3-Day Muir Climb Day-to-Day Itinerary
Day Before the Climb.
Climbers are required to arrive in Seattle the afternoon before our trip begins. That afternoon at 2:00pm you will be met at our office by an Alpine Ascents staff member to give you an overview of the climb, answer all your questions and make sure you have all your equipment or rental gear necessary for the climb. We will also give you instruction in Leave No Trace (appropriate wilderness practices) and discuss the National Park Mission Statement. You will return to your hotel for an early morning pick up on Day 1.
Training: Review the functionality of each piece of gear, wilderness ethics, LNT and mission statement of the National Park Service
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. There we meet the rest of the Alpine Ascents guide team.
After breakfast we drive into Mount 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 (10,080 ft). After donning our packs we hike Park trails to the snow line where we continue up on snow to Camp Muir. The hike takes 4 to 5 hours and we will stop to rest several times along the way and you will receive instruction on many topics such as moving efficiently on snow and discuss topics such as glaciology and volcanology. . Prominent features of this hike include ascending up and over Panorama Point (7,100 ft), crossing the glacier fed stream of Pebble Creek (7,200 ft), & viewing the formidable Nisqually Glacier & Ice Cliff that spans top to bottom on this southern aspect of Mt. Rainier. We have excellent views of the Kautz Glacier & Fuhrer Finger climbing routes from the Muir Snowfield. As we crest the final portion of the Muir Snowfield & arrive Camp Muir (10,000 ft) we have Muir Peak to our East & the massive ridge line of the Cowlitz Cleaver to the West.
That night we sleep in our private hut at Camp Muir. The hut allows us to have further discussions on mountain topics as well as eat dinner in a private environment.
Training: Discuss safety aspects of climb. Instruction includes rest steps, pressure breathing temperature management, hydration and mountain physiology. During rest periods we have short discussions on glaciology and mountain environments
After breakfast we begin our training. We cover all aspects of self arrest, crampon and ice axe use as well as proper rope techniques for climbing the mountain. Training in this venue affords spectacular views to the South of Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Hood, as well as the Cowlitz Glacier & Cathedral Ridge to the North East. After lunch we pack our personal gear along with tents and climb across the Cowlitz Glacier over the rocky ridge line of Cathedral Gap to Ingraham Flats. (11,100 to 11,200 feet depending on where we camp). This two-hour climb allows us to train in rope management and glacier travel skills while bringing us to a beautiful and remote location at the base of the Ingraham Glacier. From this camp we can see Little Tahoma (11,100 ft) a prominent sub-peak of Mt. Rainier, and the North Cascades range including the volcanoes Glacier Peak and Mt. Baker. Here we establish our high camp. Our first goal is to make good tent sites that will protect our tents from the elements while we are on our summit attempt. Our guides will prepare the dining tent, boil water for our meals and give a detailed account of what will be required the next day. We go to bed early so that we can wake up around midnight and prepare for the summit climb.
Training: Rope management, crampon technique, use of avalanche transceivers, self arrest and glacier travel.
We start our climb around midnight. After getting dressed we jump into the dining tent for breakfast and top off our water bottles. Our route depends on the time of year and conditions. We will either ascend the Disappointment Cleaver or the Ingraham Glacier Direct Route (early season only). As we are far ahead of those climbers coming from Camp Muir we will have the mountain to ourselves. Climbing up from our camp on the Ingraham Glacier or snow/rock slopes of the Disappointment Cleaver we encounter a steeper pitch and apply our learned technique of precise footwork & regulated breathing, which then moderates as we continue above 12,300 feetfor the remaining 2,000 feet of glacier leading up the volcano's cone to the Crater Rim. It takes a total of 4 to 5 hours to ascend from our high camp to the crater rim and then another hour to Columbia Crest, the main summit of Mount Rainier. Along the way we route find around crevasses and seracs and make our way up the mountain clipping fixed protection with our climbing ropes when necessary. We take short rests along the way to hydrate and eat. As it is often cold these rest stops are frequent but short in duration. Our goal is to keep a moderate yet steady pace which allows us to keep warm during the early morning hours. After reaching the Crater Rim we take a longer break and if all is good, head across the crater itself for another hour to Columbia Crest.
After celebrating the summit and taking photos we descend carefully back to Ingraham Flats. Here we pack up our camp, rope up and climb back down to Camp Muir. Much of our gear will be left here for other expeditions that will be coming up. From Camp Muir we carry our personal gear back to Paradise and then drive back to Seattle for an evening of dining and fun.Training: This day allows to implement and enforce what we have learned in the previous days