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Rainier - DC Route Questions


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Hello All,


I am planning to try the DC route on Rainier with my wife this summer. Late July or early August. We are from the east and are avid hikers/backpackers (winter and summer)/MTBers/rock climbers/ice climbers. We have also taken a glacier travel and crevasse rescue course. I feel confident regarding our abilities, but am curious if others feel the DC route is ok for our first glacier travel experience. The pros seem to be that the route is well traveled, potentially busy, (i.e. others around if we really need them though we have practiced 2-person rescue situations and plan to be self sufficient), and less technically demanding. The cons seem to be: unknown performance at altitude (although we have backpacked up to 11K and were fine) and inexperience. These seem manageable if we take a day to acclimatize and stick to an honest assessment of our abilities and turn around if we run into any trouble.


Thanks in advance for any advice or recommendations. Sorry if this duplicates other posts, I did try searching the forums, but didn't find what I was looking for.

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Hey there, welcome to CC. It sounds like you're pretty well prepared given your background in rock/ice climbing and the glacier travel/crevasse course. The DC in July+ is usually a well-trodden path, but then you can have odd years like last year where there was a steep section of ice that made things more complicated. You may want to try a less aggressive objective for your first glacier climb, but with your background you'd probably be fine.


The only thing I'd say you should consider is to be on a rope team of 3. If you're going to attempt it with just your wife, make sure you've practiced crevasse rescue with a 2 man team. It's a lot more difficult. A third person adds a significant safety margin if the route is heavily crevassed.


If you're coming out here just to climb Rainier, give yourself as much time as possible (a week or more). The weather isn't always good even in July/August.


Have fun!

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-Go as light as possible. 30lbs max fully loaded for the DC. More weight can be cut by staying in the Muir shelter if possible. Some folks don't like it, I do.


-Don't bring anything you don't plan on using or wearing, except for an extra pair of socks and a little extra fuel and food.


-Go as fit as possible. Hike with a pack, trail run, run stairs, step master, lift weights. The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy the experience.


-Start early. Get ahead of the guided groups. Move quickly under seracs and rock bands.


-Consider the Emmons Glacier route. Fewer objective hazards, arguably more scenic and 'wildernessy', less of a goat rodeo. Late July-Early August there should be a cattle trail to follow.



Edited by DPS
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as you describe your skillset, I do not believe that the DC is an inappropriate objective. I would consider taking more than just a single extra day at Muir for acclimatization, though. Rainier boasts the highest incidence of HAPE of any mountain in the world for good reason -- major metropolitan areas within an hour, and hordes attempting to climb it from sea-level in a weekend. consider that if you were attempting Denali via the West Buttress, you'd likely take a week to get to 14K. Yet climbers who would happily take a week to acclimatize to 14k on Denali get sick trying to summit Rainier in two days. take a day at Panorama point to work on ice-axe skills - self-arrest and ice-axe belays (if there's snow there, which there is most years), take another day at Muir, build an anchor to rappel into a crevasse, and practice hauling one another out. then take a very short day to Ingraham Flats, and make your summit camp there. you won't set any records, but you're likely to enjoy yourselves a lot more...

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Thanks for all the advice! We are planning at least one day (possibly more) to acclimatize and will use that day to go over (again) 2 person crevasse rescue systems. I had considered the Emmons route as I would very much prefer a wilderness experience, but felt that a route with more people would be safer given this is our first time on a glacier. We do plan to be fully self sufficient and are training with that in mind, but it is nice to know others will be around if the shit really hits the fan. Is there much of a difference in the number of people on the DC vs. the Emmons? Will both routes have a well defined path?


I believe reservations opened on 3/15. Anybody know how fast they fill up?

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