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jostewart

Rainier: which route is easiest?

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Heard Emmons is least technical, primarily because Disappointment Cleaver can be hairy if snow has receded substantially. But DC route is 1,000 feet closer and has higher camp (especially if camping in Ing Flats). For first climb in July I'd like to maximize odds of a successful summit. Anyone have strong opinion?

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Your odds pretty much the same with either route. In July I think the success rate is about 60% for both routes. If you are concerned about fatigue it will be a problem on both routes, not one or the other. There will be less crowds on the emmons.

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I agree with ScaredSilly. Emmons has a longer, but IMHO nicer, approach. The summit day is shorter and more straightforward with fewer objective hazards such as serac and rock fall compared to the DC route.

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cool, that's consistent with some stuff i am reading online. sounds like little extra vert and length probably a good trade off for safer, less technical route (at least for a first timer with only one shot at peak for a long while).

 

 

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They are all hard. That is a real mountain. If you are asking for the easiest route you may not want to try Rainier. And you may have no business being on it.

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I agree with ScaredSilly. Emmons has a longer, but IMHO nicer, approach. The summit day is shorter and more straightforward with fewer objective hazards such as serac and rock fall compared to the DC route.

 

Im not sure the Emmons has any less objective hazard. It just comes in a different form.

 

emmons crevasse

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So he should've inquired about the most difficult route on Rainier for his first attempt instead? That said, Rainier is quite the challenge, even on the "easiest" route. Do not underestimate the amount of training and mental fortitude required. Hope that's what the Plaidster meant.

 

By the way, the Emmons is NOT a shorter route than the DC. The White River trailhead is lower than Paradise and high camp is lower than Camp Muir, so summit day is actually longer (esp. if you leave from Ingraham on the DC). It is less technical (and perhaps a touch safer) terrain though. And a beautiful approach too...

 

They are all hard. That is a real mountain. If you are asking for the easiest route you may not want to try Rainier. And you may have no business being on it.

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The NPS also finished up the new trail up to glacier basin, so you no longer have to make your way up the rocky creek bed for that section of the trail since the flooding a few years ago. I climbed the Emmons about 2 weeks before they finished the new trail, and that was probably the only part that stuck out to me as kind of a pain.

 

Also, another really good way of increasing your chances of a successful summit is to make it a three day trip and hang out for a day at high camp before going for the top. Not only does it give you a little more time to adjust to the altitude and recover from the hike up to high camp, in my experience it also gives you a chance to talk to more people that have good insight of the current conditions on the route.

In fact, I think planning and preparation will have a lot more to do with a successful rainier climb than choosing between the DC and Emmons routes.

 

As far as safety of the routes, i think its safe to say that the Emmons has a slightly higher degree of safety in certain regards. However as people noted above, there are very real dangers on both the DC and Emmons, so if I were you I would approach them both with the same mindset.

 

Good luck and have a fun climb!

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Like the good comments. Everyone was once new to the sport or this mountain-- let's support him, he's asking for help.

 

Here's my 2 cents:

 

Best way to make the climb easier is to train. Cardio fitness and weather have the biggest impact on success and failure, not choice of route.

 

Best way to make it safer is to hire a qualified guide or bring a more experienced partner who knows the mountain and the route. You'll learn more and will become a better climber..

 

As to route, I have taken first-time climbers (who were fit and after giving them some training) up the Ingraham Direct earlier in the season. It's a bit steeper than Emmons, but shorter. Best of all there is no rockfall hazard like the DC, and in early season, the snow bridges over the crevasses are more solid. Keep a close eye on climbing and weather conditions on the Mt Rainier Site.

 

I have not climbed the DC and would not do so, despite the fact that the guide service uses it. Too much objective hazard. Any chance of arbitrary death from a random rockfall is too much of a chance for me. Not worth it, plenty of other great stuff to climb.

 

Just be sure that no matter what route you take, spend a couple weekends beforehand to practice glacier travel and crevasse rescue (self and assisted). Even the easiest route on this mountain becomes hard if you find yourself hanging in a crevasse and you don't know what to do.

 

Good luck and keep asking questions!

 

 

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I agree with ScaredSilly. Emmons has a longer, but IMHO nicer, approach. The summit day is shorter and more straightforward with fewer objective hazards such as serac and rock fall compared to the DC route.

 

Im not sure the Emmons has any less objective hazard. It just comes in a different form.

 

emmons crevasse

 

And thats why you push your friends over over and over again while on the way down a fun one like St. Helens [on a good day]; never too much practice

 

 

thanks for the info folks

 

---- I let them know before we head up; why carry it if you can't use it? ---

 

let me know if you have a better method of finding partners...

