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Kiwi

RMI, is it any good?

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If you want cheap RMI wait a year and take a mountaineering class or summit climb from oregon state university, the guy who leads the weekend mountaineering trips here is an rmi guide during the climbing season and works here the rest of the year. a 2 day mountaineering class is around $150 (130 for students) and a 3 day rainier climb is around 250 (200 for students). only problem is there is only one rainier climb a year so it is easy to miss the window of good weather (however we didnt even leave corvallis this year so we got our money back) but the non summit classes are once/term (3/year) and go rain or shine.

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Besides what everyone else wrote, RMI doesn't take you to the summit of Rainier. They just take you to the edge of the summit crater. I went with them on my first climb of Rainier in 2000 and despite perfect weather (clear, sunny, nary a breeze) the guides refused to let me hike over to the true summit on the other side of the crater. The head guide claimed that a couple of clients (there were 19 total) were "not doing well" and so he didn't want to wait the 45 min he estimated it would take me round trip. I was very disappointed and went back in 2001 to reach the true summit with friends. RMI tells their clients that the crater's edge is the summit.

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That's funny. I saw five or six RMI clients (out of their group of 8) on the Columbia Crest this year...and if you look through the summit register, there are a number of sign-ins by RMI clients and guides. Someone told me it was RMI's policy to go "to the very summit" if possible, depending on weather, conditions and how folks were feeling.

 

Maybe the guide who led the trip had some more info he wasn't sharing...hard to tell after the fact. Good onya for going back and making it that last 150 feet.

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Forget about rainier if you want to learn anything. Hire a guide for 2-3 days, and have him teach you stuff. You will learn a lot more one-on-one. Read some books beforehand. American Alpine Institute guides are good. There are probably any number of other guides who would do this for you, for slightly less $.

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i would never go out with a guide unless they were actually amga certified. outside of that, everyone else is just trying to be a guide.

 

pro guide service would probably be the best.

 

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i would never go out with a guide unless they were actually amga certified. outside of that, everyone else is just trying to be a guide.

 

While I agree that AMGA certification lets one know that the guide is knowledgable, I would not limit myself to what is still only an up and coming certification. I+No doubt it is the way of the future, but it doesn't gaurantee you anything, except that it will greatly limit you pool to choose from.

 

There are many great guides that are not certified, and will never go that route.

 

2 cents

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Heres another option KIWI.

 

Offer to pay somebody on this climbing board for $150/day to teach you something for 4-5 days. It appears that a lot of these guys on this website are either unemployed or have a lot of time on their hands and wouldn't mind the extra dough. Plus you get 100% personal attention.

 

Downside is that you might get a jerkwad who knows crap and all he wants is your money.

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I was hoping the people on this board would offer to help me out of the kindness of their hearts. cantfocus.gif

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Kiwi said:

I was hoping the people on this board would offer to help me out of the kindness of their hearts. cantfocus.gif

 

Maybe you should drop Capt Caveman a PM, I'm sure he would be stoked to take a gumby out, or trask, I hear he likes that sort of thing too.

 

[/lame humour attempt]

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In the end, it comes down to this. You will get what you pay for. You want to learn for free? Then count on it taking a lot of time (years) and a lot of mistakes. Depending on those mistakes, the learning curve can be sharp. And dangerous.

An analogy is learning to ski or snowboard. You CAN learn on your own. But with instruction you learn faster. With personal instruction you'll learn even faster.

RMI is the second oldest guide service in the country (after Exum in Jackson, Wyoming) and the largest. They were the first to offer expedition seminars, and their model was copied by many other guide services. But keep in mind - RMI operates on Mt. Rainier and Denali. That's it. But their guides have also climbed in every range in the world, for work and for fun. So for glacier travel and high altitude, you can't go wrong with RMI.

