Climb Mt. Rainier

A little over a year ago, I made a commitment to Big City Mountaineers to raise a minimum of $4,000, and then climb Mount Rainier during August of 2010 on an all-woman team, with three female guides from Rainier Mountaineering Inc. (otherwise known as RMI).

I made my commitments, fundraised and trained, and then… suddenly… in August I found myself stepping my way up Mt. Rainier.

And summiting.

I am still shocked speechless when I think about the early morning sunrise out to the East… the views as vast as only big mountains can provide.  The climb itself was tiring but at no time felt impossible, and I truly look forward to doing it again.

Mt. Rainier Climbing Route

There are many routes on Rainier, but we climbed Disappointment Cleaver.  Our route went from Camp Muir, through Cathedral Gap, across the Ingrahm Flats, and then up the Deception Cleaver.  From there, we went back onto the Ingrahm Glacier for a section of climbing, until transitioning onto the Emmons Glacier to work our way toward the summit crater.

The route we took required glacier travel, including proficiency with crampon and ice axe use, and safe movement as a rope team.  There was no technical climbing on our route, but there are many objective dangers associated with the climb, including rockfall, icefall, crevasse danger and the risks associated with fatigue and altitude.  Mount Rainier is a 14,000 foot peak — it is big enough to have its own weather.  It should not be underestimated.

Mt. Rainier Conditions and Weather

During our climb, we did have some weather to content with — namely, lenticular clouds forming at the summit in the early morning hours, which could have signaled a storm.  We managed to descend before the snow started, and the lightning storm we watched over Yakima didn’t come close to us.

When planning your trip to Mt. Rainier, pay close attention to the Mount Rainier Recreational Forecast.  Conditions can go from bluebird to dangerous storm in an instant, so always be prepared.

More information about climbing Mt. Rainier

The National Parks Service provides additional information about climbing Mount Rainier on their website.  Climbing permits are required for those climbing above 10,000 feet (roughly, above Camp Muir) or doing any glacier travel.

Choosing a Mount Rainier Guide Service

Here are my thoughts on selecting a Mount Rainier guide.

Other RockClimberGirl.com Resources about Mt. Rainier

A Woman’s Place is on Top of Mount Rainier from Sara Lingafelter on Vimeo.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan Rawlings September 25, 2010 at 12:35 am

Awesome and thanks! I was a volunteer on a backpacking trip with BCM this summer. What an incredible experience! Looking forward to the next one.

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Bob October 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm

That is awesome! I just looked through your Flickr photos and you had great weather. I climbed Rainier a few years back under a full moon and we witnessed the most amazing sunrise, too.

How long did you all train for this, and, how did you train?

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Sara October 18, 2010 at 5:18 am

I trained in earnest for about five or six months, although I didn’t train as hard as I would have liked even then; nor was I off the sofa — I’d been training last summer for mountaineering objectives so my overall fitness was okay, starting out.

The first phase of training was mostly trail running and treadmill time to get my overall cardio capacity back up… then I switched to doing as much uphill with an increasing load as possible (with some days on the stair climbing machine at the gym, and hikes whenever I could get outside). I kept up rock climbing when possible, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. I didn’t do sport-specific strengthening, which felt like a big risk to me… but I had to use what little time I had to train, for what would give me the biggest gain… and for me, that was cardio and endurance.

Thanks for your note, Bob!

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Sarah April 6, 2012 at 7:35 am

Sara – thank goodness I stumbled upon your blog! I am climbing Rainier at the end of June with RMI and have been desperate to hear a woman’s perspective of the climb (and things such as the freshette, etc.) Would it be possible for me to contact you directly with some questions/concerns I have about the climb? I live in Boston, and despite our lack of altitude, have been doing my best with training and am off to the White Mountains this weekend to get in some decent hiking. My apartment is starting to look like an REI garage sale – mountaineering/hiking gear strewn all over the place. Anyway, my email should be included in this but just in case you can contact me at mills.sarah.e@gmail.com
Thanks so much – love your blog!

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