3 Day Muir Climb With Alpine Ascents
This three-day instructional course and summit climb will teach you some of the basics of glacier mountaineering, including self-arrest training and glacier travel techniques, as we lead you up to a summit attempt of Mt. Rainier, originally named “təqʷuʔməʔ” (Taquoma). Successful completion of this program will give you the required skills for some of our more advanced expeditions. Prior to your summit climb, all team members will have an instructional gear check during which you will review the functionality of each piece of gear and learn about wilderness ethics, Leave No Trace principles, and the mission statement of the National Park Service.
Guide Ratio 2:1
Team size is 8 climbers with 4 guides. With one guide for every two climbers, you have more individualized instruction, great assistance on summit day, and overall success and safety are increased. Our guides will be teachers and impart knowledge throughout the program.
Our climb includes round trip transportation between Seattle and Mount Rainier.
Absolutely enjoyed the climb. Amazing guides that were fun to spend time with and extremely prepared and capable, and a fun crew to boot! It was great that each brought their own focus, interests, and flavors of each skill. It was really tremendous. I would highly recommend Alpine Ascents and this trip specifically to others.
I’ve been up Mount Rainier three times with the last two being with another organization. You have them beat. The 2 night itinerary gave us enough time to enjoy the experience. Truly a memory maker. First class all the way.
This three-day program, via the Muir Corridor/Disappointment Cleaver on Mt. Rainier, is the most popular climb on the mountain. It provides a more extraordinary expedition experience than a two-day climb, while allowing you to attempt the summit with the greatest ease and enjoyment. Our first night is spent in a private hut at Camp Muir (10,000 ft.) that’s already stocked with supplies, allowing for lighter packs on the approach. Our second night, spent in a remote tent camp situated on the Ingraham Glacier at 11,000 feet, gives us better acclimatization, a shorter summit day, and a wilderness experience as we are able to climb ahead of the larger groups leaving Camp Muir. All necessary training takes place on the mountain, giving you more time to enjoy Rainier’s wondrous beauty. This is our signature climb on the mountain.
Experience and Safety
Alpine Ascents has the best safety record in the business, and our 25-plus years of guiding experience on the highest mountains in the world (as well as on Mount Rainier), is unparalleled. We aim to provide the same level of quality, service, safety and environmental stewardship that has been our trademark throughout the guiding community. (See more about us, our guides and staff)
This three-day approach provides a great opportunity for summit success. Our Muir program is three full days (including two nights) on the mountain. Some companies list a four-day climb, but the actual summit climb is only two days (including just one night on the mountain). That requires you to climb up the mountain for training and return to a hotel at night. In addition to providing breakfast and dinners while on the mountain, all Alpine Ascents training is done on the Cowlitz Glacier and nearby snowfields out of Camp Muir, allowing you to acclimatize better, enjoy the mountain views from 10,000 feet, and avoid the cost of another hotel night.
High Camp 1,000 feet above Camp Muir (Shorter summit day)
On our 3 Day Rainier Muir climb, we use an additional High Camp, which puts you 1,000 feet closer to the summit. This allows you to be first on the upper mountain, avoiding the larger groups starting from Camp Muir.
Tents Equipment & Meals
All group climbing equipment is provided, including climbing ropes, technical hardware, tents, and meals (except lunches).
Personal equipment is not provided. You are responsible for all items on the Gear List. Alpine Ascents has high-quality gear for rent.
Suggested Experience Level
This climb is open to any physically strong beginner with prior backpacking/hiking experience. We have found that individuals with commitment to sport specific training and previous mountain experience on peaks such as Mount Baker or Mount Adams have a better understanding of the physical demands of the sport. Previous technical mountaineering experience is not expected and one day of training is included in the climb.
Ability to carry a 40-lb. pack is required.
Fabulous, your leaders were superb and inspired confidence in the group and took time every turn to teach and further explain climbing techniques. The leadership was much more professional than teams I have climbed with in the past.
