8-Day Course Day-to-Day Itinerary
*This itinerary is subject to change due to weather conditions
Day 1: Early Morning Gear check in our Seattle office. This will include a thorough check of all personal equipment, food, & group gear necessary for the program. There will be an opportunity to purchase additional food items as well as coordinate which climbers will be paired in tents. After checking all items, we pack up & then drive to White River Camp Ground, (elevation 4,400 feet) 2.5 hours. From here we hike through the forest for 4 hours to Glacier Basin where we will set up Camp for the night. Along the way we will have several great vantage points to view the climbing route & summit of Mt. Rainier. We focus on how to establish a protected camp, how to properly construct a tent platform, how to build snow walls around your camp, and how to properly secure your tent. We will have an evening lecture and cover topics including: Map and compass navigation, knots, mountain safety, equipment overview and prussiking. Camp at Glacier Basin. (6,000 feet)
Day 2: We begin with snow school where 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. Students will then demonstrate and practice all positions of self arrest with the ice axe. We will then have a brief introduction to rope travel as well as proper ice axe and crampon use for rope travel on a glacier. We then rope up & ascend the Inner glacier then climb over a ridge (through St. Elmo’s pass) to the Winthrop Glacier and establish camp. During this ascent instructions will be given on route finding through crevasse fields, mountain safety awareness and proper glacier travel.
Day 3: This day we spend considerable time learning to properly construct snow & ice anchors for varying glacier conditions (snow pickets, bollards, dead man, ice screws), as well as proper equalization of anchors. We discuss then practice anchor placements and technical rope climbing instruction for ascending steep snow slopes. We learn to lead climb, belay, rappel, and to ascend & descend fixed lines. We learn how to use our avalanche transceivers & do a practice search.
Day 4: Crevasse Rescue day. Climbers will participate and perform all aspects of crevasse rescue. This will include climbers demonstrating that they can efficiently perform self rescue (ascending a vertical line using prussiks to get out of a crevasse) as well as team rescue. Team rescue will cover the “C” & “Z” pulley systems, as well as a system with 6:1 mechanical advantage. Students will have the opportunity to participate in all scenarios & direct the rescue as well as assist other climbers who are directing the scenario. This is a full day spent training to make sure you have a good working knowledge of this safety skill.
Day 5: Ice climbing. This day we will practice on seracs (glacier ice towers & walls) and learn the techniques necessary for ice climbing efficiently. Ice anchors and belays are demonstrated and practiced. Climbers will be able to challenge steep ice using two ice tools in addition to their crampons. This is often a favorite day for most students as there are many fantastic photo opportunities on the seracs. Camp on Winthrop Glacier just below Camp Schurman (9,400 feet).
Day 6: Advanced Glacier Work & move camp to Camp Shurman. Ascending to Camp Shurman will require negotiating cravasses as well as challenging route finding along the way. We may cross several snow bridges, step over narrow crevasses, as we climb the Winthrop Glacier. Upon arriving at Camp Shurman we discuss the plan for the following days’ summit attempt, and go to bed early in preparation for an early morning start. Additional guides will join us this evening for the summit team.
Day 7:Summit Day! We depart around midnight to 1 AM. The entire climb is on glaciers until we hit the crater rim. This 4500 ft summit day is challenging as we move through large crevasse fields often crossing deep crevasses and climbing up steep snow slopes. Snow and ice anchors will be placed when necessary for safety. We hope to reach the crater rim shortly after sunrise, where we will travel for another 30 minutes to Columbia Crest, the true summit of Mount Rainier. Several short rest brakes will be taken along the summit route as we ascend the mountain. After summiting we descend to our high camp to spend the night.
Day 8:We pack up our camp and descend down the Inner Glacier. If conditions are appropriate we may glissade portions of the Inner Glacier which is a fun & easy to descend. We reach Glacier Basin Camp and take a rest before continuing on to White River Camp where the Van is parked. After changing into our street shoes we dive back to Seattle for a evening of celebration and dinner.
This is an extremely rigorous seven days and being in strong physical condition is mandatory. Please note, the guide retains the right, at any point, to determine whether a climber is sufficiently fit to continue the climb.