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Mountain Dew

A Grocery List of Dumb Newb Questions!

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Nice elaborations on the theme!

 

Likewise I did road bike racing and still do but never suspected Gatorade would make all the difference in the world on my overall performance. I guess I do now because the performance sucked. It is not surprising Gatorade is now sold at the fast food places.

 

Never tried Citomax, but Emergency tastes awful to me. I do appreciate its scientific formulation and such but seems like it goes overboard.

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OK, here is a list of questions I have about climbing Mount Rainier even though I am years away from attempting it:

 

Thanks for asking. This was covered but I'll reiterate.

 

1. Even though with weather being unpredictable, what is the Best Time of Year (month) to try and make your first climb?

Probably July. As a rule of thumb the earlier the climb, the more snow and colder it will be (to a point). However, the crevases will be more covered so it makes it faster.

2. How many people here attempted their first Mt Rainier climb without a guide service?

I plan to.

3. What are the "Must Have" things that each climber must have with them? (looking for a list of things...boots, water supply, other equipment, How much food and what kind, etc, etc)

In terms of hardware: rope, crampons, ice ax, ice screws, pickets, pully, ascenders, GPS, map, common sense, plenty of food, gels, 2 liters of h20 per day, gaitors, warm boots, down jacket, shell, ect ect.

 

4. Why do people always write that they start the climb from Muir at Midnight or 1am? Why not wait until the sun comes up? Because it takes a long time to get up to the summit, and then back down to high camp or even the car in some cases. Also it is best to climb when things are frozen because the danger of rock fall is decreased.

 

5. What is this registar book I read about...is there a "sign in" book at the top?

Does Rainier have one right now? I know Baker does. Hood doesn't that I know of.

6. What exactly is Altitude sickness?

A cluster of symptoms that come upon some people at certain altitudes, sometimes as low as 9,000 feet. Symptoms include confusion, sickness, extreme H/A, ect, ect.

7. What is "push breathing"?

Forcefully exhaling. This increases the amount of c02 exhaled and makes us breath more purposefully.

8. Are there mandatory classes you must attend before obtaining a climbing permit?

No.

9. What is your list of Newbie Mistakes that you have seen or heard about?

There are many. Carrying too much, carrying too little, having too little experience/too much confidence.

10. What are the chances Jessica Alba will be free to go with me on my first attempt?

0%

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I too have this climb in my sights, and perhaps around the same time-frame as mt dew. However, I would prefer to make it a two day (from Muir) event instead of a single push. Mainly because I *think* I'll have a better chance of success, and I want to look around and actually see what's there to see rather than click it off as a "notch in the belt".

 

So, the questions I have start with:

 

1)where is the next logical camp location above Muir,

 

2) for the life of me, I've not been able yet to figure out which tent I want, don't even have a "proper" short list yet...now I'm even wondering if a bivy would be more applicable. But I think I'd prefer a 4 season tent, and the stouter and lighter, the better in my view. I'm hoping that the REI dividends this year will cover a $400-500 tent.

 

4) I'm somewhat unconvinced that burying stuff sacks or alumnium anchors will allow me to cinch up tent anchors tight enough, but I must be mistaken as I read that this is common. I've thought about trying this in my back yard but it's too flippin' cold for me to get up the ambition to give it a try.

 

5) glad you're "back in the game", mt dew. I though you had bailed, haven't seen anything from you for a couple months now.

 

 

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One of the most important reasons for starting at midnight, besides the length of the climb, is daylight, and weather. The idea is to give yourself the greatest amount of leeway and time possible, for daylight travel. The ground covered by headlamp before dawn is usually not the most technical, from Camp Muir, depending on which route you're doing. By the time you get to the real climbing, it's beginning to get light. Then you should have ample time to get to the summit in good conditions, and before sun softens the slopes too badly. Snow bridges will, or may, still be intact on the way back. Furthermore, you'll be tired on the descent. It's well known that the majority of climbing accidents occur on the descent. So you need every advantage for light and snow conditions as you go down, extra leeway of time.

 

The other reason is that mountain weather being generally unpredictable, nonetheless can be quite predictable locally, under certain conditions of the overall larger weather pattern at the time. Weather is usually far less active at night than during the day due to the lack of sun warming the local atmosphere. A typical summer pattern is for afternoon thundershowers or thunderstorms, usually developing by around 1:00 to 2:00 PM. You want to try as much as possible to summit by 8 or 9 AM at the latest, and back to Muir by noon or 1:00PM, to avoid getting caught in what can be really wild and dangerous on the upper mountain. Believe me, you do NOT want to get caught on the summit or upper slopes of Rainier in a cloud cap; sometimes it's just a visibility whiteout, but it can also be unbelievably violent.

