PRICE

$2395
Includes THOP donation

SCHEDULE

Climb for Nepal
2021 dates to be announced
Mount Baker climb dates available.

DETAILS

Grade: Beginner
3 Day Summit Climb

 
 
 
 
 
 

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OVERVIEW

As both the most prominent and the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, Mount Rainier offers superb climbing opportunities. Known as “Tahoma” to Native Americans, the mountain is set within the pristine wilderness environment of Mount Rainier National Park and is covered in 26 major glaciers. It is an exceptional training ground for aspiring mountaineers and a focal point of North American mountaineering.

Northwest Alpine Guides’ 3-day expedition includes a full day of mountaineering skills instruction before the summit climb. During our ascent, we start at Paradise Meadows on the south side of the mountain, then climb the Muir Snowfield to establish a high camp at Camp Muir (10,188 feet). We then ascend the classic Disappointment Cleaver Route and the upper Emmons Glacier to the summit on Columbia Crest at 14,411 feet.

Climb Mt. Rainier and support The Himalayan Outreach Project

Join our seventh annual Climb for Nepal fundraiser and support schoolchildren in Nepal while you summit Mount Rainier. Proceeds from the expedition benefit The Himalayan Outreach Project (THOP), which supports childhood education in the foothills of Nepal. Learn more about our outreach projects.

Climb School Curriculum

Our three-day itinerary opens with a full day of mountaineering instruction near Paradise Meadows, followed by a two-day summit climb via Camp Muir and the Disappointment Cleaver Route. Our professional guides will teach the fundamental glacier mountaineering skills necessary for a safe and successful summit climb, including: 

  • Rest step, step kicking and pressure breathing 
  • Ice axe technique and self-arrest training 
  • Crampon usage and techniques
  • Rest step, step kicking and pressure breathing
  • Snow travel, climbing as a rope team
  • Leave No Trace skills
  • Summit climb of Mount Rainier
  • Discussion topics will include: Clothing and equipment, packing a backpack, acclimatization, snow camp skills, glacier navigation.

Climbing Route

Muir Snowfield / Disappointment Cleaver

  • Approach Time to Camp Muir: 4-5+ hours
  • Distance: 4.5 miles, 4800 ft. elevation gain
  • Trailhead: Paradise Meadow, 5400 ft.
  • Camp Muir: 10,188 ft.
  • Camp Muir to Summit: 6+ hours, 4300 ft. gain
  • Total Elevation Gain: 9,100 feet
  • Camp Muir to Summit to Camp Muir: 9 miles round trip, 10+ hours
  • Pack Weight: 40-45 lbs. trailhead to high camp, 20-25 lbs. high camp to summit
  • Trail synopsis: We follow a well-established trail that gains elevation gradually from the Paradise Meadows Visitor Center to the base of Panorama Point at 6,400 feet, where we take our first break with spectacular views of the Nisqually Glacier. On the lower trail, late-season snow can persist well into July. We ascend to Pebble Creek at 7,200 feet at the base of the Muir Snowfield, then to our second break near Split Rock (7,600 – 7,800 feet). We continue to kick steps up the snowfield to our third break at roughly 8,600 feet, and our fourth break at Moon Rocks at 9,200 feet. We take a final break on the snow slopes just below Camp Muir. Camp Muir is set on the edge of the Cowlitz Glacier. Our climbing route – which requires ropes, ice axes and crampons – begins just beyond it.

The Beginner’s Handbook Climbing Mount Rainier by Greg Yatman
Greg Yatman provides helpful insight in his eBook

Climb Highlights

  • A full day of mountaineering training and acclimatization in preparation for the climb. 
  • An ascent of a classic North American mountaineering objective.
  • Breakfast, dinner and hot drinks are provided on the mountain.
  • Professional instruction from Northwest Alpine Guides staff throughout the trip.
  • Training and climbing in the spectacular glaciated scenery of Mount Rainier National Park. 

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1 • Climbing School
Day 2 • Hike to Camp Muir
Day 3 • Summit Day

Qualifications

This ascent is an entry level summit climb and is suitable for climbers in excellent physical condition with no prior mountaineering experience. A full day of introductory skills training is included in the program. No extra acclimatization is necessary for this program. Read our Goals and Fitness page for recommendations on how to best physically prepare for this adventure.

