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mts4602

Rainier without a guide

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This actually is a serious question and I don't know whether I will get a "your crazy" response or not.

 

I'd like to climb Rainier via the DC route but I've never done something comparable to this (i.e. glacier travel, alpine climbing). I realize you have no idea of what my skill level is or that of climbers I would take with me. All I can say is that I am an avid backpacker with basic rope knowledge and I study "Freedom of the Hills" like it's my bible.

 

The only reason I ask is because I was on another forum where someone asked about climbing Rainier with a guide service and they had similar skill sets. People on the board told them they should think about not using a guide service because it would probably be a waste of their money.

 

Thanks,

 

Matt

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just do some easier glacier routes, like Coleman-Deming on Baker or something. Then if you feel comfortable and ready climb Rainier. If you do one of the easier routes its just like a long hike with a few more hazards, that you should be prepared to deal with. If you are smart and check the weather, go prepared but not too heavy, and know how to haul you or your partners ass out of a crevasse... you are good to go.

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there might not be a choice os to have a guide or not. Chances are their trips are full already anyway.

 

what Marc said plus add the skill of self arrest well on 25 degree slopes. Plus personal maintenance (hydration, food, temp control, sun protection- backpackers prolly know this already) and good glacier camping skills.

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This question has been asked numerous times, and the best answer I've seen is get up when everybody else gets up (god-awful early),and try to leave after two guided groups and ahead of a couple guided groups. The guides will have a nice route picked out that should be "safe". You'll certainly want to practice your self rescue techniques, you can anchor off a post or doorknob and practice pulley set-ups.

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Mt Rainier, in perfect conditions, is not that hard of a climb. It requires very good endurance, and a little rope management, but people have simply followed up a guided rope team for ages and successfully summited. I know of several people who have done this, solo, and they have no skill at all. I consider them lucky.

 

And therein lies the problem; simply following a guided service. Doing this in good conditions gives a false sense of competence as one can now claim "I climbed Rainier" without really knowing anything about climbing. It leads to mistakes on much smaller peaks that don't have a boot track leading up to the top.

 

If you think your skills are competent, you shouldn't need to ask this question to a bunch of strangers. If you are looking for validation, then maybe you aren't prepared as you think? No one else can really say whether you are competent or not to climb Rainier. You need to make that determination.

 

And how to make that? Definitely not under a perfect blue-sky, boot-tracked, ladder-placed ascent of Rainier. Ask yourself, if there was no one else on the mountain, would/could you do it? Because if you are caught in a white-out, then your team is alone. Ask yourself, if there is no one else on the mountain and no boot track (which can easily be obliterated by a little falling/blowing snow the night before), can you navigate your way up? If one of the party goes in a crevasse, can you get him out? If someone slips and breaks a leg, can you get him down? If you feel like you can do all these things, then you don't need to be here asking if you can do it. Just go do it. You should not be counting on the fact that there are other people there to make up your lack of skills.

 

If you can't do all that, or wouldn't even contemplate climbing if there was no one else on the mountain, please learn some skills to be self-sufficient, or take a guide. I would hate to read about you in the paper because a white-out rolled in, and you walked down the Cowlitz and ended up in a crevasse.

 

If your whole goal is "to climb Rainier",then no one can stop you from following up a guide and decieving yourself that you are a real mountainer. However, if your goal is to become a climber and be competent where other people look to you for guidance, then start smaller and become that person. Make Rainier your goal for next year. This year do Hood, Adams, Baker and any other climbs. Learn navigation, self arrest, crevasse rescue.

 

Hope this helps answer your question.

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I agree. Be honest with yourself about this one. If you take the time to learn the skills neccesary to be self-suffient, I reckon you'd have over all a richer experience.

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Go rent/buy the movie Vertical Limit. (Unless you already own it) Now, pay attention here. Do the EXACT opposite of what everyone does/says (except ed viesturs) Now, watch it again. Keep watching until you feel like you might vomit. (could be the first time) O.K. Once this is completed, you are ready to climb Rainier without a guide. Boom. Shazam. You're ready, now go.

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Go rent/buy the movie Vertical Limit. (Unless you already own it) Now, pay attention here. Do the EXACT opposite of what everyone does/says (except ed viesturs) Now, watch it again. Keep watching until you feel like you might vomit. (could be the first time) O.K. Once this is completed, you are ready to climb Rainier without a guide. Boom. Shazam. You're ready, now go.

