Want to tackle Mount McKinley? First, take on 14,411-foot Rainier. Same goes for Everest. The Washington peak is high enough, and fraught with enough yawning crevasses, to give budding mountaineers a taste of the physical effort and technical ropework it takes to handle bigger Alaskan and Himalayan summits. Not that Climbing Rainier isn’t a fantastic experience in it’s own right—on your summit day you’ll rise in the wee hours, hopefully reaching the top as the alpenglow christens first your Rainier, and then the lower acolytes of Baker, Adams, St. Helen’s, and Hood arrayed along the forested spine of the Cascades. To climb Rainier you should have experience with self-arrest techniques and traveling on a rope team. Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. can teach you all that, and lead you up and down the mountain on their four-day Summit Climb courses ($970).