3 to 1 Climber to Guide Ratio

We lead the Mount Rainier Disappointment Cleaver Route at a 3 to 1 climber to guide ratio to ensure that you receive personal attention and hands-on instruction throughout the climb.

Northwest Alpine Guides is an authorized special use permit holder in Mount Rainier National Park

ITINERARY

Climb begins and ends in Mount Rainier National Park

Plan to arrive the day before the climb begins.

Day 1 • Climbing School at Paradise Meadows

Meet 9:00 am at Paradise Inn (front patio area) in Mount Rainier National Park, WA.

Our alpine guides will meet you for team introductions, gear check, and group gear distribution. Northwest Alpine Guides will provide you with a detailed PreClimb departure book upon registration, including a gear list specific to your trip, meeting location and driving directions.

We will hike approximately 30-45 minutes from Paradise Meadows to our training area in Edith Creek Basin at 5,600 feet. The day is dedicated to learning the fundamentals of mountaineering. Course instruction includes snow climbing, ice axe and crampon technique, self-arrest, and rope travel.

Each team member will be assessed throughout the mountaineering school. You will need to demonstrate adequate fitness and proficiency in climbing skills as your safety is our priority.

After mountaineering training, we return to Paradise Meadows by mid-afternoon. The team is welcome to enjoy dinner with the guides at a restaurant in Ashford, WA.

Vertical gain hiking: 200-500 feet

Accommodations are not included: Overnight at Paradise Meadows or return to a hotel in Ashford, WA
Meals Included: None

Day 2 • Hike to Camp Muir • 10,188 feet

Meet 7:00 am at Paradise Visitor Center.

We ascend the Muir Snowfield for 4,800 feet to Camp Muir over 5 to 6 hours. We set camp, enjoy dinner and take in the scenery before going to bed early to prepare for the next day’s climb.

Vertical gain climbing: 4,800 feet
Climbing time: 5 to 6 hours

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: Dinner (D)

Day 3 • Summit Day • Mount Rainier • 14,411 feet

Our summit day begins early with a pre-dawn alpine start. We rope up in camp to cross the Cowlitz Glacier. Then we ascend over Cathedral Gap to Ingraham Flats. After taking a short break, we traverse to the base of Disappointment Cleaver, a prominent, steep, rocky ridge. We ascend to the top of the Cleaver at 12,300 feet, where we take another rest break, then climb the upper Emmons Glacier to our high break at 13,600 feet. The route then climbs the mountain’s snow dome to the lip of the summit crater. A short walk takes us across the flat expanse of the crater to the summit of Mount Rainier on Columbia Crest at 14,411 feet. We gain 4,300 feet from Camp Muir to the summit of Mount Rainier.

We and enjoy the view and celebrate on the highest point in Washington, then descend our route back to Camp Muir. We break camp, pack our gear, and retrace the hike back to Paradise Meadows.

We usually arrive back to the trailhead by late-afternoon and conclude our adventure in Ashford, WA.

Vertical gain climbing: 4,300 feet
Climbing time: 10+ hours

Meals Included: Breakfast (B)

Plan to depart the day after the climb ends.

Itinerary Notes
Northwest Alpine Guides makes every effort to uphold the scheduled itinerary, although our guides are given discretion to adapt the itinerary for reasons beyond our control or due to the needs of the group. Meal schedule: (B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner

DETAILS

Where to Meet

At 9:00 a.m. on the morning of the climb, we meet in Mount Rainier National Park, for an equipment check and orientation before heading to the trailhead. We will email you detailed PreClimb information including a gear list and full departure details upon receiving your registration.

Deposit and Payments

  • $1000.00 deposit includes a $1000.00 non-refundable registration fee, due with application.
  • Balance due 120 days prior to start date.
  • The balance can be paid by check, or credit card with a surcharge of 3.0%

Price Includes

  • Guided climb and instruction
  • Scheduled meals on the mountain (breakfast, dinner, hot drinks)
  • Professional mountain guide
  • Group equipment (including tents, ropes, stoves, etc.)
  • Wilderness Permits

Price Does Not Include

  • Transportation
  • National Park entrance fee
  • Mount Rainier Climbing Pass – $50
  • Lunch and snack food
  • Personal gear
  • Hotels or lodging
  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • Medical and evacuation coverage
  • Staff gratuities

Guides

Our instructors are highly skilled professional guides who have been selected based on their technical proficiency, proven safety records, careful judgment, patience, and supportive teaching styles. They are dedicated to a climbing lifestyle, and collectively have climbed throughout the earth’s major mountain ranges. Our guides are friendly, very willing to share their own experiences, and can help you develop a plan to achieve your own climbing ambitions. All our guides carry current certification in wilderness first aid.

