Descending Mount Rainier after a successful summit attempt

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  1. Back in August I went down to Seattle to visit some friends (I am Canadian), when I was crossing the border, the officer was asking me questions. Why I’m going down, what I’ll be doing and such. So I’m listing things off that I heard in the group chat, the fish market in Seattle, space needle, laser tag, hiking up Mount Rainier, drinking, you know; the usual touristy stuff.

    The officer said: “you’re climbing Mount Rainier?”
    I replied: “yeah, sounds nice.”
    “Have you climbed many mountains?” (He’s giving me a look like I’m stupid)
    “I think I have the scale of Mount Rainier wrong.”

  2. I don’t know when this happened to me, but now when I see the word “Rainier” I instinctively pronounce it “Ron-yay”. I went to WSU and the Coug used to do $1 Rainier tallboys on Monday nights and we jokingly called it that because it was so fancy compared to Busch Light. Now it’s not really a joke anymore.

    1. Thanks! We started the final push at 12am from Camp Muir (about 10,000ft) and summited around 6:30am, then finished or descent at about 5,500ft around 4:30pm. It was a pretty incredible experience, with a little bit of suffering haha

        1. As far as my mountaineering experience goes, I’ve climbed the Grand Teton and Mount Kilimanjaro, so I’ve had some experience with altitude. Personally I didn’t struggle with altitude on Rainier, but I would say it’s the toughest of the three mountains; it’s a long, long day. But if you’re committed to cardio/training endurance 3-4 times a week for a couple of months, and can afford a guide, I’d say it’s doable for a novice. As long as you’re not afraid of crossing crevasses via ladders, that is :P. That was definitely one of the highlights of the climb for me

          1. > As long as you’re not afraid of crossing crevasses via ladders

            OK then, removing that one from my bucket list

          2. You should climb Fuji sometime. I did the full ascent/descent in 1 day, so it’s a pretty easy climb, but still a really cool experience with beautiful views.

          3. Fuji is awesome and pretty easy. Did it a few weeks ago with barely an gear. Not Gray views though due to clouds and weather unfortunately

          4. Walk up then walk back down. It’s super easy. I saw kids as young as 10 do it along with very old people.

          5. Consider doing the two-day ascent. You sleep in these shacks a few hundred meters below the summit then start back up at 2 AM to catch the sunrise. This is recommended to help with acclimatization but doing the quick ascent didn’t hinder us at all. Also the trails are only officially opened June-August each year, so it will be hot as hell at the base and freezing up top.

          6. Is it like swamp ass humid hot too ? That level of misery makes me not even want to attempt it combined with the fact that my body hates high altitudes

          7. Everywhere in Japan during those months are swamp-ass humid. finally getting up the mountain was such a relief until my sweat started to freeze and I realized I was wearing gym shorts and only brought a hoodie and beanie lol.

            [unprepared](https://i.imgur.com/vRVUKlv.jpg)

          8. I took a bus to 5th station early in the morning and did it I’m a day. All I had were hiking boots, water and a backpack. Did most of it in shorts and a t shirt. Pretty easy climb

          9. Apply sunscreen several times and wear a hot that blocks the sun.

            Holy shit is that sun intense up there in summer.

            Also, it’s super easy for anyone that’s already fit, no experience or gear required. Except water, bring that because sometimes the vending machines are closed (serious).

          10. Don’t Rainier require previous mountaineering experience in order to secure the climb permit? WA have quite a few rules, but could be a guide is enough to overrule most of them

          11. Going with a guide service doesn’t require mountaineering experience. I believe if you’re going with out a guide service, you need experience.

          12. Do you mean with head stuff? Because I can get that high with some acclimation, but I’m definitely nowhere near 100% physically.

        2. My Rainier is the most dangerous mountain to climb in North America. Just wanted to throw that out there. Do with it what you will.

          1. One of the factors needed to be taken into account is climb time spent on mountain. Rainier is only a two day climb whereas Denali takes upwards of 3 weeks, with about 2 weeks spent on the actual mountain. You experience a much smaller amount of danger on a two day climb than on a 2 week climb, yet Rainier claims a similar amount of lives. 3 per year on average with the deadliest year being 11 lives lost (if you don’t count the plane crash that killed 30+) and well over 100 deaths in total.

        3. Define novice heh. If you’re someone that goes hiking every few months and hardly exercises, it won’t be for you.

          1. I only ask based on my experience on the Annapurna circuit. People cried when they tried to make the pass at 3am, in the snow, at 17,700 feet. People tried to do it stoned. It’s definitely worth knowing what you’re getting into before these kinds of things. Personally it’s not for me. I’m really sensitive to altitude sickness.

          2. Definitely a good thing to ask, been training for mountaineering for a few years now. The fatigue is no joke

        1. Its a normal starting time for the guided expeditions. Early morning start has better snow conditions (minimize crevasse falls and climbing through slushy snow sucks) and in case of an emergency and you get stuck on the mountain you have more daylight to deal with any rescue.

          1. Oof. That’s a little out of my price range right now. I’d love to climb a mountain like that though. Mt. Shasta in California is the one I’ve been looking at though.

          2. Shasta is doable, but is still true mountaineering. Be careful if you try it without a guide.

          3. What would you say is the smallest/easiest thing that is still mountaineering. My kids and I have some longer term goals but we’d love to start smaller sooner.

