A few suggestions if you are considering climbing Mt. Rainier:
1. Start EARLY... we’re talking about a 1am start. This assures firm glacial conditions and firm snow bridges. The early start in the dark is a blessing in disguise. We were amazed what we hiked up once we saw our route in the light coming back to Camp Muir. The route will take the average party 12 hours from Camp Muir to the summit and back.
2. If you are planning on using the shelter... arrive EARLY that day. The shelter gets crowded, and if you do not have a tent as a fall back... you might be out of luck for shelter. The shelter is currently getting rehabed and will be CLOSED for most of August of 2005.
3. Bring ear plugs or ear phones for sleeping in the shelter... people are always cooking, moving, etc... it tends to be noisy.
4. Bring a down jacket... things get very chilly on the hike. Your down jacket will be your best friend when you stop moving on the climb. It will be a comfortable addition in your clothing reserves.
5. Bring coffee filters or a water filter... when melting glacial snow... there is alot of dirt, and silt to remove.
6. Bring ample fuel for melting snow. We hiked up to Muir with about 4 liters of water each... but we melted about 10 liters of snow throughout the trip. A large MSR fuel bottle should be enough. We didn’t run out of fuel, and other campers often have extra.
7. DRINK LOTS OF WATER ! You should be hydrated to the point where your pee is clear. Good hydration will cut the viscosity of your blood and help to stave off altitude sickness.
8. EAT CLIFF BARS AND SIMPLE SUGARS. That headache you have... might be your blood sugar dropping.
9. Allow for an extra weather day in your schedule. Wind, clouds, precipitation, etc... make for an unpleasant ascent. High winds + crevasses can make for a dangerous recipe. Climbers can lose their balance and be blown down by winds in the 30-40 mph range. Be patient and wait for a good weather window.
10. Shadow an RMI guided group. For much of the climb we remained within earshot of an RMI guided group. We took breaks when they did... started when they did... and felt a little more secure as a result. The RMI guides are ‘mule drivers’ and expect alot of their clients. One poor lady was literally being pulled up ‘The Cleaver’. Don’t be fooled... many of the people on the RMI tours are from low elevations and might not be in the best shape... but RMI drives them on and keeps a good pace. Clients that are very slow are ‘weeded’ out at various rest stops along the way.
11. Don’t psyche yourself out. You will likely have ample time to hear rocks falling from Cathedral Rocks just past Camp Muir. You will feel the enormity of the mountain. Keeping a good mindset and having fun is just as important as your physical conditioning.
12. Bring a ‘RedBull’ or two for the final summit push. This can provide an important final burst of energy for the final 1,000 ft or so.
13. Plan on moving much slower when your party reaches about 13,000ft. The mix of heavy boots and sparse oxygen will let your body move fewer steps per each breath. Remember the ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ story. Slow and steady will get you to the top.
14. Bring T.P. - the bathrooms by the public shelter are not supplied with toilet paper. The one by the RMI shelter did have toilet paper and was open to the public.
15. Bring a hot brew - we missed not having hot chocolate or tea. It would have been nice. I would also recommend bringing some ‘Instant Tofu Miso Soup’ mix by Kikkoman. This stuff is great !
16. Bring a few bags of pre-measured Gatorade mix. Your body functions best with ample electrolytes.