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Flatlandclimber

Mt Rainier logistics

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Hey all -

 

Climbing Rainier via DC in June of next year. Plane tickets are purchased, I'll post the itinerary, I was hoping anyone familiar with Rainier could give me some info and pointers. We are traveling as a 2 man rope team.

 

June 17th - fly from Boston to Seattle, hotel for one night.

June 18th - take the rental van to get fuel for the stove, recheck gear for the climb, drive to trailhead to sleep in car.

June 19th - wake up early, check in at ranger station (we're getting permits in advance), start slog to Muir. Camp at Muir.

June 20th - 12 am start, summit, back down to hotel

June 21st - reorganize gear, rest, eat, drink beer, stay in hotel

June 22nd - fly back to boston

 

Here's my questions -

 

1. What good/cheap motels to stay in near the airport? Looking for $50-$100 a night, wifi, clean rooms.

2. Where should we buy the fuel for the stove?

3. We are experienced in the east with climbing, ice climbing, hiking, cold weather, storms, crevasse rescue, and rope team glacier travel, but we don't have avalanche beacons. Where can we rent them?

4. Any restrictions to sleeping in our car the night before?

5. Any other tips or pointers are welcome!

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You can get fuel at REI in Tacoma. I'm sure there are other stores such as Sports Authority/Joe's/Fred Meyer that carry fuel but I'm not sure which one would be on the way from SeaTac to Mt Rainier. I don't think you are technically allowed to sleep in the parking lot, you may want to make reservations at one of the camp grounds like Cougar Rock. There are plenty of motels/hotels around the airport, can't really recommend one over another. Or, instead of staying in a motel near the airport/sleeping in the parking lot, stay in one of the many cabins outside the park. The majority of climbers don't carry avalanche beacons in June. If you get hit by an avalanche it will likely be a wet slide on very steep ground and you'll probably be swept over the cleaver or into a crevasse and a beacon won't do you a whole lot of good. The weather in June is about 50/50. You may want to factor in a few weather days. I usually suggest having alternate plans should the weather be nuking on Rainier. Weather is often more favorable on the east side of the crest and mountains like Mt Stuart, Colchuck, Prusik, and Dragontail Peaks can be enjoying good weather.

Edited by DPS

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how about this itinary.

June 17th - fly from Boston to Seattle, get the gear together, sleep somewhere along way between seatac and rainier. MOst gear should ready before you leave for plane.

June 18th - get permit and hike to muir.

June 19th - summit if weather window is good and short. or move camp to ingram flats.

June 20th - 12 am start, summit, back down to hotel or use as a bad weather day

June 21st - 12 am start, summit, back down to hotel

June 22nd - fly back to boston

 

this plan allows for more acclimitization with the 2 camps. Sleeping at 5000ft is OK but not as good as sleeping at muir and ingram for a couple of days. Plus, if the weather is good, enjoy the time in the mountains. Don't just rush in and back out. As fine as seattle is, time spent on rainier is better than in seattle.

 

also, +1 to everything Dan said.

 

 

Edited by genepires

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may want to start a bit earlier then 12 AM. if its a weekend, that shelter would be full or you would definitely hear people from your tent. if theres a lot of people that can be good and bad.

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I've never had an issue sleeping at the Paradise parking lot. It's probably not approved by the park but as long as you keep everything clean and aren't too obvious about it, you should be fine.

 

I agree with Gene too... June can be hit or miss with the weather so give yourself a day or two extra so you can time your climb appropriately.

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thanks everyone, helpful stuff. My itinerary looked more like that originally, but my climbing partner preferred hotel before and after. The hotel towards the tail end is tentative. We won't be making reservations in case we need a bad weather day. If the weather window is good though, we will be in the hotel the night before to shower and rest before flying for 12+ hours the next day.

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If you have to shoe horn a Rainier trip into just a few days with little wiggle room for weather, I can't stress enough going in July. As Dan and others have said, June is really hit or miss around here, weather-wise, especially on Rainier. Meteorological summer (i.e., dry, stable wx) starts ~7/12 most years in the PNW and you would be best served if you changed your tickets to a later date. You don't want to go in August most years (too bony), mid July is usually the ticket for the easier routes.

 

 

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I can't stress enough going in July. As Dan and others have said, June is really hit or miss around here, weather-wise, especially on Rainier. Meteorological summer (i.e., dry, stable wx) starts ~7/12 most years in the PNW and you would be best served if you changed your tickets to a later date. You don't want to go in August most years (too bony), mid July is usually the ticket for the easier routes.

 

+1. Good advice.

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ok I'll discuss moving the trip to july with my climbing partner.

 

One other question that popped up - when we set up camp at Muir or Ingraham, can we leave our tents there securely when we make our summit bid?

 

Will anyone bother it or will it be okay until we come back down to break camp?

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It is common to leave your tent up while you go for the summit, and I wouldn't expect anyone to mess with it. That said, make sure it is deadmanned securely into the snow. Many tents have been lost over the years, and you may want to lie it flat if the winds are strong in the am. Probably depends a lot on how skookum of tent you are bringing and how well you anchor it.

