Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Rainier vs. Mt. Washington

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    5
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Rainier vs. Mt. Washington

    Hey guys,

    I'm posting here because I've never found a better source of information on one particular mountain that I did researching my first winter summit of Mt. Washington this past January. Some friends and I are going for a summit on Mt. Rainier in a few weeks and I wanted to find out if anyone on this message board has so I can get some more beta. If you've done it, let me know what time of year and what route. We did Lion's Head this winter and from all the trip reports I've read on Rainier, I was a lot more intimidated by Mt. Washington.

    Thanks!

    Daniel

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    2,679
    Thanks
    7
    Thanked 32 Times in 28 Posts

    Default

    I've been on Rainier. We made it to around 13k on the Ingraham Direct route and got turned around by crevasses. There were only two of us and we were simultaneously post-holing into separate crevasses.

    We spent the first night in the Camp Muir shelter which was dreadful, took a rest day the next day and spent the next night in our tent. We left very early the next morning for our summit attempt.

    We climbed in early May so it was early in the climbing season. We had to do a lot of route finding in the dark...which you wont have to do this time of year.

    Our plan was to carry a lot of gear and make multiple attempts if needed. All that gear made for a very long day getting from Paradise to Camp Muir. Next time I'd prefer to go much lighter and make a two day assault.

    Let me know if you have any questions.
    Bill
    Next up: Vermont City Marathon: May, 2011
    EasternLight

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    252
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 5 Times in 5 Posts

    Default Rainier vs Washington

    RumRunner - these are 2 very different mountains each with their own set of challenges. I have summited Rainier multiple times during July and reached 11,000' in February - all times via the Dissapointment Cleaver/camp muir route. Since I don't have a climbing partner I have gone the guided route. Rainier is a heavily glaciated peak and self arrest/crevasse rescue/rope team travel skills are neccessary. Other things like rest stepping and pressure breathing are needed as well. Throw altitude into the equation and it becomes quite a good challenge. The hike up to camp muir is about 5 miles and 5000 vertical ft of altitude gain - exhausting but not steep at any point. Weather can roll in at any time, so good navigation skills are needed on the muir snowfield. Above Camp muir the DC route is fairly easy to follow from May-Sept as the local guide services have the route pretty well beaten into the snow and ice. But without solid glacier travel skills you would be well advised to hire one of the guide services. Crevasse falls are a real threat. Hope this helps.
    Tim

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    2,679
    Thanks
    7
    Thanked 32 Times in 28 Posts

    Default

    I think they know what they are getting into.
    Bill
    Next up: Vermont City Marathon: May, 2011
    EasternLight

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    5
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Thanks guys. Yeah, we know what we're getting into. And just as with Washington the most important skill is knowing when to bail because conditions are over our head.

    We plan on spending an entire day practicing self-arrest, rescue, and glacier travel skills before summiting. So two nights with plenty of gear, but definitely necessary.

    I've never been a fan of GPS (I'm 25 though I'm a purist most of the time), but do you guys recommend one for emergencies (ie, white-out en route) or do you think topo reading skills and a compass are sufficient?

    So the Muir cabin wasn't anything like the luxurious Harvard Mountaineering Cabin??

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    252
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 5 Times in 5 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunner View Post
    Thanks guys. Yeah, we know what we're getting into. And just as with Washington the most important skill is knowing when to bail because conditions are over our head.

    We plan on spending an entire day practicing self-arrest, rescue, and glacier travel skills before summiting. So two nights with plenty of gear, but definitely necessary.

    I've never been a fan of GPS (I'm 25 though I'm a purist most of the time), but do you guys recommend one for emergencies (ie, white-out en route) or do you think topo reading skills and a compass are sufficient?

    So the Muir cabin wasn't anything like the luxurious Harvard Mountaineering Cabin??
    Rumrunner - A gps would be usefull, especially descending the featureless muir snowfield should visibility deteriorate. You could mark waypoints on the way up for your return. I've seen coordinates posted somewhwere on the web but I can't locate them now. Be sure though to have a map and compass and a reliable altimeter as well.

    Here's a great link to the climbing section of the nps Rainier website:
    http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/climbing.htm

    The bunkouse at camp muir or cabin as you refer to it in your post is nothing more than a big plywood box with platforms in it for sleeping, but I believe it is only for the use of guided parties. I have never seen it used by private parties. You'll have to pitch your tent nearby. Most parties spend the night here acclimating a bit. You'll be at 10,000 ft here.

    Usually an alpine start between midnight and 2 am - you'll cross the cowlitz glacier - climb a notch over cathedral rocks and then traverse the ingraham flats. I have also seen parties make a second camp at ingraham flats for a less hurried climb and this would also make for a shorter summit day.

