2010 Expedition: Mount Rainier

CftK-Rainier-Logo-RGBFor our inaugural expedition, we've hired the services of world-renowed International Mountain Guides.  IMG directs climbing, trekking and mountaineering expeditions around the world, from the classic climbs of the Alps and Andes to the 8,000 meter peaks of the Himalayas. They continue to be one of the most respected and active guiding companies in the world.  Since 1986 they have conducted hundreds of expeditions to destinations around the globe.  IMG is being featured in the third season of Discovery Channel's Everest: Beyond The Limit.  (Watch videos)


Day 1 — Meet at IMG Headquarters at 8:00 a.m. Load up the IMG van and depart for Paradise (5,400 ft.). The group will depart with full packs for the seminar, hiking to the lower part of the Paradise Glacier, typically located at an altitude of less than 7,000 feet. The team will learn to set up an expedition camp with tents and cook kitchen. As time allows the group will practice basic glacier travel skills prior to dinner.

Day 2 — After an early breakfast, the team will continue skills training with ice axe and crampons in preparation for navigating higher up the glacier. The team will break camp and ascend the Paradise Glacier to a camp at an altitude below 9,000 feet. This camp is situated to take maximum advantage of nearby crevasses for training.

Day 3 — A day of technical rescue training with self-rescue and team rescue practice scenarios. Other skills may include snow and ice anchors, anchor systems, belaying, ascending and descending ropes. Return to camp at end of day.

Day 4 — Move to Camp Muir or the vicinity at 10,000 feet. Continued training in ice climbing, technical route finding and other glacier travel skills including short roping techniques.

Day 5 — Move to high camp at 11,000 feet on the Ingraham Glacier.  Optional summit day  or early to bed in anticipation of a pre-dawn summit climb departure.

Day 6 — Summit day and then descent of the mountain to Paradise. During the descent the group will practice navigation including map and compass and GPS. The party hopes to return to Ashford Headquarters between 2:00-4:00 pm, but weather and route conditions may effect our return time.

Source: International Mountain Guides

About Mount Rainier - 14,410'  •  4392m

click to enlarge

Mount Rainier is a large stratovolcano located 54 miles southeast of Seattle, Washington.  It towers over the Cascade Range as the most prominent mountain in the contiguous United States and Cascade Volcanic Arc at 14,410 feet.  It is the highest mountain in Washington and the Cascade Range.

The mountain and surrounding areas are protected within Mount Rainier National Park.  With 26 major glaciers and 35 square miles of permanent snowfields and glaciers, Mount Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states. The summit is topped by two volcanic craters, each over 1,000 feet in diameter with the larger east crater overlapping the west crater.  Geothermal heat from the volcano keeps areas of both crater rims free of snow and ice, and has formed the world's largest volcanic glacier cave network within the ice-filled craters.  A small crater lake about 130 by 30 feet in size and 16 feet deep, the highest in North America with a surface elevation of 14,203 feet, occupies the lowest portion of the west crater below more than 100 feet of ice and is accessible only via the caves.

Mount Rainier has a topographic prominence of 13,211 feet, greater than that of K2 (13,189 feet) of the Himalayas.  On clear days it dominates the southeastern horizon in most of the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area to such an extent that residents sometimes refer to it simply as "the Mountain."  On days of exceptional clarity, it can also be seen from as far away as Portland, Oregon, and Victoria, British Columbia.

Mountain climbing on Mount Rainier is difficult, involving traversing the largest glaciers in the U.S. south of Alaska. Most climbers require two to three days to reach the summit. Climbing teams demand experience in glacier travel, self-rescue, and wilderness travel. Nearly 8,000 to 13,000 people attempt the climb each year, with about 90% via routes from Camp Muir on the southeast flank.  Most of the remaining 10% ascend Emmons Glacier via Camp Schurman on the northeast.  About half of the attempts are successful, with weather and conditioning being the most common reasons for failure.

Mountaineering deaths each year occur due to rock and ice fall, avalanche, falls, and hypothermia associated with severe weather. The worst mountaineering accident on Mount Rainier occurred in 1981, when eleven people lost their lives in an ice fall on the Ingraham Glacier.  This was the largest number of fatalities on Mount Rainier in a single incident since 32 people were killed in a 1946 plane crash on the South Tahoma Glacier.

Source: Wikipedia

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Quoteson Mount Rainier

"Mount Rainier is by far the most coveted summit in the Cascade Range."
Mike Gauthier

“Of all the fire mountains which like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest.”
John Muir

“The thing that I still come back away with is how close so many people feel to the mountain [Mt. Rainier] emotionally and psychically, and yet how far away the world is when you're on the mountain.”
Bruce Barcott

"The wind was now a perfect tempest, and bitterly cold; smoke and mist were flying about the base of the mountain, half hiding, half revealing its gigantic outlines; and the whole scene was sublimely awful."
Hazard Stevens - first recorded summit

"Experienced mountaineers and novice climbers alike test their mettle on Mount Rainier. Steep glacial ice and huge crevasses challenge routefinding and technical skills. The thin air of high altitude strains every climber's constitution. Storms from the Pacific bring heavy snowfall, whiteouts, and fierce winds."
Mike Gauthier

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