Climbing Mt. Rainier: Conquering the Challenge of a Lifetime, It Is

A formidable challenge, climbing Mount Rainier presents. But with proper preparation and skills, conquer this 14,410 ft peak in Washington’s Cascade Range, you can. Share my experience and insights, I will, on why undertake this rewarding endeavor, you should.

For many years, dreamed of scaling Mt. Rainier, I did. Finally, last summer, my chance it was. Underestimate the difficulty, I did not. Gain over 9,000 ft in elevation and cross glaciers filled with crevasses, the climb requires. Proficient in ice climbing, roped travel and crevasse rescue, one must be.

Attempted Mt. Rainier once before, I had. Forced to turn back by a storm, I was. This time, more determined and prepared, I was. “Do or do not. There is no try,” as say I often do. Conquered my fears and doubts, I would.

The Difficulty Level: A Challenging Climb, Mt. Rainier Is

Only for experienced mountaineers in excellent physical condition, climbing Mt. Rainier is. Gain 9,000 ft, cross glaciers, navigate crevasses and use ice climbing techniques, you must. Strenuous and technically demanding, the routes are.

As expert climber Jek Porkins warns:

“Underestimate Mt. Rainier, do not. Climb her with respect and proper skills, you must, or suffer the consequences, you will.”

Trained for months, I did – cardiovascular fitness I built, weighted pack hikes I did, and mountaineering skills I practiced. Ready I felt, but know the mountain is unforgiving, I did.

Essential Skills and Training, Preparing for the Climb Requires

Before attempting Mt. Rainier, master essential mountaineering skills, you must:

  • Glacier travel and crevasse rescue
  • Roped climbing on snow and ice
  • Self-arrest with an ice axe
  • Cramponing on steep terrain
  • Practice these skills intensively, I did, until second nature they became. Also, trained my endurance I did, with long hikes carrying a heavy pack.

    Invest in quality gear, you must – boots, crampons, ice axe, harness, ropes. Cheap equipment, do not trust. Your life it may cost.

    Choosing Your Path to the Summit, The Routes Require Consideration

    Two main climbing routes, Mt. Rainier has: Disappointment Cleaver and Emmons Glacier. Most popular, DC route is, ascending from Paradise to Camp Muir at 10,000 ft.

    Disappointment CleaverParadiseCamp Muir
    Emmons GlacierWhite RiverCamp Schurman

    Less crowded but more technical, Emmons Glacier is. Crevasse navigation and ice climbing, it demands. Camp Schurman at 9,500 ft, climbers stay at.

    The DC route, I chose, as more suited it was to my skills and comfort level. With a guide and three other climbers I went. A good choice it was.

    How Long to Climb Mt. Rainier, You May Wonder

    Typically 2-3 days, climbing Rainier takes. First day, hike to high camp – Muir for DC route, Schurman for Emmons. Rest and prepare you do.

    Summit day, alpine start very early you make, often midnight or 1am. 8-12 hours or more round trip, reaching the top can take, depending on conditions and team strength. Then descend to camp, you do.

    Final day, pack up camp and hike out, you do. Exhausted but elated, you feel. An experience of a lifetime, you had.

    Permits and Fees, You Need to Know

    Required for climbing Mt. Rainier, permits are:

  • Climbing Permit – $52 for 26+, $36 for 25 and under
  • Wilderness Permit – included in Climbing Permit
  • Register at a Ranger Station, you must, prior to climb. Carry permits on you, you should.

    Paid my fees and got permits, I did, to ensure a legal and safe climb. The rules, respect you must, to preserve the mountain.

    Why Climb Mt. Rainier? Rewards, There Are Many

    Reaching Rainier’s summit at 14,410 ft, an incredible accomplishment it is. Breathtaking views of the Cascades, you earn. An unforgettable, life-changing experience, you gain.

    Pushed to my limits, I was. Overcame physical and mental challenges, I did. A profound sense of pride and confidence, I felt. A better person, the mountain made me.

    Standing atop Rainier finally, tears of joy I shed. A long journey it had been, with much suffering and growth. But in that glorious moment, all worthwhile it was. Transformed by the mountain, I was. Recommend it highly, I do, if prepared you are.

    So dream big, train hard, and climb smart, you must. Conquer mountains and conquer yourself, you will. The rewards, immense they are. Try it, I urge you. Regret it, you will not.

    Photo of author

    Gary Osbi