 

I don't know man - i'd bring some Nitroglycerin JUST in case...

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How much winter backpacking have you done? If you've never camped on snow before you should at the very least find a snowfield and camp on it. Little things like extra fuel consumption and how to setup a tent on snow that collapses under your weight quickly become evident and allow you to plan better. You can also use the time to practice snow/glacier travel, crevasse rescue, etc...

 

Adams is a good place to practice. Pack up to lunch counter and you can practice self arresting on the slope to the false summit where the run out would just be to your camp, practice placing some snow anchors, etc...

 

If no one in your group has much alpine experience I would recommend going as a group to do Adams and then Baker before doing Rainier.

 

Also needtoclimb's mention of whiteouts is a good point. As an avid backpacker I'm assuming you've been locked in my clouds or fog up high at some point to the point that navigation was impossible, and maybe their isn't really a trail. Now imagine being someplace that you can't just lay down and wait it out or pitch camp. You need to make sure you can navigate in a whiteout. You mention Freedom of the Hills, but maybe you should also look at Alpine Climbing: Techniques to take you higher. It will give you some additional technical explanations as well as snippets of experience, and has a section on navigating in whiteouts.

Edited by gyro

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This actually is a serious question .....I'd like to climb Rainier via the DC route but I've never done something comparable to this (i.e. glacier travel, alpine climbing).

Matt

 

Hey Matt,

 

I'll give you a serious answer.

 

A guy named Jim comes to mind, hiking boots, blue jeans and a cowboy hat I met on top of DC. Windy, cold day and he should have never left Muir with the gear he had in those conditons. His party had dumped him there on top DC at the flat. Same place RMI use to dump the stragglers and pick them up on the way back down.

 

And where real climbing skills are then needed to get to the summit and down safely with no more cow path to follow.

 

Anyway the guy was in rough shape. We gave him something to eat and drink, a warm jacket, And he ended up summiting with us. Better than his other option which was to attempt to get off DC on his own. The guy was a little freaked when we ran into him and rightfully so.

 

My point? Rainier on a good day can be "easy". You can see the crevasses and there is a literal cow path up DC that is hard to fall down in let alone get out of. On a bad day Rainier can hand anyone their ass with crevasses, weather, wind and altitude.

It is not a mountain to take lightly in any month. Self arrest, crevasse rescue, altitude experience and winter navigation skills are mandatory if you are going on your own imo.

 

Good suggestions on doing other peaks first...Hood, St Helens this time of year, Baker, Shasta and Adams use to be the right of passage to Rainier and with good reason.

 

Rainier is not Mt Whitney or any 14K peak in Colorado. But both are good places to climb/hike before doing Rainier. Just not the only places. Rainier is a BIG and heavy glaciated mtn. Reading a book is a good start to a climbing education. By simply asking the question, "can I do Rainier without a guide" tells me you have no business on the mt above 10K feet by yourself.

 

Pays to remember, guides, clients and some good climbers have all been killed on DC for all sorts of reasons. The mtn will still be there when you are ready.

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Agree with most here and want to emphasize on the skills needed since your experience seems vague - "avid backpacker with rope knowledge"

 

It doesn't matter if you can setup a Z-pulley if you are fumbly-mcgee with crampons and haven't used an axe much - AMS'd at 14K walking down on ice above gaping crevasses is not the place to learn french technique.

 

Build these basic skills, especially good footwork, and you won't ever have to use the famed and legendary self-arrest.

 

And yes, just be honest with yourself and your skills.

 

 

 

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Try to find a more experienced climber to show you the ropes if

you can, Read every thing you can find on how to climb and climbing stories. Read the trip reports, look at what other climbers are wearing. Go only in good weather forecasts, the mountain, ANY mountain is king in bad weather. You must do the alpine start, this is up and going by 2am at least on most big mountains on summit day. The reason being is firm snow is safe snow and cold snow and ice means less stuff falling on your head, this gives you plenty of extra daylight time and time to get down before the snow gets super soft and things start to fall on your head.

 

Start out small, do lesser mountains, get a partner.

