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Topic: Just another guided Rainier climb, A legend in my own mind< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
toejam Search for posts by this member.
the high road is hard to find
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2012, 1:39 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm feeling sorry for this pathetic forum. The real mountaineers talk somewhere else, but they've showed up here often enough to let the rest of us know that we're not real mountaineers. At least that's my theory about why a lot of us regular guys are climbing lots of mountains but not posting on this forum.

So I've met some real mountaineers, and I'm not one of them. But I love to play with ropes, crampons & ice axe, and about once a year I'll take them to a real mountain (that's not real challenging) and have fun with them. The most fun thing I've tried is climbing Mt. Rainier. I still don't have any friends I'd trust roped to me on a glacier, so I've done Rainier with professional guides.


A wannabe mountaineer.

I’ve climbed Rainier with RMI on their standard Disappointment Cleaver route and Kautz route. On my last trip I soloed Mt. Hood by the easy route on a perfect morning and met a guy on top who guided for IMG. He said I should do my next Rainier climb with IMG and promised I would like their product better. I had no complaints about my climbs with RMI and considered them worth every penny. But I figured what the heck, and when I saw IMG offer a Fuhrer Finger climb, I signed up.

My Fuhrer Finger climb was the second week of July this year when the upper mountain was still blanketed with late-season snow. The other team members had all climbed 20,000' peaks (I’ve climbed a bunch of 14ers), and the guides were studs - one guides Everest and the other has a lot of experience in Yosemite. The weather was ridiculously perfect.

The coolest thing about this climb was that it wasn't hurried. The plan was 5 days on the mountain, so no long days required if the weather is good. It was more like a backpacking trip on the upper mountain (the 4-day Kautz climbs are similar in this respect). On day 3 we got to the top of the Finger by the middle of the morning. The original plan was to set up camp there, but the perfect conditions allowed us to radio for permission to camp in the summit crater. We got permission, so moseyed on to the top, taking a couple of long breaks on the way.

We got to the crater about 4:00 p.m. and had it all to ourselves. After summit pictures, we set up camp in the bottom of the crater in warm temperatures and a light wind. The milky way and aurora borealis that night were amazing. We were wakened by guides barking at their clients, so we slowly crawled out of our bags and made coffee.

IMG offered to put us up in big tents at the Ashford HQ that night if we opted to come off the mountain. We decided we’d had enough of the cramped 4-man tent, so we went back to Ashford, bought the guides pizza & beer, and hung out at HQ listening to the real mountaineers tell stories. The next morning the guides put on a rope clinic for us so they wouldn’t have to mow the grass. My pictures:

https://picasaweb.google.com/toejamh....ectlink

I have nothing bad to say about RMI, but I really liked the experience with IMG. IMG guides make breakfast & dinner for the clients and do training sessions every day, so that’s a difference. The cool route and good luck with conditions have a lot to do with how enjoyable the climb was. I spent two nights at Whittaker’s hotel and heard a bunch of older climbers talk about how they thought they were ready but didn’t make it to the top with RMI. IMG’s standard DC route is designed to lessen the push on summit day, so I’d recommend IMG for a middle-aged climber the first time on Rainier.
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TigerFan Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 01 2012, 1:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for posting this!  This is one of the top things on my bucket list (as is a winter Mt Washington climb.)  I actually had wanted to do it with RMI this summer but got intimidated out of it after reading about how they often weed out the slow climbers... that would be too much like getting voted off the island... :\

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 02 2012, 2:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One other thing about IMG is that if you show great potential they will invite you along on other routes/mountains they have in their guide repertoire.  This way you both get to 'audition' or at least make competent connections with others you can trust.

Good way to get a small foot in a large doorway.

Assuming you can afford the 'hobby'.

It is usually a safety concern pruning out those that could be a hazard later the next day -- or would make it less pleasant for the other clients who are ready.  They are fairly specific and up front about their clients being VERY fit.

Better to be voted off rather than carried off  :)  Besides, from a LOT of experience they have a pretty good idea of how one will perform over others. And it is a business after all.


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 Post Number: 4
toejam Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 02 2012, 5:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have 3 friends who weeded themselves out on RMI climbs - the guides encouraged them to keep going but they bailed. I thought my RMI climbs were plenty slow, but my pal who is normally faster than me on backpacking trips couldn't keep it up. People may perform differently on a big climb and some are freaked out about being roped up.
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John Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 21 2012, 12:56 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Toejam,  maybe you perform better at altitude than your friends.
Just curious......why did the three guys bail?
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 21 2012, 8:18 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm not much for guides, but it looks like a good time and great pictures thanks for making the available.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 21 2012, 10:13 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the informative post and awesome photos, Toejam.  This is on my to-do list.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 22 2012, 8:40 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for sharing you Mt Rainier pictures and stories. I really need to move "out west" for a few years so I can take advantage of these big mountains.

For any of you eastern Backpackers who are interested in climbing Mt Washington this winter, I'm going to post an call to anybody interested to climb Mt Washington or something similar this winter in the Northeast Forum.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 28 2012, 3:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice photos.  Rainier is a beast.  I've climbed several mountains that you think would be more difficult but I always get my ass kicked on Rainier.  

Here's a photo on the Liberty Ridge last year.

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 Post Number: 10
toejam Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 28 2012, 3:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(John @ Aug. 21 2012, 12:56 am)
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Toejam,  maybe you perform better at altitude than your friends.
Just curious......why did the three guys bail?

Altitude issues are predictable for me since I've been going above treeline from sea level a couple times a year for nearly two decades. I wouldn't hesitate to climb a 14er tomorrow given the chance because I know what it feels like and how to deal with it.

My three friends all knew about altitude and all were strong hikers. In each case I think (but they may argue) they got freaked out by being on a rope and not in control of the pace (combined with dark, cold, steepness, and length of the climb). They all stopped at the top of Disappointment Cleaver and all were encouraged by the guides to continue. I think (but they may argue) it was more of a mental than physical issue.

For the record, I thought RMI's pace up the mountain was the same as me taking my 10-yr old kid up a 14er in CO. But it was much longer and steeper and dark and cold with fewer breaks. The guy I've climbed other mountains with likes to take 10 steps as fast as he can and then stop and suck wind for two minutes. That technique doesn't work on a rope. I've seen rest-stepping roped parties beat him to the top of two mountains.
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 Post Number: 11
toejam Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 28 2012, 3:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Love the Liberty Ridge picuture. Wow!
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John Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 29 2012, 2:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks, Steve.
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boogie Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 28 2012, 8:11 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Loved the write up.
Pics are fantastic.
Professional guides don't make the climb any easier, just less stressful.
Congrats
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scroat Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 10 2012, 12:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice!
www.cascadeclimbers.com
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GottaGamble Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 12 2012, 6:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

nice pictures...

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 08 2012, 10:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Neither a mountaineer nor do I have the skills needed, though it does have my admiration for the adventure, thank you for a look at your voyage, way cool :cool:

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leadbelly2550 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2012, 11:46 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

great description.  thanks for sharing.

i'm likely going to be in the white mountains in the Northeast this winter.  because we often come in via the backside and stay in buildings (eg randolph mountaineering club - heck of a lot easier to make dinner out of the wind), we usually end up on Jefferson, Adams, and Madison rather than Mt. Washington.

i think the best winter approach to Mt. Washington, if you're not taking the auto road, is from Hermit Lake & Lion's Head.  It's not really mountaineering - no glacier/crevasse concerns, for example, and no real need to wear a harness or use protection on most of the trails.  more snowshoeing or snow travel with crampons.  

But, you do need to know how to use an ice axe to self-arrest and as an anchor, and how to spot and avoid avalanche risk.  you also need layers and gear capable of handling the kind of cold and wind normally confined to alpine mountaineering.  you definitely need technical skills and gear if you're going to climb the ice chutes in Huntington's Ravine.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 31 2012, 8:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just saw this TR now,
Thanks for the good info and pics, Toejam.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 13 2013, 10:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've done the Kautz, and loved it. Certainly a fantastic peak and route.

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