Tipping

Our guides are dedicated mountain professionals who work hard to ensure your success and wellbeing on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. An average tip is 10 – 20% percent of the cost of the program, usually $100 – $200. Your guide team will pool all tips. If you prefer to transfer funds electronically, please send gratuities through paypal.me/mountaingurus

Summit Attempt

Northwest Alpine Guides cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person’s own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not NWAG responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.

Travel Insurance

We highly recommend that all participants consider travel and trip cancellation insurance after making a deposit. Travel insurance offers the best protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness, an injury prior to or while traveling, or a possible family emergency.

If you choose not to purchase insurance, you assume full responsibility for any expenses incurred in the event of a medical emergency and/or evacuation, as well as for trip cancellation, interruption, lost luggage, etc. Northwest Alpine Guides does not insure you against these risks. We ask that you consult your travel insurance carrier directly with questions.

For more info about current coverage plans and quotes please visit.

Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance

Travel, evacuation and rescue coverage designed for adventure travelers.

For a quote, or to purchase travel insurance, please click this link Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™

  • Waiv­er for pre-exist­ing con­di­tions (must be pur­chased with­in 14 days of trip deposit)
  • Option­al ​“Can­cel for Any Rea­son” cov­er­age (must be pur­chased with­in 14 days of trip deposit)

Global Rescue

We recommend Signature Travel Insurance. For travel insurance or Global Rescue membership.

For a quote, or to purchase travel insurance, please click this link Global Rescue

Date Changes

Date changes are not available for this departure.

Cancellations

Since departures require a minimum number of participants, Northwest Alpine Guides must adhere to a stringent refund policy. The policy is intended to protect participants who have otherwise committed time and resources to the departure. Please read our Online Reservation for Terms and Conditions.

MEALS

During the Mount Rainier Climb, Northwest Alpine Guides will provide group meals consisting of one (1) breakfast and one (1) dinner. You will need to provide your own lunch and snack food on the mountain.

Mountain Lunches

We recommend that you bring a variety of snack food to eat while moving. On each day, we will encourage you to eat at regular, short maintenance breaks, roughly once every hour. These snacks can be critical for maintaining a steady supply of energy while moving up and down the mountain. We will not stop for a big lunch break.

Some examples of snack foods include dried meats (salami), jerky (turkey, beef, fish), tuna fish, cheese, crackers, bagels, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, candy bars, gummy candy, cookies, energy bars and trail mix.

We cannot overstate how critical it is for you to bring foods that you enjoy eating. Eating properly is the key to maintaining strength in the mountains. We recommend a selection of sweet, sour and salty food.

When preparing lunches, please do not bring food items that require cooking or extensive preparation.

Day 1: Mountaineering school
8-hour training includes a 30-minute lunch break, two 15-minute snack breaks

Day 2: Lunch & snacks for hike from trailhead to Camp Muir
Four 15-minute lunch & snack breaks

Day 3: Lunch & snacks for climb to summit and descent
Four 15-minute snack breaks on the ascent from camp to summit, two or three 15-minute snack breaks on the descent from summit to camp

Day 3: Remaining snacks for the descent to trailhead

Group Meals

Northwest Alpine Guides may provide and prepare the following items for group breakfasts and dinners:

Breakfast: Oatmeal, Toasted Bagels with Cream Cheese, Pop Tarts, Granola Bars

Dinner: Chicken, Beef, Pork, Cheese, Noodles, Spaghetti, Tortellini, Rice, Beans, Fresh Vegetables, Tasty Bite Indian Meals, Freeze-Dried Meals

Hot Drinks: Coffee, Caffeinated Tea, Herbal Tea

Meal Concerns

We can accommodate most common food allergies. We do not serve fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, milk or eggs. For vegetarian diets, we are easily able to leave out the meat before serving group meals. For those with other dietary concerns, we recommend bringing food to supplement the pre-planned meals we provide. The Guide Hut offers a wide variety of freeze-dried meals for purchase, including vegan and gluten free options.