The most organized and deftly executed climbs I have ever been on, it seemed as there was nothing they did not know about Rainier. It is a rare occurrence to spend time with people as professional and as motivated as my guide team.
This is the 5th time I have climbed with Alpine Ascents in the past 9 years. What I appreciate is consistency in the product. It is obvious that you are meticulous in selecting guides and ensure they adhere to safety and climbing principles.
|1||Paradise to Camp Muir||4,788 ↑||5-6||4.5||40|
|2||Camp Muir to Ingraham Flats||912 ↑||1||1||35|
|3||Ingraham Flats to Columbia Crest (Summit)||3,310 ↑||4-6||2||15|
|Columbia Crest to Paradise||9,010 ↓||8-10||8.5||30|
Please note: Climbers must be able to climb at a rate of 1,000 vertical feet per hour. Those who are unable to maintain this pace on Day 1 to Camp Muir may not be permitted to attempt the summit on the final day.
Will I summit Rainier?
Rainier is a big and challenging mountain. It’s commonly said, “this is an intermediate climb that has been manufactured into a beginner route when led by experienced guides”.
Personal fitness, weather, and route conditions are the three most crucial elements that determine success on the climb.
Fitness: This is one of the most important and controllable factors of summit success! Using our training recommendations and focusing on sport-specific training will drastically increase your likelihood of summiting. If you have not been training regularly, consider hiring a personal trainer who specializes in mountain fitness. To summit Rainier, climbers must be able to travel 1,000 – 1,200+ vertical feet per hour, over multiple hours with a 35 – 40 lb pack.
Weather: In mountaineering, we have four meteorological factors that can prevent us from reaching the summit – visibility, wind, precipitation, and temperature. Often, we will still climb when just one of the meteorological factors is working against us (depending on the severity). When multiple factors stack up, we err on the side of caution. Poor weather such as high wind coupled with precipitation can bring higher risk to the climbing team compared to moderate or favorable weather. Throughout the climb, guides will be assessing the weather to determine the viability of moving to High camp and later the summit. We always look to mitigate risks on the mountain.
The Route: Probably the least understood of the three elements, the route to the summit may change 25 times or more per season from small variations to major adjustments. When the route no longer connects to the summit, we refer to it as “the route going out”. This can happen for many reasons, such as crevasse bridges opening. Our guide team (along with other guide services), will work to find a route variation or new route. While we are quick to respond (the response time is also weather-permitting) there may be multiple teams that do not reach the summit while the route is out even if the weather is favorable. Like the weather, we don’t know when the route will go out and how long it may take to repair or find a new route. We have often repaired the route in 1-2 days, but longer outages are not uncommon.
Our feedback from climbers, when the route “goes out” has been overwhelmingly positive because we can provide different options instead of a summit attempt. Sometimes we climb as high as we can seeing if we can make the route go, while other times we will spend a day working on technical mountaineering skills like ice climbing.
Keeping the Pace While Climbing Tahoma (Mount Rainier)
Tahoma is physically demanding climb. You must be prepared to travel with your team at a speed of 1000 vertical feet per hour.
- While many may climb at a faster pace, we feel setting a team pace is important to manage expectations and offer the chance for more climbers to summit when conditions permit. We understand this may be a slower pace than you are used to, but we believe this is the best approach and provides a more team-oriented experience.
- Please note, there are times when we may have to move more quickly through certain terrain, such as under areas of possible overhead hazard. Coming to the climb with the expected fitness level, helps us navigate the mountain and “speed up “ when needed.
- 1000 vertical feet per hour is a reasonable fitness level for climbing and obtainable for climbers who give themselves ample time to train and focus on sport specific training for mountaineering.
- Traveling very slowly on a climb like Tahoma (less than 1000 vertical feet per hour) makes each section of the climb longer, putting a greater overall demand and fatigue on the climber.
- We do not have fast or slow rope teams – our teams keep a steady pace and move together for risk management purposes.
