already dialed in. Otherwise lightweight new clothes don't matter much.

Here's what I would wear:


warm single boots
mid weight sock
body-glide or some blister stuff
no gaiters

thin long underwear
thin stretchwoven pants
waterproof shell that goes on over crampons

thin long sleeved shirt
hooded fleece pullover
hooded windshirt
synthetic parka

thin softshell glove
puffy liner
shell mitts

hat
helmet
sunglasses

8mm rope
light crampons
light axe
light harness
short screws
dyneema runners
tiny biners

spray everything with DWR
pack should weigh less than a pound
check the weather continually
train train train

and of course other stuff like water and headlamp, etc., but what I'm getting at is that I would just bring the lightest stuff I could afford and think about it as a system, plus the bare minimum of emergency stuff, and be ready to flee to safety if the weather started turning.


Have fun!

Edited by elliott.will on 06/20/2014 01:33:55 MDT.