TRAVEL

Getting There

At 9:00 a.m. on the morning of the climb, we meet in Mount Rainier National Park, for an equipment check and orientation before heading to the trailhead. We will email you detailed PreClimb information including a gear list and full departure details upon receiving your registration.

Flight Travel

Most climbers will fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) the evening before the program and rent a car for the hour and forty-five minute drive to Ashford, Washington. Please note that Seattle traffic is worsening and driving times from Seattle and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport may be significantly longer.

Our Northwest programs begin at the date, time and meeting location listed in the itinerary in your PreClimb Information. Meeting locations may vary depending on program destination. Climbers flying to Washington State must arrive the day before their program begins in order the meet the group for an early morning gear check and orientation. Return times on the final day of the program are difficult to predict. We strongly recommend that climbers book a hotel night following the final day of their itinerary and schedule departure flights on the following day. If departing on the last day of the program, we recommend booking a flight later than 10 pm.

Transportation

Transportation between the meeting location and the trailhead is not included in the price of the trip. Guides are not responsible for providing transportation to team members. We serve both local and out-of-town climbers in our Northwest programs, and many of our guests prefer to use their own vehicles. Team members are free to organize rideshares with other team members. With your permission, our office staff can share your name and contact information with other team members so that you can organize ridesharing. The NWAG office does not coordinate ridesharing or carpooling and we are unable to share customer or guide contact information due to privacy concerns.

Mountain Weather

For updated North Cascades weather forecasts, click here

GEAR LIST

These items are required for our Mount Rainier climb.

The Guide Hut offers a selection of mountaineering equipment and clothing for purchase and rent. Gear may be purchased from the Guide Hut in advance via our Online Gear Shop. Rental gear must be reserved in advance using our quick rental form. Please read our Guide Picks blog post for gear recommendations by specific brands.

Shop the Guide Hut »Quick Rental Reservation »Gear Recommendations »

Head and Face

  • Warm Hat: Wool or synthetic. Must cover the ears.
  • Buff or Balaclava
  • Sun Hat or Baseball Cap
  • Glacier Glasses: Essential eye protection at altitude. Wrap around style or side shields. A category 4 lens is required.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30+
  • Lip Balm: SPF 30+
  • Climbing LED Headlamp: Bring one extra set of batteries.

Upper Body

  • Baselayer Tops: One synthetic long-sleeve shirt. Hoods for sun protection are strongly recommended.
  • Mid-layer Top: A synthetic or fleece top.
  • Softshell Jacket: This is a breathable but wind-and-weather resistant jacket. Hoods are highly recommended.
  • Hardshell Jacket: A fully waterproof shell. GORE-TEX© or equivalent. Hoods are required.
  • Insulated Jacket: Medium weight down. 700+ fill or higher required.

Note: Proper hardshell rain gear is required on all trips.

Handwear

  • Lightweight Softshell Gloves: One pair. Leather palms offer durability and grip.
  • Heavyweight Gloves: Insulated glove or mitten with GORE-TEX© or waterproof outer.

Lower Body

  • Baselayer Bottom: One pair. Synthetic, no cotton.
  • Softshell Pants: One pair. Synthetic, stretchy, non-insulated.
  • Hardshell Pants: One pair of GORE-TEX© pants. Full-length side zips are required; you may need to take off your hardshell pants without removing your boots.
  • Gaiters: Full-sized waterproof gaiters that must fit snugly over your mountaineering boots.

Footwear

  • Mountaineering Boots: Full shank crampon compatible double plastic, leather, synthetic, or hybrid boot depending on the season.

Note: Please read our Mountaineering Boots and Crampons guides for recommendations.

● Double plastic mountaineering boots or heavyweight synthetic/leather mountaineering boots are required for Mount Rainier.

X – NO backpacking or trekking boots are allowed above high camp on any trip. Climbing boots must be full shank and crampon compatible.

  • Mediumweight Socks: Two pair of wool or synthetic socks.
  • Heavyweight Socks: One pair of wool or synthetic socks for sleeping in and for summit day.

Sleeping

  • Sleeping Bag: A warm bag rated 0ᵒ to 20ᵒ Fahrenheit depending on season.
  • Sleeping Pad: A full-length closed-cell foam and/or inflatable pad. Foam AND inflatable pads are recommended for camping on snow during early-season climbs.