    From here its a steep climb up the crumbly rock nose of disappointment cleaver. Wear a helmet as rockfall is a real hazard here from parties above you - you want to travel quickly through this section. It's quite steep here - somewhat on the order of the steep section of lion head winter route. Your party will stay roped the whole way above camp muir practicing standard glacier travel distancing, but on this steep rocky section, coil the rope in your hands and travel close together - otherwise, the rope will become entangled in the rock.

    Above the cleaver, travel roped again spaced apart and the route zig zags around crevasses toward the summit crater. Ideally you want to summit around between dawn and 8 am and be back at muir by 11 or so before the upper glaciers soften in the midday sun. Also rockfall hazard is lessened on the cleaver when everything is still frozen in place.

    You might also want to pick up an excellent book on Rainier called "Mount Rainier - a climbing guide" by Mike Gauthier. It's the best guide I've seen. Also - be sure to visit the web link above.
    This route is the most heavily travelled on the mountain so be prepared for lots of other climbers. Also - do some research on proper self care to help you with the altitude - It's a real issue and all of you in your party need to monitor each other - eat and breathe and drink, drink, drink at each break.
    Hope this helps.
    Tim
    Last edited by climbabout; 06-06-2009 at 07:12 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    2,679
    Thanks
    7
    Thanked 32 Times in 28 Posts

    Default

    Agreed, that guide book is essential reading. Study the route descriptions and photos. There is also a really cool tri-fold map that details three routes, make sure you buy the right one.

    From what I remember there are two huts at Camp Muir. One for the public and one for the guided climbers. We obviously stayed in the one for the public. As the snow melts out it is possible that it becomes a litter brighter inside and less dank. Since there is an abundance of snow another good option would be one of those nice tarp/teepee setups. They require just a pole in the middle and you can dig out a huge living area.

    Given that you are on such a highly traveled route the GPS may not be essential, but it is very easy to become lost and disoriented in a whiteout. On our hike in there was a whiteout on the Muir Snowfields and you could barely tell which way was up. At that point there was no established trail so the GPS came in handy. A compass may have helped, but a map would have been useless. I pre-programmed my GPS and we followed that staight to the camp. A few hundred feet away we popped out of the clouds and Camp Muir was right in front of us.

    Honestly, I'm not very sentimental about that purest non-technology mumbo jumbo. Without a GPS we would have been setting up camp in the middle of the Muir Snowfield.
    Bill
    Next up: Vermont City Marathon: May, 2011
    EasternLight

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    5
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    haha, I didn't say the purist feelings were smart! I just seem loathe to pick up modern conveniences if I can safely (and relatively effectively) survive without them. I call it a purist mentality, but it's not arrogance but more environmental connectedness that purveys the thought.

    Working at REI, I'm also amazed at the looks I get from people when I tell them (when buying a $500 GPS) that they still need an old fashioned map and compass and decent map reading skills. They have this "but Bill Garmin Gates has my back!" look on their face... it's almost priceless. It's like in "Last American Man" when he describes how a kid didn't understand the dynamics of rolling a tire.

    Ah, I digress.... thanks for all the advice!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Sunny FL
    Posts
    236
    Thanks
    16
    Thanked 12 Times in 9 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunner View Post
    Hey guys,

    I'm posting here because I've never found a better source of information on one particular mountain that I did researching my first winter summit of Mt. Washington this past January. Some friends and I are going for a summit on Mt. Rainier in a few weeks and I wanted to find out if anyone on this message board has so I can get some more beta. If you've done it, let me know what time of year and what route. We did Lion's Head this winter and from all the trip reports I've read on Rainier, I was a lot more intimidated by Mt. Washington.

    Thanks!

    Daniel
    I totally agree that this forum has so much info? it was such a great resource when I was getting to know the White Mountains area a while back and when I did my first winter climb of Mt wash


    For Rainier all the above is good info from some very experienced climbers, but I should add one thing that quite often gets overlooked in training. When climbing Mt Washington you are most likely only taking a "day pack" that may when 10 lbs or so ( usually I carry crampons, axe, food, water, emergency blanket, flashlight and a few other necessities). However, when doing Rainier ( or any big mountain that requires overnight) you are either going to be carrying a sled full of junk or a really large bag that weighs 10000lbswith a tent and tons of food and other stuff? obviously this can be a concern for training regiment


    Also, my wife has planned a trip to Seattle this August and I?ve been looking into climbing Mt Baker while I'm out there. I've found this site where people post trip reports with pictures and I thought it may be of use for you regarding mountain conditions etc,

    http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubb...bb/tripreports

    Best of luck, Tim

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •