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Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby Climbdent » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:46 am

pvnisher wrote:
Gabriel wrote:Do learn to be self sufficient in the mountains so you don't need a guide. The experience will be a treasure for life.


I agree with Gabriel, but want to add that going with a guide is one of the ways to learn to be self-sufficient so that you can go again without one. View the guide as both a safety net and an instructor. My first trip to Rainier I went guided. It was my first time on a glacier, and my friends were similarly inexperienced. I'm glad I did. I learned some skills, and that has carried me further.
I've also hired a guide for rock climbing. I couldn't lead the grade, but I wanted to do a particular route. I learned a lot by going with a pro rather than some dirtbag buddies with bad habits.

People look down on guides, or rather, people who hire guides. I think that is mistaken since you aren't look down upon for taking a class...
If you hire a guide and let them do everything and you just do the minimum to get up, that's your own fault. But if you hire a guide, take mental (or written) notes, observe what's going on, ask why... it's like taking a hands-on class.


Well put. Use your experience with the guides to actually learn instead of having a babysitter mentality as most guided clients do. Tie your own knots, have and use your own map, work out your gear before you go, understand the cooking setup and the inherent inefficiencies of making water, properly making a tent platform and using the guy lines, etc.

My 2 cents if you want to do these trips on your own in the future is not to go with RMI via DC as they use the climbers hut which limits your ability to learn camping on a glacier. I would go on the E-W Route.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby hunterwf » Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:54 pm

I was on Rainier twice this year. Once with IMG in June and once with 3 other 14er.com members in Sept. Both were great experiences. I was only able to summit in September though. Whatever you decide, have a great time.
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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby lazy climber » Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:21 pm

This is an interesting thread, living in the PNW I have a different view about the hills in that the hill will be there next week or next month or next season and no need to get excited if the conditions are poor ( I had planned on Little Tahoma or maybe Shuksan this weekend but the rain moved in and it may be spring before we get another shot) but if you are travelling and have one week to get things done you need to make sure you optimize your chances.

If there are two of you with limited experience adding one more really does not help all that much, one person is going to "save" the other two??? Rainier is a big hill, it is not a Colorado 14er, and as some said it can be a hard hike to really bad depending on conditions. The 4 that died last winter on the Muir Snowfield started out on a nice day hike that went down the tubes rapidly.

So having said that go ahead and join a guided group, choose one of the "smaller" groups, RMI can run 25 people up the hill at a time, I do not know what the others client limit is but a group of 4-8 with a couple guides would be nice. This gives you a chance to experience the hill and lower some of the anxiety level.

Time of season will also increase your odds, the earlier the season the better the climbing (IMO) but the weather issue is iffy, later in the season the route gets worse but the weather gets better. Of course it does not matter who you go with ( guided or by yourself) if the weather goes down the tubes you are mostly out of luck.

I do agree that doing some of the "smaller" hills is agood warm up, but Hood is worthless (IMO) by mid June, Adams can be a good trip but still almost an 8K ft gain and Baker is remote, usually fewer people on it and can have more crevasses on the route than Rainier and a lot of elevation gain so if you are nervous about Rainier I think I would try to discourage you from Baker without a guide. However IMO I like Baker and Shuksan better than Rainier so a week with guides on those two hills (North Ridge of Baker and Fisher Chimneys on Shuksan)would be better than a week on the Big Hill, just my opinion.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby patternmike » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:51 pm

I did Rainier with RMI about 7 years ago. I thought they were very good. Not sure how it is now but true they had large groups. 27 clients went up with us. All were together first day with several guides. Second day we were in groups of 3-4 per guide. Of the 27 I think 5 of us summited. I will say they move on at a pretty good clip and you are expected to keep up or you will be left at a rest stop and sent down with group of others who can not continue.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby pills2619 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:20 pm

From what I've been reading the Emmons Glacier is not that much extra work and a much more pleasant setting. I will be climbing the Emmons route in mid June and will be doing a ski descent. I picked the Emmons route because like I already said it seems like a better experience and also the ski descent will be more enjoyable on the Emmons from what I have read and has less crevasse danger. We will not be using a guide but will be climbing Baker on the same trip as a warm up to Rainier. Does anyone have any recommendations as to which route on Baker would make for a better ski descent?

And my personal opinion about guides is if you can afford to pay for one then you should, given you don't already have the necessary experience. If you don't have the money that shouldn't stop you it just means you will have to become a little more accomplished on your own before pushing to the next level. It also means you should spend that much more time doing the reading and research that is necessary to feel competent in your environment.
Last edited by pills2619 on Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
They forget that some crisis is necessary to hone skill. "Near misses," those brief encounters with the reality of mortality, are great learning tools if properly approached. -Denali Climbers Guidebook

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby lazy climber » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:10 am

Mid June could be a great time to climb or could be socked in, plan on spending time looking at the inside of your tent, if you get good weather that will be great.

The Emmons should be a great ski trip, it is a bit longer and starts lower but will be less crowded.

As far as Baker goes, mid June will have the same weather issues ( maybe more as it is further north) that Rainier will have. It may be "smaller" than Rainier but the crack hazard can be more and the elevation gain is almost the same. That time of year your total "hike" distance may be greater on Baker.

We have had a lot of snow late in the season the last few years so who knows where the "trail head" will be in mid june, it could be several miles from where you have to park to where the summer TH starts. If you are lucky you can follow the "road" to the TH, although the "road" will be snow covered and maybe downed trees so it is not very pleasant.

If you can get into Baker ( you can always get there depending on how much time and effort you want to expend) The South side would be OK, this is the Rail Road Grade/ Easton /Demming Glacier Route. Another good one would be the North West side coming in on the Heliotrope Trail / Coleman Glacier. IMO the Coleman is boring but would be a fair ski route.

Another climb would be Mt Shuksan via the Sulfide Glacier, once again it could be a slog getting in but that would be a great ski route.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby pills2619 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:03 pm

Yeah I don't know if baker will be the best choice then. I'm going with 3 other guys who will not be skiing so I'm looking for a good combo of warm-up for glaicier travel in the PNW and at the same time trying to not waste an opportunity at a ski descent. I thought about Hood but was discouraged by the conditions in mid to late June(not much good snow that far south and at that elevation).
Last edited by pills2619 on Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby smoove » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:19 pm

pills2619 wrote:ski decent


Cannot . . . take it . . . anymore. ;)

Unfortunately, skiing is infinitely more difficult for me than spelling. I envy you guys. I hope to successfully walk up (and down) the Emmons route in July.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby pills2619 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:22 pm

Sorry I'm more of a numbers guy myself...
They forget that some crisis is necessary to hone skill. "Near misses," those brief encounters with the reality of mortality, are great learning tools if properly approached. -Denali Climbers Guidebook

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby spiderman » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:40 pm

I wouldn't discount the possibility of climbing Hood in mid to late June. This year there was a major snow storm in mid-June and high avalanche danger persisted until late June. July was actually prime climbing conditions this year and people were skiing the whole slope down to Timberline Lodge. IMHO, it is hard to pass up the opportunity to climb two state highpoints in one trip if the conditions and timing have a synchronous phase.

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Re: Rainier: Emmons glacier or 'standard' route

Postby pills2619 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:17 pm

Well that might be another option then cause my buddies will like that they can get some runs in at the resort since they will not be joining me on the ski descent.
They forget that some crisis is necessary to hone skill. "Near misses," those brief encounters with the reality of mortality, are great learning tools if properly approached. -Denali Climbers Guidebook

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