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I often would have the tent deadmanned down and shovel a big pile of snow ontop of each buried stakes. Come back at the end of the day to find all the pile is gone but by stakes are still buried deep because of the cover. Snow melts of crazy fast in a hot day of summer. I suggest a huge pile of snow above each stake. Easy to do the day before when the snow is soft, then it freezes hard overnight. Bomber!

 

Nobody will mess with it, except for the taliban, marmots and the crows. Mostly the crows. I have had good luck with putting my extra food in the sleeping bag. The stench of the fart sack hides any smell of food.

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It is pretty easy to get from SeaTac to Paradise in the same day when flying in. There is an REI in Tukwila which is next to SeaTac where you can pick up fuel. From there drive into the park or bivy along the way (can find a descent breakfast in Asford). Take a leisurely day to hike to Muir.

 

I would highly suggest not trying to summit the next day as you will have hardly acclimated. Instead get up late, enjoy breakfast, and then head up to the Ingraham Flats. Bivy there, then get up for the summit. It makes for a more enjoyable day and you will have more acclimation.

 

As for leaving your camp - it has been a long time since I have left a camp on Rainier but I always drop the tent. As said, many have come back to no tent and had to go crevasse diving to find it.

 

You do not really need avy beacon on Rainier. As said, if you get hit with an avy you are going to have bigger issues.

 

As for hotels there are bunch elcheapo ones right by the airport. Most have shuttles.

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All of the info stated here is right on, June is very sketchy on The Mountain - it's usually off&on monsoon storms. Over a 30year time frame, I've summited 3 out of 3 attempts, all in mid to end of July. Even our best local weathermen (both mountaineers) will state that our summer begins July 12th - so the best advice here is to change your plans, and it will help you achieve your goal. I measured success on 50% conditioning and 50% weather - the best information I have read is in Mike Gauthier's (previous climbing ranger) book on climbing Mount Rainier. Good Luck! :tup:

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I agree on the sketchy June weather. Shoot for July if you can. Also, have you considered staying at Whittakers Bunkhouse in Ashford? I wouldn't go anywhere near a "cheap" motel by the airport, unless you want to drag bedbugs up the mountain with you. It's a nasty area for the most part. Get your stuff and head up to Ashford to stay before and after.

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Nisqually Lodge is a good option of also. I've stayed in both Whittaker's and Nisqually. Nisqually has a bit more room. Whittaker's does have the bunkroom for cheap. I stayed in a room, so I can't speak to it.

 

Nisqually has free breakfast. It's not much, but it's something to fill your gut. Whittaker's has microwaved burritos or bagels. I'd recommend Wild Berry for breakfast and Copper Creek Inn for dinner.

 

BTW - I'm 0 for 2 in June. Weather both times forced a turnaround above cleaver.

Edited by Joatman

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It sounds like we are re-arranging your whole trip - but MedicSandy has a good point, don't waste your time in the rat race of the Sea-Tac area. Google - 'Ashford, WA Lodging' for the whole thing. And it's only a 75 mile drive 1 1/2 hr. You may even be able to buy fuel or last minute supplies; if not you can stop at the Tacoma REI on the way as you head south on I-5, east on 516 to Parkland, and just a few miles to Hwy 7, then it's a direct shot into Ashford. Have a great trip! :tup:

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It is interesting to hear of comments regarding June weather. While I would agree it can be hit or miss do not let it discourage you if that is your window. In July I have had great wether but also walked up to Muir in a piss out (had it clear two days later). I have tried more often in May and been weathered out yet all four trips in June were successful as were all my July trips. By successful I do not mean blue bird weather throughout. Several summits have been in white outs. That said July has been nice weather for summit just the start of one sucked. But by July the DC can be a pretty beat out cattle trail with not much in terms of mountain experience - but makes for a quick out.

 

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You are right - May/June is possible, but unreliable. Goes to show you the Local's have an advantage to cherry pick the weather window for the right break. But it's important to not add to the risk when coming from afar and spending big bucks. True enough the trade routes get pretty busy by July and it becomes a cess pool like Everest - but it is truly an inspirational and even to some a spiritual mountain.

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Flatland,

 

One more location to buy fuel/gear; Whittaker Mountaineering in Ashford,WA (both canister and liquid). If your going to Paradise to do the DC, you'll drive right past it. It is collocated with RMI guide HQ and there is a place to sleep there as previously mentioned. I was just in their shop yesterday...pretty decent supply of goods.

 

Cheers,

-Russ

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I also highly recommend Mid July or later. August is better than June. People avoid August because the route becomes less direct as crevasses open up so the climb becomes more physically strenuous. As someone from the East coast you can plan to train for more fitness. You can't out train the June weather.

 

Also your original itinerary seemed to include going to Muir during daylight hours. I have summited doing it this was and it was needlessly hot and miserable to hike with the heaviest pack load you will bring up to Muir.

 

If you arrive at Paradise all ready to go in the afternoon or evening you might want to consider going for Muir right then and there. I tried this once for a summit bid and it worked well. I spent the entire next day and night at Muir which allowed more sleep and moving (not sweating) in the cold part of the day and sleeping in the warm part of the day. Our summit day was a fairly standard midnight start.

 

Just remember that as someone from out of state you need to maximize your time spent at camp Muir waiting for conditions. Don't plan on showing up and going for it. Plan on showing up ready to camp for three days and going for it when conditions allow.

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