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Im not sure the Emmons has any less objective hazard. It just comes in a different form.

 

emmons crevasse

 

Holy crap! I always imagined the crevasse falls being a small hole that opens up underneath but this is something else. Much like a climax avalanche, the entire bridge is gone? It ultimately broke with no one on it?

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AWESOME feedback, one and all. Thanks again. Glad I registered and signed on.

 

That crevasse Alasdair posted is just nuts. One heck of a pothole. Glad things turned out alright.

 

I am taking the fitness and preparation advice to heart. I'll be very fit by July and I feel confident but I want to be humble. Also getting extra glacier training, just not on Rainier. Part of the mind game, for me, is knowing that I'm minimizing risk so its good to hear the various perspectives. I really like the idea of being in the Ing Flats on summit day but will happily trade a longer trudge from Schurman to avoid DC risk. And I will take the advice of others and get to base camp with an extra day in the bank. But we will probably go for it if weather permits and save the extra day in case we get turned back for whatever reason.

 

Why do guides favor the DC route so much? It's like 4 to 1. Is it simply proximity to all the Paradise facilities?

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permitting dictates what routes the guides can work on, not personal preference. I bet the guides favor index or squamish over rainier any day.

Edited by genepires

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permitting dictates what routes the guides can work on, not personal preference. I bet the guides favor index or squamish over rainier any day.

 

Although you might be right about personal preference of the guides, I think what he was asking was why have the guide services and the national park dictated the DC route as the standard for many guided trips. And i think the answer to that question, is that its the easiest out of the paradise side, relatively accessible when problems arise, and muir is better suited for larger numbers of people than camp shurman. Also, thats where the guides started and have a long history on that route.

 

As much as people on this thread are bashing on the DC, I really dont think its as bad as it might sound. I mean, if it were an absolute death trap then everyone would refuse to climb it. It doesn't look good for guides' reputations for their clients to be picked off by rocks on a regular basis, and they wouldnt be on the DC if that was the case.

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I've climbed DC three times and Emmons twice. While I would never characterize the DC as a death route, it is threatend by both rock and serac fall hazard. Emmons less so. The reason more individuals are guided up the DC than other routes is influenced by history and politics but also because it is a pretty reasonable route to the summit.

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Damn straight Gene - that made me laugh! :D Wish I got paid to climb at Index more than Rainier fer sure.

 

permitting dictates what routes the guides can work on, not personal preference. I bet the guides favor index or squamish over rainier any day.
Edited by denalidevo

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The DC is used cause of Camp Muir and the fact that the guides have permanent structures there including a shitter for everyone. Of course that may soon change at least the permanent structure(s).

 

As said, crevasse danger is present on both the DC and Emmons. But the Emmons lacks big serac and rock fall danger.

 

Alasdair what you experienced is not that uncommon, having huge sections of a crevasse collapse. I have seen it personally a couple of times. Once after I had just gone across a known crevasse which looked to have a good bridge. Scared the crap out of me as: one I was alone, two I was at over 6000m, and three was now on the uphill side of huge gapping hole. A friend died from falling into a crevasse and being buried when a huge section of the edge broke.

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Pretty much ditto on all of the above advice. Obviously if you go with the "Trade Route", it is very busy and has some rockfall hazard - most private parties like the Emmons. You could even do some training and day trips to both Muir and Schurman, just to see what the mountain is all about when it's crowded.

Also, Mike Gauthier - a past climbing ranger tells it all; as well as covering conditioning and training in his book "Mount Rainier - A Climbing Guide". I wished I had it 25 years ago.

:yoda:

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If you're going in May or June, consider Furher Finger too. I don't think it's any harder than Emmons or DC if it's in good condition--and if the upper Nisqually is smooth--and there's a good chance you'll have a track to follow. If you feel more comfortable with several other parties around, then this may or may not be a good choice. My 2 cents. Good luck.

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Did a Kautz-to-DC carryover last July during mid-week and was amazed at how may disorganized groups I saw coming up the DC route as we were descending. Would love to be able to tell you that if you choose mid-week then you can avoid crowds on the more popular routes, but that doesn't appear to be the case, at least from my limited experience and that of others I've climbed with.

I think the most important part of training for an endeavor like Rainier is to understand how to feel like crap, because you will. think about what sounds good to eat when you feel like crap and how you can best mentally cope with the possibility of having to turn around...often times harder than summiting. Good luck.

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