          4. Mt. Saint Helens is a great starter climb. It’s only 8-10 hours and that’s going pretty slow and steady breaks etc. just about 5000’ elevation change so no altitude issues. You want to be in decent shape because it’s a steady steep climb the whole way up. Not technical at all really basically just don’t fall off, especially when you get to the top! The crater is really something to see! Awesome in the most literal sense. Crazy to imagine all that stone blasting off from right we’re you’re standing! Last time it was $30 per person I believe.

          5. Try looking into Middle and South Teton. Both doable in one day as they’re really close to each other. Neither are a technical climb, mostly just some scrambling and a long Boulder field. You can do them without any climbing gear late in summer. Early-mid summer you’ll probably want crampons and definitely an ice axe(and knowing how to use it) but not much else is needed.

          6. We just did South last week!!! Yes. Looking for climbs just like​ this. The 6 year old struggled a bit but she did it.

          7. You took a 6 year old up the south? That’s pretty ballsy but I’m impressed! Love seeing the young ones up in the mountains. Not sure what other experience you have in the Teets but Buck and Teewinot would be good ones as well. Teewinot can be a pretty hard slog, much shorter than the South but real steep the entire way. What’s cool about it is you can go off the main route and find your own way up once you gain enough elevation.

          8. I can’t offer you a good recommendation on the smallest mountaineering climb, but I can juxtapose it with the highest non-technical climb in Canada, Mt. Temple at 3,544m!

            The approach is done by tourists and families all the time, and a dozen or more head for the summit every day. It’s a 10-14h round trip so it’s a tough one day, dawn till dusk, or you can start at midnight like OP for the sunset on the top.

            No snowshoes required, helmets are always a good idea, some bouldering 3/4 up but no rope work. Ice pick is an optional luxury in peak season but sometimes necessary on the shoulders. Stay clear of the cornices, they can break off under your weight and you’ll find you’re already a few feet over the side of the mountain itself!

            Altitude sickness isn’t an issue cause you aren’t at altitude for more than a few minutes but you’ll want a thermal and wind layer and some good gloves, even if it’s 100’F in the valley.

            Have fun!

          9. It’s not quite mountaineering, but you could look into more simple peakbagging lists. The Sierra Peak Section is a good one with some of the “harder” ones being class 3/4 stuff with some optional snow routes. But it’s mostly class 2 stuff. Beta is pretty solid. Decent easy way to practice off trail navigation and dealing with approach terrain and buff your “resume.”

          10. You can hike to the top of lassen, and Whitney in a day without any gear. Shasta is probably a good one with minimal training, but a guide will be able to tell you when it’s safe to go. The weather can change quick up there, and if the weather is to good, the ice can break off and landslide down the mountain.

          11. Oh, I’m aware. I’ve done some reading on Shasta. Even did a speech about it in my public speaking class a couple years ago. The topic was supposed to be something we want to do that currently seems impossible for us and to research what it would take to make it possible. A surprising number of people did theirs about buying a house and plot of land.

    1. Apparently they’re called penitentes – I don’t know too much about them, but I believe they’re formed through a combination of wind and heat from the sun. It was very surreal being surrounded by them

        1. > for disguising the height(s)

          That’s interesting; I wonder if the KKK wear that garb for a similar reason.

      1. I think they are formed when dark colored particles (rock, dust, etc) settle on the snow when it’s still flat around the spring time. The particles are heated by the sun since they are dark colored and melt the surrounding snow. The peaks are formed from the gaps between these particles. They essentially drill into the snow using the radiated heat from the sun. I could be wrong though.

        1. Same process that accelerates glacial melt, if you’re correct. There’s a really informative doc on Netflix where they mention that process; I believe it’s called Chasing Ice or something similar?

  3. It’s not a summit attempt if it was successful…

    Should read: “Descending Mount Rainier after successful summit.”

    (Just saying…)

      1. Sorry daughter; the sentence structure is ill formed in the way it’s using both ‘successful’ and ‘attempt’ at once.

        1. Really? Sitting in South Seattle I didn’t notice much. I guess there was the ash that covered shit. You are right. I sure am happy that it is clearing up tho!

          1. Yeah it was only for a few days the most recent time. I saw and smelled it up here in Northgate. Felt like being back in SoCal.

  4. Anyone that has made summit on rainier want to give a difficulty comparison to day-hiking through the enchantments? Maybe it’s not comparable. I’ve always wanted to do rainier and have the opportunity to next year, but would like a frame of reference.

    1. I know RMI just opened their calendar for slots next season. If you want to climb (with them) best book now. I got to the top a few years back with guides. It was great, and very different from this… As it was early season and the route was smooth with few crevasses. Given how good the route was I wish the guides would have allowed us more time. But their mission is to get you up and down as quickly, safely as possible.

      Finally, when you did Enchantments, did you go up Asgaard? The DC/ common route on Rainier is like that – longer, obviously – for two days. Plus, it’s snowy alone with the various traappings that requires (ropes, etc.). But, if you’re in good shape and the route is too, it’s not impossibly tougher.

  5. I just hiked around the Wonderland trail this summer and it was the best hike I’ve ever done, did NOT expect the summit to look like that super cool perspective though, thanks!

    1. Hope you had good weather. It’s definitely bucket list stuff. Hope time off and the permit fairy will align one day soon.

      1. Had great weather! And I would love to summit one day. Luckily we got a group permit (group sites are sooo much better), and I had the summer off from school so it worked out perfectly

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