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Rainier 8 Day Mountaineering Course

Course Overview

The Program was stellar. From arrival to gear check to the summit and back, we were led by experts who were truly interested in teaching us what we needed to know to become successful, safe and environmental conscious mountaineers. The itinerary was challenging but well thought out. Guides were phenomenal and educational content was strong.

This is an incredible eight-day training course, culminating with a summit climb on Mount Rainier’s Emmons Glacier. Not only do you train in one of the most ideal locations for snow, glacier and ice climbing, but you also attempt the highest volcano and glaciated peak in the continental United States. Our guides give you in-depth and comprehensive instruction and allow you to progress at your own rate. On summit day we have a 2:1 climber-to-guide ratio. Some of the topics covered: climbing equipment, route finding and navigation, glacier travel, climbing protection, crevasse rescue, and steep snow and ice climbing (if conditions permit). This is truly a one-of-a-kind course. We are allowed to offer only four departures per year, so sign up early! Climbers who successfully complete this course will be eligible to join our Denali expeditions and other high-altitude climbs around the world.

PREREQUISITES – 60 Pound Pack Required

Climbing Skill Level

This course is designed for the beginner or intermediate climber who wishes to develop strong fundamental skills in all aspects of snow and glacier climbing. It serves as a prerequisite for many of Alpine Ascents’ intermediate-level climbs and is a stepping stone for more technically difficult mountains. Prior experience with backpacking and camping is recommended.

Course Objectives

Increasing technical knowledge/skills in all aspects of snow and alpine climbing including:

  • Glacier travel
  • Rope/belay techniques
  • Crevasse rescue
  • Route finding
  • Self-arrest
  • Rappelling
  • Safe climbing
  • Cramponing

Developing educated, self-reliant climbers with the ability to evaluate subjective/objective hazards including:

  • Rock fall
  • Glacier conditions
  • Gear evaluations
  • Critical decision-making
  • Group experience
  • White-out conditions
  • Wilderness navigation
  • Weather conditions

Environmental Responsibility

Alpine Ascents is deeply committed to maintaining ecosystems at home and around the world. With each expedition, trek and course, we not only attempt to leave the environment as we found it, but strive to assist the local population in protecting the land and people indigenous to that region. Alpine Ascents reaches for the highest ethical business practices at home and abroad. Each staff member is dedicated to environmentally sound alpine ascents.

At Alpine Ascents environmental stewardship remains one of our core values and we take Leave No Trace ethics and practices very seriously. The mountains are our home and we are unwilling to sacrifice their preservation for human objectives. On every one of our courses and climbs we teach and follow the environmentally appropriate Leave No Trace principles and practices.

Over the years, with the assistance of our Sherpa teams, we have stepped up efforts to clean Mt. Everest. Our Wag Bag® program made a pioneering step in human waste management for the National Park System and Forest Service in the North Cascades. On Aconcagua, we pioneered a waste removal system on our climbs, utilizing the WAG Bag® system. And we continue our on-going maintenance and minimal impact plans wherever we guide. We believe that given the proper information most people will do all they can to help protect and maintain the environment. Alpine Ascents is committed to developing safe, self-reliant and environmentally conscious mountaineers.
This is an extremely rigorous eight days and being in strong physical condition is mandatory. Please note, the guide retains the right, at any point, to determine whether a climber is sufficiently fit to continue the climb.

Reading LIst

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.

Mount Rainier: A Climbing Guide
by Mike Gauthier, Bruce Barcott, Mountaineers Books
Selected Climbs in the Cascades
by Jim Nelson, Peter Potterfield, Mountaineers Books
Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue
Andy Selters, Mountaineers Books
The Illustrated Guide to Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue
Andy Tyson, Mike Clelland, Climbing Magazine
Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills
Don Graydon (Ed.), Kurt Hanson (Ed.), Mountaineers Society, Mountaineers Books

Rainier 8 Day FAQs

You will be mailed specific information for your climb or course upon registration. The following is to serve as a helpful guideline.

WHAT KIND OF PHYSICAL CONDITION SHOULD I BE IN?

You should aim to be in the best shape of your life. The weight of your pack is generally 65 pounds. We invite you to check out our comprehensive Training page. We highly recommend checking with your physician before embarking on strenuous physical activity. We reserve the right to turn away those climbers who we determine to be in inadequate physical condition.

HOW DO I RESERVE A SPACE FOR A COURSE?

The best way to reserve space on a course is to call our offices and place the deposit on a VISA/MC/AMEX. You may also fill out a secure online application here. Our courses fill quickly on a first-come, first-served basis, and registering over the phone is the best way to ensure reserving the course dates you want. You may also submit an application by mail with a check, money order or credit card number (see register section of website).