 

First day out or trip out a new person should not climb

a mountain look at what the guide services do. They teach the

clients how to tie together, to walk on steeper ice using french technique, How to extract out of a crevase, do you have a set of

prussiks yet in order to self extract out of a cravase? have your practice this skill yet?

 

Have you got on a steep snow hill with a safe run out and practice

self arrest? You can self arrest with a ice axe, with a ski pole(place the pole in a arm pit and roll your weight on it) and

with your hands and body alone, cup your hands at your face , dig

in elbows and toes. Should practice all three ways of self arrest from all types of fall down positions and should be able to run and

jump into a slide and then go into a self arrest.

 

Be careful on any Glassade, no crampons and the way to stop is to

roll on your belly and go into self arrest if you can't slow down

other wise. (The cute dig the shaft of the ice axe photo does not

work if you really get going.)

 

Understand, two big dangers of snow. One is steep ice, the other

is snow melted out to consistency of a soft ice slerpy. On ice

it is hard to get your ice axe pick and front crampon toes in to the ice fast enough, the key is to act quick to self arrest. In soft slerpy snow, the key is to act quickly and get your toes in hard and fast. Best to keep your shaft end of your ice axe in deep at all times in any steep or questionable snow, this is your first self belay.

 

On the rope team, most experienced person in front going up, in

the rear going down. Why? If going up the lead guy falls and slides past the guy past him, most likely, both will fall. If

going down the rear guy falls the guy in front most certainly can't

hold them. Sometimes solo is better than being roped up, but on

a glacier or placing pro you rope up. A lot of people feel better

roped up, but it can be a false sense of security. You want the

strongest person in the position of where they can't afford to fall and who is good at quick self arrest. (Keep no slack in the rope between climbers.)

 

Start small and build up, there are countless climbs fun to do, books in the climbing shops.

 

Dan

 

 

Edited by DanO

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Of all the advice in this thread I think this is the best and most appropriate course of action.

 

Go rent/buy the movie Vertical Limit. (Unless you already own it) Now, pay attention here. Do the EXACT opposite of what everyone does/says (except ed viesturs) Now, watch it again. Keep watching until you feel like you might vomit. (could be the first time) O.K. Once this is completed, you are ready to climb Rainier without a guide. Boom. Shazam. You're ready, now go.

 

Eiger Sanction is the one to watch to become a true hardman though.

 

 

If you thought you were ready you wouldn't be here asking if other people think you're ready. Listen to that voice in your head. It will keep you alive. Memorizing freedom of the hills and reading TRs until 3 in the morning doesn't constitute experience. Of course you knew all of this all ready.

 

 

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High Ice should definately be viewed for instruction on what to do during a helicopter rescue.

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Matt,

Good on ya for wanting to head up into the mountains. My suggestion is to look into the mountaineers, or enrole in a Basic Mountaineering class. Some Mountain Rescue units teach these, as well as some community colleges.

 

(That is assuming you are somewhat local to the area)

 

Other than that, don't rush yourself, sure there are tales of people hiking to the top under a bluebird sky, but just as easilly, seriously experienced climbers die up there on relatively tame routes.

 

Try to tag along with some more experienced climbers on anything they care to drag you up, and glean as much information from them as you can regarding ropework, routefinding, weather, and avalanches. In my seriously jaded opinion, nobody without knowledge of mountain skills, has any business being up there.

 

IF YOU INSIST ON HEADING UP WITHOUT THIS KNOWLEDGE, DRESS IN BRIGHT COLORS, AND TALK TO EVERYONE YOU SEE. ATLEAST THIS WILL HELP RESCUERS FIND YOU OR YOUR BODY EASIER.

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Matt:

I agree with most of the advice above - they are not trying to scare you, but good survival skills on a glacier are very necessary. Just to get a feel for the mountain, and see all the folks coming and going from Camp Muir - try the Muir hike up to 10,000ft a couple of times with a 40lb pack. A few trips for fitness training, boots/clothing, navigation and some exposure to glaciers would be a good way to assess your feel for the mountain. Trust me Luke -

:yoda:

James

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Being a new climber also (I did Adams last summer as my first), I don't know why you'd want your first climb to be without a guide. We hired a guide to do Adams, because we wanted to learn. In my opinion, you're cheating yourself out of learning tons of valuable information on climbing and on climbing safely. I'm planning on attempting Rainier next July and am looking forward all we'll learn from the guide. It makes the experience so much better when you have someone that knows the ropes, will do everything to keep you safe, and will answer the million and one questions that you have. I also agree with trying Adams or Baker first. One last opinion since I'm a Medic...don't be stupid and get in something over your head. Stop and realize that if you get into trouble on the mountain, you're also putting other peoples lives in danger by having to come and save your ass. Lots of people don't stop to think about that. My vote...hire a guide.

