Day 1: 6:30am orientation. We meet, check equipment and drive to the trail head. Begin hiking in the forest and ascend to the tree line (3-4hrs). After setting camp, we practice knot tying, rope handling, prussiking and other related subjects.
Day 2: Snow school. Students learn the fundamentals of moving safely/efficiently on snow slopes of all degrees. Instruction includes: balance and rest techniques, proper use of the ice axe, self-belay, self-arrest, snow climbing in roped teams, anchor placements and technical rope climbing techniques for ascending steep snow slopes. Evening discussions focus on route finding and glacier travel.
Day 3: Glacier travel and crevasse rescue. You learn proper climbing techniques for safe glacier travel including: rope techniques for teams of 3-4 persons, route finding through crevassed areas and finally crevasse rescue. Considerable time is spent on crevasse rescue as it is an essential skill for safe travel on glaciers. Everyone has the opportunity to rescue an individual from a crevasse. Instruction includes prussiking, pulley systems and placing rescue anchors on snow and ice. When we return to camp, we discuss navigation and other mountaineering topics.
Day 4: Advanced crampon techniques. We begin by developing proper techniques using crampons on low angle ice, move onto steeper and more challenging terrain. Emphasis is placed on proper technique and efficiency as these are essential on longer alpine routes. Move to high Camp.
Day 5: Summit day. This is a long and demanding day on moderate terrain where you will have a chance to apply all of the skills learned during the course. With clear weather, we should be rewarded with a spectacular view from the summit. Upon descent we return to camp
Day 6: Complete skills review break camp and descend to trailhead. Return to Seattle where climbers dine and overnight in hotel (not included in cost).
Day 7: Reconvene at Alpine Ascents Office at 6:00am, where we pack up the van and drive to Mount Rainier. Additional guide staff will join us for the Kautz/Emmons climb.
After breakfast we drive into Rainier National Park to a destination known as Paradise (5,400 ft). This beautiful area is the start for many nature hikes and is the starting point for our climb to Camp Muir (10,080ft). After donning our packs we will hike Park trails to Glacier Vista where we have excellent views of Mt. Rainier, Mt Adams and Mt Saint Helens. We descend 400 feet to the Nisqually Glacier, rope up and traverse across the glacier to a prominent snow chute know as the “Fan”. After ascending the Fan we follow a ridge along up the west side of the Wilson Glacier to our first camp at approximately 8000 ft. Review of climbing techniques for the climb will be covered along the way
Day 8: We pack up our camp and head up towards a steep snow slope know as the Turtle. The Kautz Glacier and our route stand before us during our climb up the Turtle to our high camp on the Wapowety Cleaver. Our exact site depends on conditions but will be approximately 11,000 ft. We establish a good camp which we leave early the next morning for the summit.
Day 9: We rise early, eat breakfast and rope up for our ascent. From High Camp we climb up to the base of the Kautz ice cliffs then descend west for a few hundred feet to a ice gully which takes us to the tongue of the Kautz glacier. We ascent steep snow and sometimes hard ice for a couple of pitches on the tongue to reach the Kautz Glacier proper. These pitches can prove to be very exciting climbing and are the crux of the climb. If conditions require we will fix lines through this area for safely and to assist us on our descent. From here we traverse and up and right towards the Apex of the Wapowety Cleaver. We cross the cleaver and continue on to Columbia Crest, the true summit of Mount Rainier. After summitting we descend our route back to High Camp for the night.
Day 10: Descend from High Camp back though the Fan and return to Paradise where the van is parked. We trade climbing boots for tennis shoes and drive back to Seattle for a shower and teams usually dine in Seattle that evening .
Alternate Days 7-10 For Emmons Glacier
Day 1: On the first day of the climb we meet at the Alpine Ascents Office at 6:00am, where we pack up the van and drive to Mount Rainier. We begin at the White River Campground (4,300’). The day is spent climbing to our first camp at about 8,500’ on the Inter Glacier, where we set camp and enjoy stunning and expansive views. This allows us to acclimatize a little and have an easy move the following day. We will review walking on snow and ice, glacier travel skills, ice axe use, and learn breathing techniques that will assist us on our ascent.
Day 2: Snow skills seminar. We make a short move past Camp Schurman (approx. 9,500’) and establish a camp at a comfortable pace at Emmons Flats. This short day allows us to relax and get as much rest as possible before our summit attempt early the next morning.
Day 3: Summit day. For safety and better traveling conditions on the glacier, we begin with an early morning wake-up to get us very near the summit by sunrise. The summit climb should take 9 to 12 hours depending upon the speed of the group. Our pace is moderate and leads to a spectacular summit day. Weather permitting, we will take a brief break here to enjoy the view, snap photos and eat and drink to fortify ourselves for the descent back to Emmons Flats.
Day 4: Descend to the trailhead. We trade climbing boots for tennis shoes and drive back to Seattle for a shower and a night of dining and celebrating.
This is an extremely rigorous four days and being in strong physical condition is mandatory. One day of skills review is included in the climb. Please note, the guide retains the right, at any point, to determine whether a climber is sufficiently fit to continue the climb.