 

Up and back down early is the best. Even in the best of conditions Rainier demands vigilance, preparedness, clear and knowledgeable judgement, experience, fitness, and ability, if you want to stay safe.

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The early start is especially important on the DC or any route that involves climbing beneath rock features- the rockfall danger is always something to which to pay heed, but beginning mid morning it substantially increases depending on temps and cloud cover, and by afternoon places like the traverse on/off the Dis. Cleaver can be a bonafide bowling alley. Also icefall danger in that same area is a serious concern any time of day or night.

 

On the Emmons route rockfall is not an issue, but as noted above the crevasse hazards increase substantially as snowbridges begin to soften, and glopping of snow on crampons combined with fatigue is a hazard best avoided.

 

All the objective hazards notwithstanding, I find slogging in the hot sun on glaciers to be far more fatiguing than getting up early.

 

 

Grandpa- the next and only logical camp above Muir is Ingraham Flats, which is 1-2 hours past Muir. Depending on wind direction the Flats might actually be a tad less windy than Muir as it is somewhat protected from west winds by Cathedral Rocks and Gibraltar Rock. I'm not sure but there may be human waste barrels still being kept there also (I was a ranger on the mountain 1995-1999 and there were barrels back then).

You could get by with a bivi sack if the weather is perfect, but a tent is nicer of course. If the wind/snow comes a bivi will suck. You'll want one with strong guy attachments because in summer the big problem you could face is the wind- I've seen 80+ mph winds at Muir and Schurman in every month of the summer season. If it's windy on your summit day, consider collapsing and stashing your tent while on your summit push- I've seen a lot of climbers return to find their tent long gone or totally shredded.

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...Grandpa- the next and only logical camp above Muir is Ingraham Flats, which is 1-2 hours past Muir.

 

Doesn't seem like much of a "jump" on the day's trek. Is it logical to to hike another 1/2 day or so to a suitable location?

 

...Depending on wind direction the Flats might actually be a tad less windy than Muir as it is somewhat protected from west winds by Cathedral Rocks and Gibraltar Rock.

 

That seems logical

 

...I'm not sure but there may be human waste barrels still being kept there also (I was a ranger on the mountain 1995-1999 and there were barrels back then).

 

Good point, thanks

 

...You could get by with a bivi sack if the weather is perfect, but a tent is nicer of course. If the wind/snow comes a bivi will suck. You'll want one with strong guy attachments because in summer the big problem you could face is the wind- I've seen 80+ mph winds at Muir and Schurman in every month of the summer season. If it's windy on your summit day, consider collapsing and stashing your tent while on your summit push- I've seen a lot of climbers return to find their tent long gone or totally shredded.

 

Yeah, tent it is. I'll take more time if I have to in order to carry the extra weight. Now to decide on which one.

 

Thank you for the advice.

 

 

 

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...Grandpa- the next and only logical camp above Muir is Ingraham Flats, which is 1-2 hours past Muir.

 

Doesn't seem like much of a "jump" on the day's trek. Is it logical to to hike another 1/2 day or so to a suitable location?

 

 

 

 

I have seen people bivi on the top of Disappointment Cleaver, there is a relatively level shelf up there. It is however very exposed not only to wind but it drops off steeply on both sides so you wouldn't want to walk around w/o crampons very far.

 

Also, consider how your second day would go: it would be feasible to hike from Muir to I. Flats during the morning hours as rockfall hazard isn't so bad crossing Cathedral Gap and the Cowlitz is usually pretty safe as far as crevasses go. However that would put you moving up the Cleaver itself during the hot late morning hours. don't forget that another hazard on the DC is climbers above you knocking rocks down on top of you from the Cleaver. Anyway, if you were planning to bivi on top of the Cleaver (ca. 12,000') you would probably want to be leaving Muir very early in the morning. But honestly, I wouldn't bivi above Ingraham Flats. If you can handle getting to Muir in one day (4,600' vert.) then a the summit day from Ingraham Flats will go well.

 

Another option is to climb the Emmons, and after bivying at Schurman, spend day two climbing to about 11,500-12,000' atop the "Corridor": there are really any number of places to bivi up there and that would give you the jump on the summit you were looking for.

 

I think the Emmons is a much more scenic side of the mountain, personally...

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...there is a relatively level shelf up there. It is however very exposed not only to wind but it drops off steeply on both sides so you wouldn't want to walk around w/o crampons very far.

 

Gotcha. Point taken, WELL taken.

 

...However that would put you moving up the Cleaver itself during the hot late morning hours. don't forget that another hazard on the DC is climbers above you knocking rocks down on top of you from the Cleaver.

