Denali Prep Day-to-Day Itinerary
Mt Rainier during the Winter and early Spring months provides similar conditions as found on Denali. This realistic training ground will give the hands on training you will need for climbing Denali. Scheduled Route: Muir Route
Early Morning Gear check in our Seattle office. After introductions of climbers & guides, we will check all personal equipment & make adjustments for any items, as well as discuss safety, Mt. Rainier, and the National Park Mission Statement. After sorting out our food & attending to any miscellaneous items we pack up our expedition back packs then drive to the mountain, rig our sleds, and travel using snowshoes to our first camp. During the course, snowshoe training is combined with pulling gear sleds. The afternoon is devoted to snow camping techniques, including safe camp locations, building snow shelters, cooking and cold-weather health maintenance. Camp at Alta Vista (6,500’).
In the morning our training will focus on the following: Map and compass navigation, knots, mountain safety, equipment overview and prussiking as it pertains to self rescue from a crevasse. We will cut our perlon cord & make slings for purssiking.
In the afternoon students learn the fundamentals of moving safely and efficiently on snow slopes of all degrees. Instruction includes: kicking steps, rest and balance techniques walking with and without crampons, using the ice axe, & self-belay. We learn how to use our avalanche transceivers & do a practice search.
Today we focus on rope team travel. We also spend considerable time learning to properly construct snow & ice anchors for varying glacier conditions (snow pickets, bollards, dead man, ice screws). We discuss then practice anchor placements and technical rope climbing instruction for ascending steep snow slopes is given and practiced. We learn to lead climb, belay, rappel, and to ascend & descend fixed lines.
Glacier travel practice. Proper rope-up techniques using sleds are taught. Considerable time is spent discussing route finding through crevassed areas and identifying our position on maps. Topics such as travel in white-outs and inclement weather are discussed.
Today we move camp from Alta Vista (6,500’) to Camp Muir (10,080’). We spend the morning packing and moving camp. This opportunity allows us to hone both packing and camp set-up skills. This is a very strenuous day, often having to break trail in fresh snow while carrying heavy packs & hauling sleds. This day will be the primary fitness evaluation for climbers, as this effort closely resembles one of the more physically demanding days on Denali.
Crevasse rescue. You learn to rescue yourself and others from crevasses. More importantly, you learn how to stay out of them! Instruction includes setting rescue systems and prussiking out of a crevasse with pack and sled. This full day of crevasse rescue training gives every climber several scenarios in which they must demonstrate they can perform the rescue system efficiently.
More review of prior topics. Discussion of Denali itself, altitude sickness, hypothermia, gear, etc. Grasping the skills necessary to be proficient on a Denali expedition. Discussions include avalanche conditions and safe route-finding. In camp, we prepare for summit day and bed down early.
Summit day. Conditions permitting, we attempt a summit climb. This demanding day affords the opportunity to apply all of the skills learned during the course. Our summit attempt involves climbing Rainier’s glaciated slopes on the Cowlitz, Ingraham, & upper Emmons glaciers, as well as the Cathedral ridge & Disappointment Cleaver ridge. If no summit attempt is made the day will be used for scouting possible climbing routes in the area, practicing climbing on steep & sustained slopes, and more review of the prior days training topics.
Today we descend to Paradise & drive to Seattle, arriving in the evening. This can also be a very strenuous day as we descend 4500’ from Camp Muir to Paradise with heavy packs & sleds. Upon arriving Seattle & de-issuing all group & rental gear, climbers generally opt to take a hot shower, enjoy a nice meal, and stay in their comfortable hotel bed before departing the following morning for home.
*Should weather & mountain conditions dictate otherwise, the itinerary will be modified to provide our course curriculum accordingly.
*Because we haul sleds on this program in addition to our back pack, as this closely resembles how we travel on Denali, this gives climbers the option to bring heavier food options instead of lightweight dehydrated meals.