Frequently Asked Questions - Mount Rainier Denali Preparation/Winter Mountaineering Course
Please note you will be mailed specific information for your course upon registration. The following is to serve as a helpful guideline.
What kind of physical condition should I be in?
The weight of your pack is generally 65 pounds. We invite you to check out our Training page
We highly recommend checking with your physician before embarking on strenuous physical activity. We reserve the right to turn away those climbers who we determine to be in inadequate physical condition.
How do I reserve a space for a course?
The best way to reserve space on a course is to call our offices and place the deposit on a VISA/MC/AMEX. Our courses fill quickly on a first-come, first-served basis, and registering over the phone is the best way to ensure reserving the course dates you want. You may also submit an application by mail with a check, money order or credit card number.
When does my course begin and end?
Overview: Climbers attend a mandatory gear on the first morning of the climb at 6:30am and then travel to the mountain. Climbers return to Seattle on last day of the course.
Day 1 of course: Climbers meet at the Alpine Ascents Office at 6:30am for a comprehensive gear check. Alpine Ascents provides transportation to and from Mt. Rainier.
(Climbers are not to drive themselves per NPS regulations)
Last Day of course: Return to the Alpine Ascents Office between 7 - 11PM on the last day of climb.
Note: On day 1 of your course, you must be at our office no later than 6:30am! Please be on time.
Our recommended hotel, the Marqueen Hotel, is located 2 blocks from our office.
When should I fly in and out of Seattle?
We recommend staying overnight the night before the course begins and on the evening of the last day of the course. Because our last course day is a summit day, there are variables that make it difficult to guarantee the exact time each course will end. You will need to be ready to go at 6:30am on the morning your course begins.
Where can I buy flights?
Alpine Ascents uses the services of Charles Mulvehill at Scan East West Travel: 1-800-727-2157 or 206-623 2157. They are very familiar with our Mountaineering School and offer competitive prices on all domestic and international flights. firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I get from the airport to my hotel and downtown Seattle?
From Sea-Tac International Airport to the Marqueen Hotel, or any hotel in downtown Seattle:
Shuttle Express: Airport to Marqueen Hotel or downtown Seattle and return.
Cost: $21.00 (one way depending on number of riders)
The Shuttle Express also has regular service to downtown Seattle and can be easily found via Sea-Tac courtesy phones.
If I am driving to the school and leaving my car for the length of the course, where can I park?
Parking is limited but if you would like to park your vehicle during your course, we can assist in arranging with nearby on street parking.
How do I get to Alpine Ascents International?
Click Here for Map
- From Interstate 5, take the Mercer Street Exit and follow the signs to Seattle Center/Space Needle. (A quick right turn onto Fairview Ave., and a quick left turn onto Valley St., which becomes Broad Street.)
- After you pass the Space Needle on your right, make a right turn onto Denny Way.
- Proceed to 1st Ave. North and turn right.
- Proceed to Mercer Street and turn left.
- We are located at 109 West Mercer Street, directly across the street from
Bank of America and Next Door to Ozzie's Tavern.
Street parking is limited to 2-hour parking meters, though there are several pay lots near our offices.
What kind of experience do I need to take a course?
Our Denali Prep programs are designed for the beginner or intermediate climber wishing to develop strong fundamental skills in all aspects of snow and glacier climbing. For those with little or no experience in the outdoors, we recommend our Backpacking and Wilderness Navigation course.
Where do I stay the night before and after the course?
There are several lodging options for our climbs. We meet at our office on the day of the climb at 6:00am. Alpine Ascents has partnered with our neighbors the Marqueen Hotel– located two blocks from our office. Reservations for your room should be made as soon as possible.
Rates: Reasonable by Seattle standards, vary by season.
If you wish to share a room with another climb participant, The Marqueen can help with those arrangements. You will need a room for the night prior to the start of your climb and for the last night of your climb. The hotels are 2 blocks from the Alpine Ascents office. Extra gear may be stored at the Mediterranean or at our office until your return.
Staying elsewhere in downtown Seattle is another option. During the climbing season, hotels in the Seattle metropolis are difficult to reserve and are a bit more expensive. You may elect to stay in any one of the numerous hotels in the area, but you will be responsible for getting to our offices by 6:00am the morning of your course. We are a short taxi cab ride away from most of the downtown hotels and local equipment shops. After the course, we will return to our offices and you can return to your hotel by taxi at that point. You will need a room for the night prior to the start of your course and for the last night of your course. Please note: Free long-term parking is generally difficult in the vicinity of Alpine Ascents. If you plan to stay in Seattle and have a car, try to arrange a taxi or ride to our offices on the morning of the course. Extra gear may be stored in our office until your return.
What do I need to bring?
When you sign up for a course we will send you a confirmation package that includes an equipment list detailing each piece of equipment you will need. Please read your equipment list very carefully. You are required to bring every item on the list so be as precise as possible when packing. Alpine Ascents rents quality technical equipment at reasonable rates. If you have any equipment-related questions please call us (206-378-1927). You can also email us at: Climb@AlpineAscents.com We have a full-time gear expert on staff.
Is food provided on my climb or course?
Please review the Sample Menu Plan. As part of the curriculum, you are responsible for your own food. Before departing for the trailhead, we will check and organize personal/group gear. Additionally, if necessary we will make one final stop for groceries. However, it is advisable to purchase most of your bulk foods before we meet. If you are staying in Seattle, there are numerous supermarkets as well as the flagship REI, North Face, and Patagonia gear shops for fresh and prepackaged foods.
Where do I pick up my rental gear for the course?
You will pick up your rental gear at our offices during the gear check.
How heavy will my pack be?
Since everyone purchases different gear and is a different size, it is hard to give you an exact number. For most of our courses, you can expect your internal frame pack (packed with gear and food) to weigh between 55 and 65 pounds. It is likely that you will be asked to help carry some of the group equipment such as ropes and protection, so make sure there is some additional room in and on your backpack for approximately 4-8 pounds of gear.
Any tips on packing?
The mountains of the northwest and north coast are heavily glaciated temperate mountains. This means they are subject to highly variable weather conditions.
- Pack everything in two layers of sturdy plastic. (Trash Compactor Bags work the best) Bring one large trash bag to completely and easily cover your pack. You should bring at least 4 bags.
- It is likely that you will be asked to help carry some of the group equipment, so make sure there is some additional room in and on your backpack.
What can I read to prepare for the course?
You will get far more out of your course by reading Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 6th ed., The Mountaineers. This book provides an excellent overview of the elements involved in alpine mountaineering. Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 6 review many of the aspects we will be covering during your training and familiarity with these aspects will greatly enhance your experience.
How many students/instructors are there per class?
All Courses on Mount Rainier have a 4:1 climber to guide ratio and a 2:1 ratio on summit day.
Where is a good, trustworthy store to purchase gear?
Alpine Ascents climbers receive a 10% discount from Moosejaw Mountaineering and 10% from Feathered Friends. See our gear page for links to these and other companies.
I am concerned that the gear I am renting will not fit or work properly.
The boots, packs, crampons, ice axes, tents, and other items are cleaned and checked on a daily basis. Gear is sized at the gear check and changes can be made at that time. All of our gear is of the highest quality. Please note that double plastic boots do not break in.
Is this trip going to be physically challenging?
Yes. See the training tips above, but... Keep in mind that you are climbing a mountain and it is not easy. If you follow our physical fitness tips and do some training on your own, you should complete the course with no problems.
What if I need to leave the course early?
For climbers who need to be escorted from the climb, there is an evacuation fee.