Packing and Backpack

  • Backpack: One 65- to 75-liter pack for personal and group gear. Should have an effective waist belt, fit properly and provide good support while carrying 45+ pounds.
  • Liner Bags: 1 large plastic contractor bag.

Note: An adequately sized backpack is required. You are responsible to carry all of your personal gear and food, as well as a portion of group gear (tents, ropes, stoves, fuel, etc.). We do not recommend an additional pack for summit day.

Climbing Gear

  • Ice Axe: 55-75 cm mountaineering axe.
  • Crampons: 12-point steel with anti-balling plates.
  • Climbing Helmet: Lightweight
  • Alpine Harness: Lightweight alpine harness with adjustable leg loops.
  • Trekking Poles: Adjustable and collapsible with snow baskets.
  • Locking Carabiners: (2) Large pear-shaped, screw gate locking carabiners.
  • Non-Locking Carabiners: (1) Wire gate non-locking carabiners.

Hydration

  • Water Bottles: (2) 1-liter, wide-mouth plastic bottles. NALGENE©

Note: CamelBaks and other bladder-style hydration systems may be used in addition to two water bottles, but are not sufficient. Bladders may pop and hydration hoses freeze in the cold.

Personal Health and First Aid

  • Small personal first-aid kit with medications and blister kit
  • Plastic bowl, insulated mug, and spoon
  • Toilet paper, blue bag or wag bag
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Earplugs

FITNESS

Physical fitness is the foundation of every mountain adventure. A strong cardiovascular systemendurance, core strength, flexibility and balance let us safely enjoy the spectacular terrain and close camaraderie we find in the planet’s highest places. 

Mountaineering is a strenuous activity that imposes unique demands on our bodies. Running, swimming, cycling and other sports may help you prepare for your climb, but they are usually not sufficient. Even strong runners may struggle to carry a heavy pack over steep, uneven terrain for hours at a time. Do not underestimate the importance of climbing-specific training.

The following fitness guidelines will help you prepare for your climb. For your safety and the safety of your rope team, you must be able to maintain the pace set by our guides while maintaining reserves of strength. Moving more slowly can be dangerous. As the climbing day lengthens, we become fatigued and dehydrated. We lose precious daylight hours and we expose ourselves to quickly shifting mountain conditions and weather. 

Fitness Benchmarks

To safely enjoy this climb, you must be able to meet these benchmark times while maintaining reserves of strength. Our guides may turn around climbers who are unable to do so. We recommend training for Mount Rainier at least 3-6 months in advance.

  • You should be able to hike/climb for 1 to 2 hours at a time, punctuated by 10 minute breaks, for up to 12 hours.
  • You should be able to ascend 5,000 feet per day while carrying 20-25 pounds on your back, and 5,000 feet per day while carrying 45 pounds or more on your back.

Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route

The Disappointment Cleaver Route demands more than 9,000 feet of elevation gain from trailhead to summit. On day three of the Mount Rainier Climb, we ascend to the summit, descend to high camp, then pack up and hike down to the trailhead. Participants should prepare for 12-14 hours of combined climbing and hiking time.

Paradise Meadow Trailhead to Camp Muir:

  • Distance: 4.5 miles
  • Ascent: 4,800 feet
  • Pack Weight: 45+ pounds
  • Time: 4-5+ hours

Camp Muir to Summit Roundtrip:

  • Distance: 9 miles
  • Ascent: 4,300 feet
  • Pack Weight: 20-25 pounds
  • Time: 8-10 hours

Training Resources:

Please read our Goals & Fitness guide for strategies to help you train for your climb.

Many climbers, particularly those who are new to the sport, will benefit from a workout plan designed to prepare you for the rigors of mountaineering. We recommend the following training resources:

Uphill Athlete
Mountain Tactical Institute

Frequently Asked Questions

What about safety?

No matter if you have never climbed before, our instructors are prepared to help you learn mountaineering from the ground up. In addition to professional instruction in climbing skills, most importantly, you will learn skills that will keep you safe in the mountains. With an adventure sport like mountaineering, safety is paramount.

All our instructors have advanced avalanche training, wilderness medical training, and will instruct you how to be self-reliant in the mountains. Mountain climbing can be unpredictable – weather conditions can change in a moment and one wrong step can lead to an injury. Northwest Alpine Guides will instruct you how to climb safely and successfully.

Peaks of the North Cascades

Click to read more about the Peaks of the North Cascades in Washington State.

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