Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mt. Rainier 2014

I am super excited to announce that this Labor Day weekend, on September 2, 2014, I will take on my next biggest mountaineering goal, Mt. Rainier, with a guided attempt with RMI Expeditions.  Mt. Rainier, which stands at 14,410 feet above sea level, is the most glaciated mountain in the lower United States.  Located in the Cascade Range within Washington State, Mt. Rainier is also the most prominent peak in the lower United States and the 21st most prominent peak in the world - which means that it is massive, and one of the best.  In addition to that, its an active volcano with frequent earthquake tremors, but has not erupted since 1894.

This plan has been in place for a few months now (I'm very very sneaky), and I've been getting ready for the next biggest adventure of my life.  As with any cross-country adventure, and high-altitude climb, a lot of planning and training is necessary.  Adventure planning is sort of my thing, and climbing, well that sort of is too...I've climbed almost 200,000 feet of elevation, over 120 mountains (above 4,000 feet) since January (8 months), and completed some lengthy endurance hikes in that time, along with bagging every New England 4,000-footer last winter.  Will it be enough to help me attempt Rainier? I hope so, but you never know until you're there.

I will be joining a guided team for RMI's 4-day program, and 2-day summit attempt via the Disappointment Cleaver or Ingraham Glacier route.  This depends on the conditions and the decision of the guides/team which will be made from Camp Muir at 10,060'.  The climb is approximately 15 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 9,000 ft.  Per the plan, I will be leaving Camp Muir for the summit around midnight on September 3, 2014.

You will be able to track the progress of my climb via my Spot Messenger, by clicking on the link or right here on my blog home page.  Tracking will be active September 2-3, 2014. Bookmark it!

RMI will also post a couple of dispatches on their blog regarding the team's progress and status on the mountain.  CLICK HERE to bookmark the blog dispatches for all RMI teams on Mt. Rainier.

Mt. Rainier Weather
Here are some links to check out the weather and current conditions on Mt. Rainier, including two webcams.

Camp Muir Webcam

Mt. Rainier Pack List
CLICK HERE to see my entire gear list, and what I'm bringing! You'll also see how I tweaked it to make sure I have all of the required items.

My Complete Rainier Adventure Plan & Itinerary

Air Transportation by Jet Blue

Aug 29
Depart Boston at 7:05am Friday, arrive in Portland at 10:13am (Portland time)

Sep 4
Depart Seattle at 10:50pm, arrive in Boston at 7:00am Friday

Rental Car

Enterprise Car Rental
August 29-September 5
Intermediate SUV

Accommodations in Ashford

Whittaker’s Bunkhouse
August 29, 2014 - September 1, 2014
& September 3, 2014

RMI Pre-Trip Checklist
Purchase travel insurance - Did not Purchase
Return the Registration Packet to the RMI Office. - Completed
Arrange Lodging in Ashford. - Confirmed
Arrange Transportation to Ashford - Confirmed
Reserve rental equipment. - TBD

Detailed Trip Itinerary
(*Includes specific details directly from RMI's website)

August 29, 2014

6:00am                  Arrive at Logan
7:05am                  Depart Boston
10:00am (local)      Arrive in Portland at PDX
10:00am-12:00pm Retrieve luggage, pick-up rental car
12:00pm-4:00pm   Drive 2hr 15 min to Ashford, WA My Driving Directions
3:00pm-11:00pm   Check in at Whittaker’s Bunkhouse & Free Time

August 30, 2014:

Free day near Ashford, WA - We'll see what happens!

August 31, 2014

3:00pm - 6:00pm   Pre-Trip Orientation

We will meet at 3:00 p.m. at Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford, WA. Please dress casually and bring your climbing equipment and clothing.
*Note: Whittaker Mountaineering Rental Equipment is available for pickup after 12 p.m.

We begin our Pre-Trip Orientation with a welcome and introduction of team members and guides. The afternoon is spent providing a focused introduction to a variety of topics and preparing climbers for the ascent. This includes a detailed personal equipment discussion and gear check; an introduction to safety practices including use of helmets, harnesses, and avalanche transceivers; and instruction regarding Leave No Trace practices and environmental considerations.

Please make your own arrangements to stay in the Ashford area this evening.