Another Guide service I'd like to provide free advertising for: Northwest Mountain School. Located in Leavenworth, NMS offers group rock and alpine courses for teenagers. But over half of their business is providing private or custom adult trips. The owner is AMGA Rock Certified, one of the Program Directors is AMGA Rock and Alpine Certified, and several other guides are working towards certification as well. You can find them on the web at www.mountainschool.com.

Cheers!

bigdrink.gif

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In the end, it comes down to this. You will get what you pay for. You want to learn for free? Then count on it taking a lot of time (years) and a lot of mistakes. Depending on those mistakes, the learning curve can be sharp. And dangerous.

An analogy is learning to ski or snowboard. You CAN learn on your own. But with instruction you learn faster. With personal instruction you'll learn even faster.

 

completely disagree.... i filmed guide groups and you are just cattle. you dont really learn anything pertinent to progressing toward your own self guided trip and that is the opint isn't it? buy a couple sixers and ask a couple friends to take you up and you will be styling and enjoy it way more... thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

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They will get you to the summit ( weather permitting) but you will do minimal thinking for yourself, lotta money

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The problem with RMI is that they effectively have a monopoly, which means that they don't have to be customer service oriented and they can charge excessive rates. If you want to increase the quality of the Rainier experience they should allow other qualified, established guide evils3d.gif services access to the mountain. RMI would be forced to offer more competitive pricing and improve their services. Additionally, you can't expect to learn anything on a summit bid with RMI with a 8 to 1 ratio. Plus the objective of a Rainier climb is not instruction but to summit. The goal is to summit. If you want to learn something enroll in course with a competent guide service. While there a lot of great guides out there that are not AMGA (the majority), at least with the AMGA you can have more confidence given the rigorous certification process required.

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I went last week with RMI on the Climb for Clean Air. BTW raised over $4000 for the American Lung Association of WA. I found the guides to be very courteous and knowledgable. Granted most of the people on the climb were there to be led up the mountain, yet the guides were very willing to answer questions and in my mind were in a teaching mode the entire time. The guide I was roped with realized my friend and I were strong enough to take us off the boot track and head off away from the crowds. We gained the crater rim on the north rather than the usual east side. I think, like most things in life, you'll get out of an experience what you are willing to put into it. My $0.02.

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Kiwi,

 

I have participated in two RMI seminars. Once was a weekend (3-day) summit climb. The other was a 5-day "Camp Muir Seminar" with summit attempt. The first time we got to 13k before turning around due to high winds. The second time we turned around at Cathedral Gap (below 11k) due to avalanche hazard.

 

I have also done a three-day privately guided climb with a senior RMI guide, on Mount Baker.

 

Overall, I found the RMI guides (both the senior and junior guides) to be very knowledgeable, friendly, and competent.

 

You asked if RMI is "touristy". Depends on what you mean. A lot of the clients (perhaps the majority on any given trip) are from out-of-town, and do not have much (or any) experience climbing in the Cascades. So the guides do a lot fo storytelling for the benefit of the clients, who generally seem to love that stuff. The guides spend a lot of time answering very basic questions for the clients (What should I wear? How do I keep my boots from hurting?) But I think that says a lot more about the typical clients than it does about the guides. If anything, my experience is that guiding for RMI seems to require an extraordinary amount of patience on the part of the guides. The RMI climbs weren't "touristy" in the sense of being a totally artificial, manufactured experience. Certainly most clients come away feeling like it wasn't "touristy". The clients are climbing a real mountain and the guides cannot control all variables (weather, icefall, etc). *However* I found that there was a certain degree of artificiality to the experience, in part because you are typically following a foot-deep bootpack all the way to the summit; very little "improvisation" in terms of routefinding is required for the standard D.C. route during the high "season". The guides have the route "dialed in" and use ladders, fixed ropes, etc. where necessary.