- Traveling very slowly on a climb like Tahoma (less than 1000 vertical feet per hour) makes each section of the climb longer, resulting in greater overall fatigue for the climber, including physical stress
We encourage you to use our blog posts to keep updated on climbing conditions. We do not cancel trips due to potential weather situations or while the climbing route is being rerouted.
See Cascades Climbing Blog at: https://www.alpineascents.com/cybercast/mount_rainier_cascades_blog/
We acknowledge we gather upon the ancestral lands of the Muckleshoot, Puyallup, and Nisqually Tribes. These communities have lived on and stewarded the lands surrounding təqʷubəʔ (tah-ko-bah) since time immemorial, and continue to do so today. We recognize that this land acknowledgment is one small step toward true ally ship and we commit to uplifting the voices, experiences, and histories of the Indigenous people of this land and beyond.
History of Tahoma
For the last century, the highest volcano looming over the PNW has been known widely as Mount Rainier. This name, coined by a European explorer, holds minimal significance to the rich history of the land and culture existing in this space since time immemorial. Although it has grown to hold meaning today, the aim of the history presented here is to educate about the local Native American history on and around Tahoma (Mount Rainier).
Tahoma, just one of the many names for the highest volcano in Washington state, means Mother of the Waters. Native American stories tell of a time when the mountain we know today as Tahoma lived in the Olympic mountain range. The range became too crowded, so Tahoma decided to move out and into less populated lands. She told her son- “Taquotma” Translation: Don’t forget the water. Her son brought the waters out East with them, which is why Tahoma- The Mother of Waters- serves as the headwaters for many rivers in the area.
Within the last century, archeological studies have found evidence of Native American tribe activity dating back thousands of years. Archeologists predict Native American communities lived in the plains surrounding Tahoma as early as 15,000 to 10,000 years ago. Since then, when glaciers began to melt, communities moved higher up the mountain as flora and fauna began to thrive within the area. More recent archeological studies have found remnants of tribe’s rock shelters and foraging materials such as food, tools, and fire pits dating back 1,200 years. For more information on the archeological history of Tahoma visit the NPS Mount Rainier Website.
History of Western Washington Tribal Lands
Since time immemorial, native tribes of Washington have inhabited the land on and around Tahoma. The Cowlitz, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island, Yakama, and Coast Salish tribes are those that call parts of Tahoma home today. There are many different names for the mountain, Tahoma being one well known throughout the region. Tribes coexisted upon the land for centuries. Within the last 200 years, European colonizers arrived and began commandeering the land. In 1854 The Treaties of Point Elliott and Medicine Creek were instituted, allocating small plots of land for tribes to live upon and continue their traditional practices. Throughout the early 1900’s, tribes watched their ancestral lands quickly diminished even further – often left with just a few acres to call home. Settlers continued to seize their homelands. Throughout the early 2000’s, tribes such as the Muckleshoot and Puyallup began reclaiming their homelands, slowly buying back the land that had been sold to non-Indians throughout the early 1900’s.
This is a highly recommended shortlist and we would be happy to pass on a longer reading list for those interested. These links will bounce to Amazon.com with reviews.
Western Washington Native American Educational Resources
For further education on the indigenous communities that live in the Tahoma area, visit their respective websites for specific tribal histories. We also have provided Native history books on our reading list:
Visiting us in Seattle and looking for some other activities for your travels? Find more information on Indigenous heritage sites, museums, and special events here.
Well, climb them both of course! But a legendary mountain author weighs in:
BY PETER POTTERFIELD
As the author of Selected Climbs in the Cascades, both volumes 1 and 2, I get emails daily from adventurers coming to the Cascades for the first time wanting some insight into the best climbing routes in the range. And who can blame them? When it comes to alpine climbs, the Cascades offer arguably the best routes in the Lower 48.