 

True (according to what I've read), and as I'm not familiar in the least with the area above Camp Muir, this is something I didn't know/consider.

 

...But honestly, I wouldn't bivi above Ingraham Flats. If you can handle getting to Muir in one day (4,600' vert.) then a the summit day from Ingraham Flats will go well.

 

I can do that. My first (and only so far) attempt was in July 2008, and it was sloggy snow the entire route from the parking lot to where I turned back due to incoming weather around 9000'. But I'm slightly better prepared now, and will "keep at it".

 

Another option is to climb the Emmons, ....I think the Emmons is a much more scenic side of the mountain, personally...

 

Thank you, good to know as I've not been to that side yet. I'm soon to retire, so anticipate much more time to explore, and expect not to have to do it in mad dashes from here to there and back.

 

 

 

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Ok, as a "newbie" myself, reading through your questions, I kept coming back to one question myself. Why wouldn't you want to climb with a guide? The things you learn are invaluable. They are lessons that can save your life. My daughter and I just decided to start climbing last year. Here's what we did and how we learned what to buy and what to take with us. We live in the flat lands of Ohio and didn't know anything about climbing. We decided to take on a mountain a little bit smaller then Rainier first, and one that has an easier climb. We chose Mt. Adams. We went with the mentality that it was our recon mission...one in which the summit wasn't important, learning our skills was. We hired a guide for the two of us, instead of going with a bigger group. We wanted to be able to ask as many questions as we had. We spent two days on Adams (no, we didn't summit). He answered a million questions on gear, food, altitude, etc. He took us out on a glacier and taught us various things on how to use our gear, self arrest, etc. We learned what kind of a tent we would prefer, what foods tasted good up high, things that made our packs too heavy, and things we wish we would have brought. We also learned what we had done wrong in our physical training at the gym and what we needed to work on more. We now know what to expect this year. We wouldn't have learned these things without the guide. We also read book after book. I think we own every book on mountaineering that amazon stocks! Knowledge is power. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. After Adams, we went up and spent a few days on Rainier, going up to Muir and hiking around by panarama point. We had beautiful weather and loved every minute on Rainier. Our goal, like yours, is to summit Rainier. We are now training for that. Ok, to make a long story not much longer, remember that you can get a lot of your questions answered on line. Google is a wonderful source for altitude sickness. The various mountain guide services have required gear lists. We researched and bought the majority of our stuff online. We signed up with the various climbing stores emailings and have gotten some great coupons. I don't think we've paid retail for anything. If you'd like more info on the places we buy our stuff, get in touch with me. Again, consider a guide and good luck!

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Ok, as a "newbie" myself, reading through your questions, I kept coming back to one question myself. Why wouldn't you want to climb with a guide?

The pros are as you stated. The cons seem to be a mad 'cattle-drive" dash to the summit for the sake of the title. That interests me not so much. I want to look and see. Just like when I'm out of town on business, I don't have much interest in sitting in the bar after work, but like to go see what and who is where I am. The bar can wait until dinner time.

 

However, I see little possibility of doing this on my own or with a climbing partner the first time. I'm here, and the mountain (and its opportunities) are there. So the $1-2K that I'll spend will be money well spent.

 

 

... We decided to take on a mountain a little bit smaller then Rainier first, and one that has an easier climb. We chose Mt. Adams. We went with the mentality that it was our recon mission...one in which the summit wasn't important, learning our skills was.

 

I've considered this, but Rainier is closer to where I am when I'm out there. But, Adams is "on the list"

 

We hired a guide for the two of us, instead of going with a bigger group.

 

I like that idea, had not thought of it. I could go with that. Thanks.

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grandpa;

remember that in seeking a high camp/bivy site, you will hauling your overnight gear (read: heavier load) higher and longer than if you camp lower and make a longer day push for the summit.This may wear you out more than camping lower and carrying a day pack on the upper reaches of the mountain. Finding that balance is the trick.

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We also wanted to climb at our own pace and not go on the "cattle drive." That's why we hired our own guide. It wasn't as expensive as we'd thought it would be. Again, get in touch with me if you want some good sites for discounted and sale priced gear. rmiguides.com has a good gear list. print it off and go from there. whittakers sells off their rental equipment that is really gently used for great prices.

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In my mind, the most important factor that I didn't see in a scan of the posts above is that you have to have a solid weather window. Bad weather will do bad things to you any time of the year on Rainier. Many people who have tried to make it go when the weather is saying otherwise have paid the ultimate price for their decision. Don't be one of those. If the weather is bad turn around. The mountain will still be there waiting for you.

