Day 1: Tulsa - Seattle
Day 2: Technical Training Day
The Rainier BaseCamp facilities in Ashford open at 7:00 a.m. Climbers may register with Rainier Mountaineering, Inc., pick up rental equipment and purchase last minute items from Whittaker Mountaineering during this time.
We begin the morning with a welcome and introduction of team members and guides.
The Pre-Trip Preparation and Training provides an intensive learning opportunity in a classroom setting. The preparatory class is a focused introduction to a variety of topics. This includes a detailed personal equipment discussion and gear check, instruction regarding Leave No Trace practices and environmental considerations, a discussion of mountain medicine, mountain weather, expedition logistics, and navigation and route finding. This helps prepare us for our adventure on Mt. Rainier , and increases the likelihood of a safe, successful ascent of the mountain.
Day 3: Mountaineering Day School
Team assembles in preparation for the day. Please arrive dressed for hiking, packed with your Mountaineering Day School gear, and ready to go at 8:15 a.m.
Our Mountaineering Day School is spent training in the field on the lower slopes of Mt. Rainier . On this day, you are introduced to many skills, from the basic techniques of efficient mountain travel (rest-stepping and pressure breathing), various safety practices including use of helmets, harnesses, and avalanche transceivers, cramponing, roped travel, ice axe arrest practice, anchors and running belays, fixed line travel, and the basics of crevasse rescue.
Day 4 - 7: The Kautz Climb
Day 4: After an initial team meeting at 8:15 a.m. our shuttle departs for Paradise , and our climb begins.
We hike from Paradise (5,400’) across the Nisqually Glacier to our first mountain camp between 6,000’ – 8,000’. As we move up towards camp we begin to work on the foundational skills that make us more efficient and capable climbers. These skills include pressure breathing and the rest step, dressing appropriately for the weather and workload, kicking steps and climbing in balance when on snow, eating and taking efficient rest breaks, and working on a pacing system that allows us to hike and climb all day. These skills will get us into camp feeling good and are important skills for any climber to possess.
Day 5: We move to our High Camp at the western edge of the Turtle snowfield between 9,400’ – 10,500’. Prior to our summit attempt, we focus on the skills and preparation necessary for a successful ascent, and pay extra attention to the techniques required for current conditions on the upper mountain.
Day 6: Today we put it all together and make our attempt on the summit. The spectacular 35- to 50- degree Kautz ice chute, pouring through the ring of ice cliffs above 11,000 feet, starts the ascent. This is enjoyable and challenging climbing. The route climbs steeply for several hundred feet to access the crevasses of the upper Kautz and Nisqually glaciers leading to the summit. We may utilize running belays or fixed lines for this part of the ascent, as dictated by the route conditions. The upper slopes of the mountain then take us through numerous crevasse fields to the summit of the mountain.
The summit of Mt. Rainier is spectacular. A large crater dominates the summit, with steam rising out of the cavernous summit vents. The bare ground near the summit can be warm to the touch. At 14,410 feet, Mt. Rainier is the highest point in Washington . After spending some time on top (depending on weather), we begin the descent to High Camp. This usually takes about half the time of the ascent, and requires definite effort. (Be sure that your training specifically includes preparations for descending. This will help ensure that your ability to descend is not compromised.) Our group returns to High Camp for the evening.
Day 7: The final day of the program is spent descending our route from High Camp, and returning to Paradise . Our shuttle will then take the team down to Rainier BaseCamp. Plan on arriving back in Ashford in the late afternoon. After the group gear is unpacked and checked in, we celebrate our adventure with a presentation of certificates.
The duration of the climb depends on many variables including snow conditions, time of year, route conditions, weather during our climb, temperatures, etc.
Day 8: Seattle – Tulsa