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If you don't go with a guide you should at least take a class with a reputable organization.

 

There are a good number of skills that will make your time in the mountains much more enjoyable and safe. You can read about all these skills, but actually practicing them under an instructor's eye will ensure you're doing it right.

 

I see a lot of people in the mountains 'doing it' but 90% of them are giving up efficiency because they have poor technique or they are being unsafe because they haven't really thought it through or haven't been shown a better way.

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don't hire guide find some more experienced friends to teach you climbing the glaciers... much more rewarding for both parties. Guide services charge too much for skills you should be able to learn on your own

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agreed with jonesy above that well experienced friends are the best way to do & often the guides charge a little high and/or want you to enroll in a 99 day course when you could easily do the climb in 2 days ( or 1 if you believe everything you read & can live of GU gels)

 

But I will say this... I've been climbing for a while, my first real mountain a few years back I summited fine solo with no real training/experience, been bulding experince since; now no way do I consider to be expert but maybe semi-experienced at best

 

 

Anyways, I never ever wanted a guide, I am male so probably a hit to my ego right? Untill 1 day last year I was up in Boston and had a free day to go up to New Hampshire & wanted to climb some ice they have there ( short little class 4 right on the US302 road), but was midweek and I didn't have a partner available :( and I knew it just was not a good idea to climb that unfamiliar route solo. So I paid the guide his $$$ for a one day one on one on the ice cliff. Honestly I learned more in that one session that I probably would have learned in 100 climbs without, little things about technique, little things about snow/ice science blah blah blah...I was very happy with the experience :) I tiped the guy well, gave him a few beers at the trailhead & am planning to hire him for one day again next march when I'll be back up there

 

Anyways, these guides are experts and if you can afford it is worth it. I just personally think two or maybee three - one is the biggest the ratio should be! but of course I know that comes with a price

 

 

Best of luck

 

 

 

 

BTW, on a totally separate note does anybody know any guide service does a 2 dayer on Suhksan sulphide... I saw a group doing a course up there when I went for a solo walk upto the base of sulphide a few weeks back, but I can't seem to find anything other that a 4-5 day that must be fisher chimneys

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BTW, on a totally separate note does anybody know any guide service does a 2 dayer on Suhksan sulphide... I saw a group doing a course up there when I went for a solo walk upto the base of sulphide a few weeks back, but I can't seem to find anything other that a 4-5 day that must be fisher chimneys

 

RMI does some Sulphide Shuksan. I think they do a 3-4, but the first few days are the "how not to kill yourself" days.

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yeah kind of expect most group climbs scheduled those to start as they just never know what experience (and possible lack of common sense) their clients are going to have...

 

do you know if there is any company in northern WA that would you just hire a guide individually for a climb? instead of a "course"

Edited by surferclimber

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all of the regular companies do one on one private guide trips. (who turns away $$) Of course, those are more expensive per day. The north cascades mtn guides (used to be called mazama mtn guides) do lots of one on one or small group things in the washington pass area. (and other places. I don't know their permitted area)

Your choice of guide service may come down to who has a permit for that climb in question. American alpine institute has the largest permit area and you will most likely fit your needs met there. (except rainier)

 

what is the climb you are wanting a guide for? If your climb is on rainier, you probably won't get a dedicated guide for yourself as that may cut into their permit system and also the safety aspect of being a rope team of 2. But they do climbs without courses on rainier but you would be on a team of guides and clients of 8 to 12 people total.

Edited by genepires

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genepires

 

thanks I'll look into that company... I'm thinking of either Fisher Chimneys or Sulphide on Shuksan just depending if the roads to the trailhead are snow free; I won't be back out there until may ( or maybe Dec if I'm lucky) so road access might be a problem as this last year (was early may) the only trailhead I could get to was Shannon ridge for Sulphide & it had just melted out a few days prior

 

Thanks again & best regards, Tim

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