None of the peaks in the range is more unique or appealing than the Cascade volcanoes. Draped in glaciers, studded with fearsome rock spires, and all rising above 10,000 feet, the volcanoes offer a climbing experience unrivaled outside of the Alps, or Alaska, or the Himalaya. There are six of these giants in the Northwest: Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, Glacier Peak, and Mount Baker. But for most climbers seeking a world-class route on a big mountain, access, quality and climbing routes mean the choice comes down to just two: Mount Baker or Mount Rainier?
I was faced with that very dilemma when I first moved to the Northwest after a decade of climbing in the Rockies. I was stoked to get up on those big, ice-clad ghostly white mountains floating on the horizon in all directions, but frankly lacked the skills. Crevasse rescue, ice climbing, glacier travel, reading avalanche conditions—these were all skills I needed to acquire. But where to do it? On 14,410-ft. Mount Rainier, lord of the range, rising above Seattle like a papier-mâché stage prop? Or the more remote and aesthetic 10,781-ft. Mount Baker in the far north, monarch of ineffably beautiful North Cascades?
The decision was easy: Baker. This, the third highest peak in the Northwest, wears its heavy mantle of ice with exceptional beauty. Its high altitude and position west of the Cascade Crest—Baker is only 35 miles from tidewater—place it to receive the full blast of wet winter storms, feeding its glaciers. That becomes ever more important as climate change threatens Cascade glaciers farther south. Baker is snow white and pristine in its ice clad beauty.
“Excellent. Climbing Mt. Baker was one of the most amazing experiences of my life” 2017 Climber
For any climber wishing to add ice-climbing and steep snow-climbing skills to their resume, Mount Baker is perfect. It’s got everything Mount Rainier has—glaciers, crevasses, ice falls, steep ice, steep snow, craggy rock spires—and more. Situated within the wild North Cascades, often called the Switzerland of America, Baker comes with pristine wilderness and a sense of solitude that is unique among the Cascade volcanoes. But what it doesn’t have is perhaps its greatest draw: crowds and permit hassles. Multiple routes, from straightforward glacier climbs such as the Easton or the Coleman, to steep, aesthetic ice climbing routes such as the North Ridge, Baker offers a range of routes, difficulties and glacial terrain free of the crowds found on Mount Hood or Mount Adams or Mount Rainier.
A final consideration: altitude. For those of us who live at sea level, a trip above 14,000 feet comes with tiresome, debilitating effects of altitude, and the real possibility of high-altitude sickness. Now Baker is a big mountain, and at almost 11,000 feet, it is not immune to that danger, but acclimatization is easier and quicker. Altitude problems are far less of an issue on this peak. And the lower high camps and shorter summit days on its routes make climbing and learning on Mount Baker more fun and less stressful than doing the same program on Mount Rainier. Let’s be clear this is an equal climb technically but perhaps a better intro into glacier climbing and one of the pearls of the mountains every climber should attempt.
It worked for me, that’s why I ended up writing the climbing guide to the Cascades. Within a year of my tutelage on Baker, I climbed all the Cascade volcanoes: Mount Hood at night under a full moon (never turned the headlamps on) for a dawn summit, remote Glacier Peak via the Rabbit Ears route, and Rainier for the first of a dozen summits via the Emmons with my friend Scott Fischer. I did Adams the first time via the North Ridge, the “mule route” is just too boring. My time on Baker had me more than ready for all of that, and what was to come in Alaska and the Alps.
And the beauty is, gaining proficiency in big-mountain skills on Mount Baker is immediately transferable. Learn your chops here, where you likely will have more fun and fewer altitude problems, and enjoy a rare pristine setting and a genuine sense of solitude, and you are set up for what’s next: Rainier on a technical route, other Cascades climbs Denali, or Aconcagua.
I’d need a thesaurus for all the superlatives. This is my 6th guided climb and it was by far the best. We never felt rushed or frantic. We had enough time and information every step of the way. Every question was answered. Every detail was provided. I give this experience my absolute highest rating.