 

If you wish to learn mountaineering skills, I would strongly recommend against the 3-day summit climb. The 3-day summit climb gives you a "crash course" in self-arresting and roped glacier travel, and that is about it. In contrast, the 5-day seminar (and the expedition seminar, I've heard) covers much more material, including basic crevasse rescue, basic snow/ice anchors, rappelling, cramponing techniques, serac (ice) climbing on top-rope, etc. The 5-day seminar was great because we had evening lectures in the Camp Muir hut covering all sorts of topics (avalanche awareness, glaciology, mountain weather, etc.). The days were devoted to "field work" out on the Muir Snowfield or the Cowlitz Glacier. I have also heard good things about the Expedition Seminar, which would presumably include a bunch of other skills related to snow/glacier camping.

 

RMI is somewhat expensive, given the client-to-guide ratio. If you don't have your heart set on Rainier, you might investigate some less expensive alternatives, such as Northwest Mountain Guides (www.gotrek.com), North Cascade Mountain Guides (www.ncmountainguides.com), or the American Alpine Institute (www.aai.cc). I have been a client with all three guide services, and all of them were great. If you can find a buddy, you can probably put together a privately guided trip on Mount Baker, for example, for not much more (or possibly less) than RMI charges. With private guiding, you can learn a lot faster and cover more material in a single expedition. Looking back, I learned more from the privately guided outings that I have arranged than from the non-private trips.

 

Climbing "independent" (no guide) with a more experienced friend is also a great option. In practice it is sometimes hard for beginners to find more experienced climbing partners, but if you can hook up with some experienced partners, this can be a great way to learn. The majority of the guides I have met, got their start by climbing with more experienced friends and partners, rather than by using a guide service. Obviously, this method can require more persistance and time in order to work.

 

Guided climbing, and RMI in particular, seem to get a lot of flack on CC.com. But it can be a great way to learn stuff, especially a privately guided trip. Just make sure you shop around.

 

Anyhow, good luck and I hope you have a great time on the big "R".

 

-Steve

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Stephen_Ramsey said:

Climbing "independent" (no guide) with a more experienced friend is also a great option. In practice it is sometimes hard for beginners to find more experienced climbing partners, but if you can hook up with some experienced partners, this can be a great way to learn. The majority of the guides I have met, got their start by climbing with more experienced friends and partners, rather than by using a guide service. Obviously, this method can require more persistance and time in order to work

Thanks for the info.

 

This was the route I decided to go: find a climbing partner while waiting for next year to begin formal classes. That's the biggest reason I joined this website. However, it's been tough trying to find someone willing to take an absolute newb up the mountain with them.

 

RMI and other classes offered in the summer were too expensive and conflicted with my work schedule. I thought it would behoove me to show a bit of patience and wait till the next season starts to begin classes. So I plan on taking the BOEALPS beginning class. I've heard only positive things about them, and I work for Boeing.

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They were the first to offer expedition seminars

 

Actually I am fairly sure that NOLS started that approach long before anyone else....correct?

 

Of course one might say that NOLS is a school, versus a guide service, but when you are talking about a guide service offering a school style class...what's the difference?

 

bigdrink.gif

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Going with some club, somewhere, is probably the most important thing. None of us will take you, frankly, because we don't know you. We don't know what kind of shape you're in, we don't know how old you are, we don't know whether we can stand walking/talking with you for hours or days... When you go with a group or a club, you will meet people in person, and they will be able to answer those questions for themselves in short order. After that, if you pass the fitness/pleasantness test, you will find it much easier to find people to show you the ropes, literally.

 

University Alpine Clubs are good places to meet people. BOEALPS might be too. Good luck.

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Stephen_Ramsey said:

I have also done a three-day privately guided climb with a senior RMI guide, on Mount Baker.

Sorry to dredge up an old thread, but for the sake of the USFS people who have apparently been reading (and misunderstood) this post, I would like to clarify: the guide possessed a valid permit (or concession, whatever you call it) from the USFS to guide on the north side of Baker. I can provide more information (names, dates, etc.) if contacted by private message.

 

Thanks,

Steve

Edited by Stephen_Ramsey

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