Mt. Rainier, Washington
Climb the Kautz Glacier Route
This summer, San Juan Mountain Guides will be offering a single trip guided climb of Mt. Rainier via the Kautz Glacier Route. This is an excellent opportunity to climb with highly qualified mountain guides on one of the most sought after peaks in the lower 48!
Mount Rainier is the highest glaciated peak in the Lower 48 States and is the perfect setting to learn essential snow and ice mountaineering skills. Your learning and experience on our Rainier climb will not only challenge you but it will prepare you for bigger mountains and other alpine objectives. Rainier is a “must do” challenge for all aspiring mountaineers.
The Kautz Route
The Kautz Glacier is a great intermediate climb, a bit more demanding and technically challenging than the standard routes. It is a good choice for people in good condition who have done some previous climbing; are looking to hone their alpine skills; and are seeking a greater summit day challenge.
The intermediate mountaineering training curriculum for this trip is comprehensive, but previous cramponing practice on glacier ice is required.
Probably the best hiking/climbing trip I’ve every been on…..and I’ve been on a lot of them! The combination of being out in the middle of one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the world, mixed with the awesome hiking and fantastic technical climbing was truly magical! – Doug L. Jagged Mountain, 2010
Mt. Rainier Trip Itinerary
As with the majority of our alpine climbs, the above itinerary is approximate and may be changed due to weather delays or other factors beyond our control. We employ a light and efficient philosophy for climbing on Mt. Rainier. We will help you pare down your personal climbing gear during a pre-climb gear check to minimize weight and make certain you bring only the essentials up the mountain.
Our group will meet in Ashford for a pre-climb team meeting and equipment check. You will need to be in Ashford, WA by 3:00 pm on this day.
The group will drive to Paradise and the start of our climb. Once out on the massive Nisqually Glacier we will spend the afternoon practicing ice axe self-arrest, and becoming familiar with crampons, and the climbing rope. The evening will be spent reviewing basic and advanced climbing knots, and other fundamentals of mountaineering needed for our upcoming ascent of Mt. Rainier.
Our goal for the day is to reach the Castle, an excellent camp at around 9,700 feet with a good water source. We will cross the Nisqually Glacier and traverse up onto a ridge that will lead us to the Wilson Glacier and the final slope to the Castle. This camp has several nearby crevasses, which are perfect for crevasse rescue practice and doing some vertical ice climbing. Along the way, the guides will continue to teach fundamentals of glacier travel, crampon use, and other mountaineering fundamentals that will help for the final summit push.
After spending some time in the morning covering crevasse rescue we will pack up our camp and climb up to about 10,500 ft. and establish another camp that puts us in excellent position for our summit bid the following day.
Summit Day! Rising early on the morning of Day 4, our team will start the steep, but inspiring climb up the Kautz Ice Chute and the upper Kautz Glacier.The round trip for summit day is approximately 12 hours. If all goes well we will summit Rainier early and then make the trip back down to our high camp.
The final day of our trip will consist of packing up our camp for the trip back to Paradise. A great trip always concludes with a celebratory dinner!
Mt. Rainier Equipment List
- Backpack: Internal frame, . Guides’ pick: Osprey Variant 52
- Sleeping bag: Down or synthetic bag rated between 15-30 degrees with compression stuff sack. Guides’ pick: Neutrino Endurance 400
- Sleeping pad: Guides’ pick: Thermarest NeoAir
- Bowl, spoon, cup: Plastic/lexan
- Pocket knife: 2-3 inch blade, simple, light
- Small thermos: Optional, but nice to have
- Water bottles: 2 liters combined capacity; bottles or bladder. Guides’ pick: Nalgene or Osprey
- Water purification system: We recommend simple iodine tablets, but pumps are acceptable. Guides’ pick: Potable Aqua
Clothing and Personal Equipment
- Hiking/Alpine boots: Sturdy, waterproof, comfortable boots. Please contact us with questions or further recommendations.
- Socks: 2-3 pair of medium weight wool or synthetic blend socks.
