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 sixth annual Climb for Nepal fundraiser and support schoolchildren in Nepal while you summit Mount Rainier. Proceeds from the expedition benefit The Himalayan Outreach Project, 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.
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
- 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
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 ensuring 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
Climb for Nepal Itinerary
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
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.
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
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 per person includes non-refundable registration fee, due with application.
- Balance due 120 days prior to start date.
- Guided climb and instruction
- Scheduled meals on the mountain (breakfast, dinner, hot drinks)
- Professional mountain guide
- Group equipment (including tents, ropes, stoves, etc.)
- Mount Rainier Climbing Pass – $50
- Wilderness Permits
Price Does Not Include
- National Park entrance fee
- Lunch and snack food
- Personal gear
- Hotels or lodging
- Trip cancellation insurance
- Medical and evacuation coverage
- Staff gratuities
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. Tips normally average 10 – 20% of the cost of the program. If you prefer to transfer funds electronically, please send gratuities through paypal.me/mountaingurus
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.
Date changes are not available for this departure.
We highly recommend that all participants consider travel and trip cancellation insurance. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or while traveling. Northwest Alpine Guides does not insure you against these risks. For more info about current coverage plans and quotes please visit.
We recommend Signature Travel Insurance.
For travel insurance or Global Rescue membership.
Click here for a quote
Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance
For travel, evacuation and rescue coverage.
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Adventure Plan and Adventure Plus Plan differ only in the coverage option which allows you to Cancel for Any Reason. In order to receive Cancel for Any Reason coverage you must purchase the Adventure Plan Plus within 15 days of paying your deposit or payment with NWAG.
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.
During the Mount Rainier 3-Day 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.
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
Here is an example of meal items NWAG provides and our guides will prepare during group breakfasts and dinners.
Breakfast: Oatmeal, Bagels, Pop Tarts, and Granola Bars
Dinner: Chicken, Beef, Pork, Pasta, Noodles, Tortellini, Rice, Beans, Vegetables, Tasty Bites, Cheese
Hot Drinks: Coffee, Caffeinated Tea, Herbal Tea
For those with special meal concerns we recommend bringing food to supplement the pre-planned group meals we provide. We can accommodate most common food allergies. We do not serve fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, milk or egg. For vegetarian diets, we are easily able to leave out the meat before serving group meals.
Northwest Alpine Guides is unable to accommodate vegan, gluten-free, or other special meal concerns.