Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
kcclimber3

Acclimatization on Rainier

Recommended Posts

I have read that one should gain approx. 1000'/day for proper acclimatization. Since a lot of the approaches require a single day hike to either Muir or Shurman ie; 4-6K gain in elevation, how quickly does or can one acclimatize during a 2-3 day trip to the summit? Is there anything you can do to help the process or minimize the chance of altitude sickness?

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeez, well...literature may state this, but I've yet to meet a person who acclimated that way on Rainier.

 

Most people, who climb the Ingraham Direct, Disappointment Cleaver, etc, grunt their way up to Camp Muir the first day. If a person is fit enough to attempt Rainier in general, I believe that this is a reasonable goal. If this turns out to be too difficult, then the chances of a successful climb need to be in serious question.

 

For a new Rainier climber, I'd suggest this: leave early the first day, before the sun is baking, and the snow is soft. Eat lots, drink lots, and take your time. It's not a race. Once at Muir, continue with hydration, and be vigilant about it. Take foods that sound good. Often, at altitude, the appetite goes sour. It's ideal to take high carbo foods and some protein, but if the only thing you can choke down is Snickers bars, do it.

 

Have your pack and water ready the night before, so all you have to do is get up, eat/drink, pee, rope up, and walk. Drink and eat on the way up, even if it doesn't feel good.

 

If you don't feel strong the morning of the start, sit in camp and soak up the sun, and rest. This is the benefit of giving yourself a good, three day window on the mountain. You can relax, and let your body adjust a bit. It sounds like a lot to summit and descend to the car in one day, but most people are able to do it, especially with the prospect of fresh food, and their favorite cold fermented beverage waiting for them down below.

 

Most of all, have fun. And don't be afraid to tackle a smaller, yet equally beautiful mountain such as Baker if you're unsure of the altitude factor. Also, if you're unsure of your ability to climb Rainier, but still want to give it a shot, hire a reputable guide.

 

When I lived in the Midwest, I fantasized about summiting Rainier, and it took me the third try to get it. Then, I discovered what all the other mountains in the Cascades have to offer. Keep an open mind; there's a lot to do out here!

 

Cheers, and have a great time.

 

Chad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There has been lots of literature recommending the slow ascent at 1000' or even 500' per day as a way to avoid alititude illness. I believe the most successful (in terms of getting clients to the top) guide service on Mount McKinley used to approximate something like that (maybe still does - I don't know) but, yes, very few people are going to have nine days to get from Pardise to the summit of Mount Rainier.

 

However, I think more time is better and I have heard Mike Gautier say that parties who plan for an extra night at the high camp - that is "resting" for a full 24-hours-plus before they start the summit climb - have a greater rate of success than those who do not. For sure, though, you want to start early on the first day if you are heading up for the two day weekend. This will allow maximum time to rehydrate and rest before starting the summit climb.

 

I know in my case the most enjoyable climbs of Mount Rainier all were on a three or four day itinerary (even five) rather than a two day.

 

There are some who advocate a one-day push to get up and down Mount Rainier quickly and feel this minimzes exposure to altitude in the first place, thereby reducing symptoms. I guess I'm just not that much of a marathon runner. Also, I think the mountain is pretty cool and I don't mind spending time on its flanks. You can easily make intermediate camps if you are so inclined, or simply hike up to a standard high camp and spend a day poking around.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "1000 ft/day" recommendation doesn't apply to the altitude you reach climbing each day. The recommendation is that once you get over 10,000 feet you shouldn't increase the SLEEPING elevation by more than 1000-1500 feeet per night. You can climb higher than that during the day but, in an ideal world, one would come down a bit and would not increase the sleeping elevation by huge amounts each day. The reality is, as the others have mentioned, that most mountains or places where people trek at altitude don't easily lend themselves to applying this rule.

 

If you're concerned about your ability to acclimatize, taking an extra day at Muir is a great idea. You could also consider taking Diamox (Acetazolamide) during your ascent.... either 125 mg or 250 mg twice a day until you start coming down. Multiple studies have shown it is effective at decreasing the incidence of acute mountain sickness. It's not foolproof but can work well in most people. It's also a pretty well-tolerated medication.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i've never been to the top of rainier and not felt lie canned shit - but that's the joy of alpine style! sea level to 14000 in 24 hrs is just tough - b-17 pilots musta just hated life

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few things:

 

If you can, sleep at the trailhead (Paradise or WR) the night before the climb, and maybe make a hike w/o packs up 1000' and pack down, to aid acclimatization and sleeping.

 

Definitely start very early for Muir/Shurman. Snow will be in much better shape, meaning less energy expended. You will get up to Muir/Shurman sooner, getting you a good spot if that is an issue, and giving you a full day to hydrate and relax. But the big reason for the early start is that you won't be exposed to so much heat. I have seen many times people taken out by the mix of altitude, exertion and heat. Avoid that and go early, and go slow.

 

As far as the diamox, a lot of people feel it's better to not take it. If you are allergic to sulfa drugs, definitely don't take it. Do some research and make your own choice. If you do choose to take it, break the 250mg tabs into 1/4s, which you can either take once before sleep, or 2x a day, in the am and at night. It's generally agreed that you'll get the same acclimatization benefits with the lower dose, with less of the diuretic effects.

 

An additional day at camp is always a good idea. You can also go for a short climb up the route that morning, to aid in acclimatization and to make the start of the next day more known.

 

Have fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×