September 1, 2014

8:15am                Mountaineering Day School

Meet at 8:15 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp. Course runs to 5:00pm. Please arrive dressed for hiking, packed with your Mountaineering Day School gear.

The Mountaineering Day School is spent training on the lower slopes of Mt. Rainier. Climbers are introduced to a number of skills, from the foundational techniques of efficient mountain travel (rest-stepping and pressure breathing) through cramponing, roped travel, and ice axe arrest practices. The training is a great introduction to mountaineering for novice climbers as well as refresher for those with previous experience, ensuring that all climbers have the basic skills to climb safely and comfortably together on the mountain.

Please make your own arrangements for the day’s meals and a place to stay in the Ashford area this evening.

September 2, 2014

8:15am                Start of Climb

Meet at 8:15 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp. After a short team meeting, a shuttle takes our group to the trail head at Paradise. The hike from Paradise (5,400') to Camp Muir (10,060') is nearly 4.5 miles and takes most of the day. Once at Camp Muir, the guides will address the specifics regarding the climb, including route conditions, food, equipment, clothing recommendations, and any further questions you might have. Accommodations at Muir consist of a small mountain hut with bunks and sleeping pads. After dinner we retire to our sleeping bags to rest for the upcoming summit attempt.

September 3, 2014

12:00am-1:30am Summit Day

On summit day we don ropes, crampons, helmets, and grab our ice axes. The route begins with a rising traverse across the Cowlitz Glacier and ascends the pumiced switchbacks of Cathedral Gap. From here, we gain the Ingraham Glacier and ascend either the Ingraham Glacier or Disappointment Cleaver routes; the actual route choice is determined by many factors and is left to the professional discretion of your guides. The steeper section of the Ingraham Headwall or Disappointment Cleaver is the physical crux of the route. After reach the upper mountain, we ascend the higher slopes of Mt. Rainier, navigating the crevassed glaciers to reach the summit.

At 14,410 feet, Mt. Rainier is the highest point in Washington. The summit is spectacular with panoramic views from the Pacific to the eastern side of the Cascades when the weather is clear. A large crater dominates the summit, with steam rising out of the cavernous summit vents and the bare ground near the summit is often warm to the touch.

After reaching the summit, we descend back to Camp Muir. The descent typically requires half the amount of time of the ascent but requires significant effort as we retrace our route down the mountain. The duration of the climb depends on many variables including snow conditions, the time of the year, the route conditions, the weather, and temperature among others. Once back at Camp Muir, we gather our gear and descend back to Paradise. At Paradise, a shuttle takes the team down to Rainier BaseCamp. In Ashford we gather as a team to celebrate our adventure.

The duration of the climb depends on many variables including snow conditions, the time of year, the route conditions, the weather during our climb, the temperature, etc. Those variables often affect our arrival time to Ashford, which might vary dramatically from climb to climb. For this reason we do not recommend scheduling an airline flight before midnight on the last day of your program.

6:00pm-11:00pm Return to Whittaker’s Bunkhouse

September 4, 2014

11:00am              Check out of Whittaker’s Bunkhouse
11:00am-4:00pm Drive to Seattle Airport Driving Directions
8:00pm                Be at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
10:50pm              Depart Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

September 5, 2014

7:00am                Arrival at Logan Airport, Boston

Important Contact Information

RMI Expeditions (Rainier Mountaineering, Inc) (Website)
Phone: 1-888-89-CLIMB (1-888-892-5462) or Local: 360-569-2227
Physical Address:
30027 SR 706 East
Ashford, WA 98304


Whittaker’s Bunkhouse Hotel (Website)

Physical Address:
30205 State Route 706 East
Ashford, WA 98304

Phone: 360-569-2439

Mount Rainier National Park (Website)

Physical Address:
55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304

By Phone: 360-569-2211 or 360-569-2177 TDD (Park Headquarters)


  1. Sounds awesome! I might have planned a bit of time to visit Seattle - it's a great city and a great time of year. Good luck on your climb. I hope you have good weather.

    1. Thanks, Asa! I wish I could stay longer. I have a good chunk of hours on 2 days to visit each Portland and Seattle. I haven't decided what to do on my free day, yet. I'm lucky to get the spur of the moment vacation, and footing the bill for a car for the week by myself stretches me a bit. I still can't wait to see the two cities, their airports, and all the mountains between.