Mt Rainier
Getting Started on Mt Rainier involves first off involves gettng there. The mountain is located in the US State of Washington. The mountain is part of the U.S. National Park System and is accessed by wonderfully maintained roads in just about every direction. Most climbers use the routes on the south and west side of the mountain, and are approached from either Seattle or Portland through the Nisqually entrance in the southwest corner of the National Park. It is the only entrance that is open all year round. Other entrances close down for the winter. For more information on all the approaches a good map of the area would be your best bet.

Climbing Mt Rainier is a serious undertaking, and one should make careful plans before taking on such an adventure. First off, you want to make sure you are in excellent condition for the climb. Many consider the peak to be the endurance climb of the lower 48, and you will gain over 9,000 vertical feet of elevation from most starting points. For suggestions on getting in shape, see our page on Conditioning.
Next, you need to pick the time of year you want to climb. Most people climb the peak anywhere from mid June through August. Other times of the year can involve some very serious weather, and unless you are an expert mountaineer when it comes to extreme conditions, I would suggest that you plan your trip during the above mentioned months (and this rule out you coming into very harsh conditions during the spring and summer months). Some climbing parties, in early July 2010, experienced 100 mph winds on the summit just a couple of days before we hit the summit. But running into extreme weather is less likely if you go during the typical climbing season.

Then after selecting the time of year for your climb, you will want to keep a close watch on weather and avalanche conditions. If it looks bad, then move your date (if possible). If it is not possible to adjust your date and things are bad, then you should abandon the climb. Weather on Mt Rainier can be very unforgiving and several lives have been lost due to this very important factor.
When the day finally arrives for your climb, you will need to go to the Climbing Information Building shown at the top of this page and sign in for your climb if you do it last minute like we did. You will also need a summit pass that cost $30.00 per person as of July 2010.

The pass is good for one year, so if you don't make it on your first attempt, you could regroup, and give it a shot on another day and still be good on your permit. You can also make reservatioins at any of the wilderness information centers located throughout the Park, or make them in advance by calling in for an additional fee. The number is as follows 360-569-2211 extension 6009.

Fees help pay for the climbing rangers, waste removal, and a variety of other services. Camps have certain quotas so if a location such as Camp Muir that is used by most climbers is full, you will be asked to select another route or come back later. Climbing during mid week will give you a much better chance of getting the route you prefer. The photo above left, shows two climbers signing in at the "Climbers Information Center." Signing in, and later on signing out, is also for safety reasons. This is a precaution just in case something goes wrong on the mountain. They know who you are, emergency numbers for loved ones, and most importantly, they know the approximate route you will be on.
Lastly before beginning your climb it is a good idea to go over all your equipment and make sure you have not forgot anything. As mentioned above, climbing Mt Rainier is a very serious undertaking, and not to be taken lightly. Inexperience, or forgetting a crucial item of gear can cost you your life.

Experience with ice ax, crampons, glacier travel, crevasse rescue, rope handling, and many other skills are a must on Mt Rainier. Most people that climb the peak use a guide service, and this is a great way to experience the mountain if you lack in any of these areas. But even then, you need to be in excellent physical condition, and have experience with an ice ax and crampons at the very least.

The National Park publishes a list of equipment for Mt Rainier and other Cascade peaks as listed below:

Full-Frame Crampons Food Flashlight
Ice Ax Hard Hat Headlamp
Lug-Soled Boots Carabiners (2) Map and Compass
Sun Glasses / Goggles Mittens and Gloves Pitons, Ice Screws
Wool or Synthetic Clothing Prussik Slings (3) Rescue Pulleys
First Aid Kit Ensolite Pad Stove and Fuel
Down Clothing w/Shell Ascenderes (2) Wands
Waterproof Shell Rope 7/16" X 120 Ft Tent
Sunscreen Sleeping Bag  
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