 

I'm no expert. I've only been up twice, and both times by the Emmons Route, which may be the easiest on the whole mountain. There are fewer people at Schurman and the Emmons Flats, which makes for a nicer mountain experience, and the sunrise is incredible there.

 

On timing, one time we went June 1st and the next time was the third week of June. The advantage of early season is the days are longer and you can move faster because almost all of the crevasses are still sealed shut. Obviously, you need a solid weather window to go for it, but that's the case later anyway. There is no shame in hiring a guide. It's just a question of personal priorities and finances. Being self-guided allows for some of that flexibility in timing to hit the right weather window, which can help in early season.

 

A rope team of three to four is definitely safer than two.

 

I used to get altitude-related nasty headaches, but found that two things prevented them: 1 stay really well hydrated and 2 eliminate sun exposure to skin and eyes (with polarized glasses).

 

Regarding the comment on taking more than one day from Muir, I am not sure that would be worthwhile unless someone is carrying all your gear. Carrying a full pack from 10k to 12.5k is likely to be more tiring than doing a daytrip from 10k to 15k and back again. Spend a rest day at Muir if you want to recover from the climb from Paradise.

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Carrying a full pack from 10k to 12.5k is likely to be more tiring than doing a daytrip from 10k to 15k and back again. Spend a rest day at Muir if you want to recover from the climb from Paradise.

 

:tup:

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Carrying a full pack from 10k to 12.5k is likely to be more tiring than doing a daytrip from 10k to 15k and back again. Spend a rest day at Muir if you want to recover from the climb from Paradise.

 

:tup:

 

Thanks, guys....it's good to hear what the experienced folks already know...

 

 

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Another quick point is that you can leave from paradise at an early time as well that way you can relax up at Muir for a few hours longer. You could easily have 12 hours of rest time up at Muir and still manage a 2 day climb.

 

When going on a guided trip you are buying two things: a summit and safety. While the summit is not guarantied it is placed over "having fun" on their list of priorities. Also with a guide your margin of safety becomes much larger; both during the summit climb and from the learning of technical skills during the pre summit seminars.

 

A guided trip will get any person (as long as you are fit and the weather holds) to the summit. But with a personal trip where you spend a great deal of time preparing and learning everything yourself, well imho you will get more out of that.

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.....But with a personal trip where you spend a great deal of time preparing and learning everything yourself, well imho you will get more out of that.

 

That's the way I figured it, but right now, I don't have the time to do that. I'm 1000+ miles away from the mountains where I could do this in steps, so I'll have to do it however I can. There WILL be a day though....

 

Thanks for the insight.

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You can't underestimate how much you will learn from a guide in one trip. They have spent years learning and gaining experience. You get knowledge and success in most cases while others wallow in inexperience and doubt and don't get either. Good luck.

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Something to try: When I was in my mid teens, I had my dad drop my younger brother and I off at Paradise. The strategy we used was this: we got out of bed from the muir hut when the bulk of other climbers got up. We made sure to keep two parties ahead of us and two parties behind us the whole climb and descent back to muir.

 

Rainier is an awesome mountain that I've gone up many times since. It is the one mountain that weather is the major deal breaker (more than anything within 1,000 miles including Waddington or the Coast Range) I can suffer my way up most peaks in the cascades in storms but Rainier can be a trip to a pine box in a freak serious fall or winter storm.

 

Another strange Rainier note. Some of my seasoned hardman climbing partners love the mountain so much that the bulk of their alpine trips are on Rainier. Oddly, Some of my other cascade partners have acutally never climbed it and have lived in Washington for years and have climbed nearly every other icefall and serious peak in the range yet have really no desire to climb Rainier.

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...Rainier is an awesome mountain that

 

Indeed, it is. I grew up in Oregon, had heard of Rainier all my life, but never had the occasion to actually SEE it until about 6-7 years ago when my son moved out there. When I actually saw it for the first time, it appeared to be "quite a mountain". A year or two later I drove up to Paradise, and no kidding, I was in awe. Still am.

 

... but Rainier can be a trip to a pine box in a freak serious fall or winter storm.

 

In the past 5-6 years I've read a lot about the mountain, the weather, and peopel's experience regarding it, and have gained some knowledge, and great respect for the conditions to be found there. I took my son and two of his cousins up there for a hike to Muir in July of '08. We still talk about the trip even though we turned around at around 8900' due to some clouds moving in over the ridge to the west of us. I wasn't familiar enough with the weather patterns to know whether this was going to be a problem or no, but felt that this was the right move. As it turned out, by the time we made our way back to the bridge over the Nisqually, things had cleared up. But that was fine, we had an excellent time, and I can try again, and again...

 

I really appreciate all the advice and different views of the activity.

 

 

 

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