- Base layers: Synthetic t-shirt and synthetic underwear
- Soft shell pants: warm enough for cool mornings and nights, yet light enough for warm days. Guides’ pick: OR Ferrosi
- Soft shell jacket: light weight. Guides’ pick: OR Ferrosi
- Insulated vest: down or synthetic. Guides’ pick: OR Transcendent
- Hard shell jacket: waterproof and breathable, no insulation. Guides’ Pick: OR Helium
- Hats: one with brim, one for warmth
- Sunscreen and lip balm: water/sweat-proof
- Headlamp: with extra batteries. Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Spot
- Toiletries: Toilet paper, baggie for used TP, toothbrush/paste, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.
- Personal first-aid kit: for your personal meds/needs; guide will have a large one as well
- Stuff sacks: for convenient packing
- Lunch food: Everything you eat between breakfast and dinner. May include: bagels, dried meats, cheese, trail mix, candy bars, peanut butter, etc…
- Harness: Adjustable leg loops are essential.
- Locking carabiner: Pear shaped, wide mouth.
- Boots: Hiking boots, or alpine boots – many options. No tennis shoes.
- Crampons: General mountaineering crampons (for May/June trips only – conditions dependent)
- Mountaineering Axe: 60 – 70 cm mountain axe (for May/June trips only – conditions dependent)
Training & Follow Up Climbs
As always, being in excellent physical shape is an important component of our our programs. A good mixture of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and especially core strength will help you to maximize the potential rewards that are possible on a great climbing trip.
1Before Your Trip
The Mt. Rainier trip is a strenuous trip conducted at altitudes above 10,000 feet. Therefore, previous experience hiking in the mountains and/or multi-day backpacking experience will be very helpful to you on this program. Though the actual climbing level required for this trip is not difficult, the best training regimen would include a mixture of cardiovascular fitness training (running, biking, hiking etc.), and muscular/core fitness exercises. The addition of some Yoga/stretching exercises will help to insure that you maintain good muscular flexibility as well.
For the Mt. Rainier Trip you should be ready for:
- Snow and glacier travel at altitudes between 5,000 and 14,000 feet
- 9-12 hour summit day with a lighter “day pack”
- Wilderness living
2Follow Up Climbs
- Ecuador’s Volcanoes
- Peru: Chopicalqui
- Alaska Mountaineering Seminar
- Mt. Bona Expedition
I found this to be a great experience and enjoyed all of the personnel and guides associated with San Juan – particularly Matt Pickren! – Steve K. 2011 Private Program
Ashford, Washington: Getting There
Our Mt. Rainier trips meet in Ashford, WA which is approximately 2 hours from Seattle.
Flights: Participants on the Mt. Rainier climb should fly into Seattle, WA. Many airline options exist, and flights often travel right past the iconic volcano on the way to the airport.
Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you would like to drive to Ashford, WA. Keep in mind that you will need to provide transportation for yourself to Ashford.
- Seattle, WA: 2 hours
- Porland, OR: 3 hours
- Ouray, CO: 22 hours
Hotels: Seattle and Ashford, WA has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suite you best for this trip! Below are just a few options catering to different lodging styles and preferences.
- Cost Includes:
- Guiding and trip leadership
- Breakfasts and dinners on the mountain
- Group camping and cooking equipment (tents, stoves, etc.)
- Group climbing equipment (ropes, etc.)
- Harness, helmet
- Mt. Rainier National Park Climbing Pass & Entrance Fees
- Not Included:
- Transportation to Ashford, WA
- Hotel costs before or after the courses
- Personal Lunch Food
- 5% land use surcharge
- Trip cancellation insurance – recommended
- Personal backpacking climbing clothing
- Costs associated with early returns, weather delays, or other factors beyond our control
- Guide gratuity
- Registration and Cancellation:
- Advance Registration is required for this program. You have the option to either call our office and register via phone or fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email. All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.
It was fantastic. The trip was well organized. It was a real pleasure meeting Gary. He is a great guide and extremely proficient and cool. Really enjoyed climbing with him. Overall, an A+ trip. Thanks again for organizing such a nice trip. – Vahid B. Private Alpine 2010