WHEN DOES MY COURSE BEGIN AND END?

Location: Alpine Ascents Office. 109 West Mercer Street, Seattle.
Mountaineering Courses Begins: 6:30am, Day 1 of the course
Summit climbs:  Mt. Baker and Mt. Adams have a mandatory gear check the day before at 2:00pm
Finishes: Between 6:00pm – 10:00pm on the last day of the course.

Please note: Our recommended hotel, The Marqueen Hotel is located two blocks from our office.
Marqueen Hotel
206-282-7407
www.marqueen.com

WHICH CLIMBS INCLUDE TRANSPORTATION?

Alpine Ascents will provide transportation for the 8-day course.

DO I HAVE DIFFERENT LOGISTICS IF I AM ON A PRIVATE CLIMB?

Private climb logistics are generally as follows: We meet the morning of your course at 7:00am at the Alpine Ascents offices. You are responsible for your own food and transportation. Private climbs of 3 days or less may require a gear check the day prior to your start date.

WHEN SHOULD I FLY IN AND OUT OF SEATTLE?

We recommend staying overnight the night before the course begins and on the evening of the last day of the course. Because our last course day is a summit day, there are variables that make it difficult to guarantee the exact time each course will end. You will need to be ready to go at 6:30am on the morning your course begins. Please note; if you have a 2 pm gear check the day prior to your climb, it may be advisable to arrive 1 day before your gear check.

WHERE CAN I BUY FLIGHTS?

Alpine Ascents uses the services of Charles Mulvehill at Scan East West Travel: 1-800-727-2157 or 206-623 2157. They are very familiar with our Mountaineering School and offer competitive prices on all domestic and international flights. You can also contact him via email:charles@scaneastwest.com

HOW DO I GET FROM THE AIRPORT TO MY HOTEL AND DOWNTOWN SEATTLE?

From Sea-Tac International Airport to the Marqueen Hotel or any hotel in downtown Seattle:
Shuttle Express: Airport to Marqueen Hotel or downtown Seattle and return. shuttleexpress.com
Cost: $38.00 one way
The Shuttle Express also has regular service to downtown Seattle and can be easily found via Sea-Tac courtesy phones.

You can also take Link light rail to downtown and then take a taxi. Westlake Station is closest to our office and the Marqueen.

PARKING WHILE ON COURSE?

There is limited parking near the Alpine Ascents Office. Unfortunately, parking in downtown Seattle can be difficult. There are several parking lots and garages nearby that offer daily parking, but most do not offer weekly parking. A good option is to contact the Seattle Center Parking office and look into purchasing a monthly parking pass through them. They have a few garages with several pricing options: seattlecenter.com.

HOW DO I GET TO ALPINE ASCENTS INTERNATIONAL?

Click Here for Map

  • From Interstate 5, take the Mercer Street Exit and follow the signs to Seattle Center/Space Needle. (A quick right turn onto Fairview Ave., and a quick left turn onto Valley St., which becomes Broad Street.)
  • After you pass the Space Needle on your right, make a right turn onto Denny Way.
  • Proceed to 1st Ave. North and turn right.
  • Proceed to Mercer Street and turn right.
  • We are located at 109 West Mercer Street, directly across the street from Bank of America and Next Door to Ozzie’s Tavern.
    Street parking is limited to 2-hour zones and parking meters, though there are several pay lots near our offices.
WHAT KIND OF PREVIOUS MOUNTAINEERING EXPERIENCE DO I NEED TO TAKE A COURSE?

This course is designed for beginners in very good physical condition.

WHERE DO I STAY THE NIGHT BEFORE AND AFTER THE COURSE?

Within walking distance of our Seattle Office is the Marqueen Hotel. We recommend staying there at our preferred rate. We meet at our office on the day of the course at 6:30am. The Marqueen Hotel is located two blocks from our office.
Marqueen Hotel
206-282-7407
www.marqueen.com

If you wish to share a room with another course participant, The Marqueen can help with those arrangements. You will need a room for the night prior to the start of your course and for the last night of your course. The hotel is 2 blocks from the Alpine Ascents office. Extra gear may be stored at our office until your return.

Staying elsewhere in downtown Seattle is another option. During the climbing season, hotels in the Seattle metropolis are difficult to reserve and are a bit more expensive. You may elect to stay in any one of the numerous hotels in the area, but you will be responsible for getting to our offices by 6:30am the morning of your course. We are a short taxi cab ride away from most of the downtown hotels and local equipment shops. After the course, we will return to our offices and you can return to your hotel by taxi at that point. You will need a room for the night prior to the start of your course and for the last night of your course. Please note: Free long-term parking is generally difficult in the vicinity of Alpine Ascents. If you plan to stay in Seattle and have a car, try to arrange a taxi or ride to our offices on the morning of the course. Extra gear may be stored in our office until your return.

WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING?

When you sign up for a course we will send you a confirmation package that includes an equipment list detailing each piece of equipment you will need. Please read your equipment list very carefully. You are required to bring every item on the list so be as precise as possible when packing. Alpine Ascents rents quality technical equipment at reasonable rates. If you have any equipment-related questions please call us (206-378-1927). You can also email us at: Climb@AlpineAscents.com

IS FOOD PROVIDED ON MY CLIMB OR COURSE?

Please review the Sample Menu Plan. As part of the curriculum, you are responsible for your own food. Before departing for the trailhead, we will check and organize personal/group gear. Additionally, if necessary we will make one final stop for groceries. However, it is advisable to purchase most of your bulk foods before we meet. If you are staying in Seattle, there are numerous supermarkets as well as the flagship REI, North Face, and Patagonia gear shops for fresh and prepackaged foods.

WHERE DO I PICK UP MY RENTAL GEAR FOR THE COURSE?

You will pick up your rental gear at our offices during the gear check.

CAN I SHARE A TENT AND STOVE?

Yes, students generally pair up during the gear check to share the weight and bulk of a tent and stove.

HOW HEAVY WILL MY PACK BE?

Since everyone purchases different gear and is a different size, it is hard to give you an exact weight. You can expect your internal frame pack (packed with gear and food) to weigh between 55 and 65 pounds. It is likely that you will be asked to help carry some of the group equipment such as ropes and protection, so make sure there is some additional room in and on your backpack for approximately 4-8 pounds of gear. The total potential weight to be carried is 65 – 75 pounds.

ANY TIPS ON PACKING?

The mountains of the northwest and north coast are heavily glaciated temperate mountains. This means they are subject to highly variable weather conditions.

  • Pack everything in two layers of sturdy plastic. (Trash Compactor Bags work the best) Bring one large trash bag to completely and easily cover your pack. You should bring at least 4 bags.
  • It is likely that you will be asked to help carry some of the group equipment, so make sure there is some additional room in and on your backpack.
WHAT CAN I READ TO PREPARE FOR THE COURSE?

You will get far more out of your course by reading Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 6th ed., The Mountaineers. This book provides an excellent overview of the elements involved in alpine mountaineering. Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 6 review many of the aspects we will be covering during your training and familiarity with these aspects will greatly enhance your experience.

HOW MANY STUDENTS/INSTRUCTORS ARE THERE PER CLASS?

On the 8-Day Rainier mountaineering course the student to instructor ratio is 5:1.

WHERE IS A GOOD, TRUSTWORTHY STORE TO PURCHASE GEAR?

Look no further than the Alpine Ascents retail store. Our expert staff of seasoned climbers and curated product selection guarantees perfect outfitting. Registered climbers receive 10% off any purchases. Shop online, in person, or via phone.

I AM CONCERNED THAT THE GEAR I AM RENTING WILL NOT FIT OR WORK PROPERLY.

All of our gear is of the highest quality. The boots, packs, crampons, ice axes, tents, and other items are cleaned and checked on a daily basis. Please note that double plastic boots do not break in.

WHERE WILL MY COURSE BE HELD?

The Washington 8-Day mountaineering course will take place on Mt Rainier and will spend time on the Emmons glacier. This side of Mt Rainier sees less traffic than other zones and provides a great space for the course.

HOW IS THE ISSUE OF HUMAN WASTE ON RAINIER DEALT WITH BY ALPINE ASCENTS?

Alpine Ascents International takes Leave No Trace principles very seriously. We are a pioneering organization in environmentally positive methods of waste disposal. We were the first guide service to implement the use of the revolutionary “Wag Bag” system. Other wilderness companies and organizations are taking our lead and are now implementing this excellent product. If you have climbed with us and are wondering where to obtain your own supplies, you can order Wag Bags from Phillips Environmental directly from their website: http://www.thepett.com

IS THIS TRIP GOING TO BE PHYSICALLY CHALLENGING?

Yes. See the training tips above, but keep in mind that you are climbing a mountain and it is not easy. If you follow our physical fitness tips and do some training on your own, you should complete the course with no problems.

WHAT IF I NEED TO LEAVE THE COURSE EARLY?

For climbers who need to be escorted from the course, there is a minimum fee of $350.00.

A fantastic program and experience!

Partners & Accreditations

Alpine Ascents International is an authorized mountain guide service of Denali National Park and Preserve and Mount Rainier National Park.
Copyright © 2016 Alpine Ascents International. All rights reserved.