Guided climbs on Mount Rainier

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
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Guided climbs on Mount Rainier
Question: I'd like information on guiding services on Mount Rainier. Thanks.

Vincent Scalese
Plymouth, New Hampshire
[email protected]

Prepare to pack it in when scaling Washington's Mount Rainier.
Adventure Adviser: Well, Vince, it's pretty cut-and-dry. There's only one guide service licensed to lead summit climbs on Mount Rainier--Paradise-based Rainier Mountaineering Incorporated. They offer one-, three-, and five-day climbing courses and expeditions, all of which include the required instructional seminar on crevasse travel.

Sign on for the three-day and you'll spend the first day learning the ropes (so to speak) at their headquarters before making the five-hour slog to Camp Muir at 10,000 feet. You'll catch a few Zs in the shelter there from about 6 p.m. until midnight, and from there it's onward and upward to the summit--and all the way down--on the third day. The trip goes for $425.42 per person, not including food and gear. They'll rent you boots, crampons, ice axes, etc. at extra cost.

If you're feeling really gonzo, try one of two variations on the five-day course. Their base camp trip starts with a full day of training in Paradise, followed by four days at the Camp Muir Shelter--including, of course, a full-day summit attempt. Or opt for something a little more rugged with their five-day summit expedition, which spends four nights in tents at various camps on the mountain.

Pack-phobes, beware: You'll need to lug all your own gear, of course, as well as group gear, like tents, stoves, etc. Both five-day versions offer basic glacier instruction, as well more technical ice climbing techniques, and cost $645 per person, not including equipment. The base camp version includes all meals (bring your own snacks, though), but you'll need to schlep your lunches along if you sign onto the traveling expedition. Or, if you just want to test the water, try their one-day basic training course for $80.

Whichever route you take, plan on booking your space well in advance; they start taking reservations in January for the upcoming May-September season, and trips usually fill up by March. For more details, call 360-569-2227 (mid-May through September) or 206-627-6242 (year-round). See Outside Online's National Park Guide listing for Mount Rainier National Park for more information.

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