Just wondering what kinds of experiences some of y'all have with RMI and Mount Rainier. Planning on booking a guided climb for July 2012 ... should I try to book now or can I wait until the fall? I know it's a mega-popular climb; I'd be interested in hearing what kinds of experiences some others have had. One friend attempted the guided RMI climb a few years back and didn't like it at all but I've heard and read may glowing accounts. Thanks!
Mark, you may also want to consider International Mountain Guides. Give me a couple of weeks...I have a climb booked with them heading up on 7/25/11. I'll report back here after the climb.
IMG tends to do one day longer climbs than RMI. Personally, I can use the extra day of glacier travel training (my snow climbing is Sierra summer snow, not active glaciers) and the extra day to get used to the altitude. IMG's schedule came out in September or October and we booked our climb with them within a week of the schedule being announced because of the popularity of their Rainier climbs. I've been training since February...hopefully enough to make a difference.
We'll see...will let you know about the first of August.
I just got off Rainier after a successful summit (6:09 a.m. today) with IMG.
High praise for the whole program. 8 clients, 4 guides. First night spent in a hard shelter (bunkhouse) at Camp Muir. Second "night" spent in tents at Ingraham Flats.
We got up at 11:30 last night and made the summit in under 5.5 hours. Sunrise from the upper slopes of Rainier was spectacular.
Our guides were all excellent. Program was run efficiently. Food was great (they have a cooking shelter both at Muir and the Flats so you're not stuck with freeze-dried). If I have a knock at all, it is that the summit day is 12,000+' gain/loss and a real killer getting all the way back down to Paradise. IMG does offer an alternative schedule that includes a third night on the mountian after the summit day, so if you don't enjoy really pushing yourself that hard, that option may appeal.
Will post more details elsewhere, plus a link to my trip report when I get it done...
So, one highpointer's experience says IMG is the way to go. (Weather dependent, of course...most all of us have been stormed of one mounatin or another, so that is always a risk with the big peaks, and you're paying the guide service to make the right decision if conditions up top are not doable.)
Check out Alpine Ascents International. I just finished a Denali Prep class with them on Rainier and thought they were great.
Here's what they told me regarding guided Rainier climbs:
AAI and IMG both follow the same schedule - Day 1 to Muir, Day 2 to the Flats, Day 3 up and out. They sleep in tents.
RMI makes their summit attempt from Muir (which means it is a longer summit day) and they sleep in a dedicated hut.
From what I hear all the guided trips fill up fast, so if you know the date you want you should book it as soon as possible.
Thanks Alan and Eric. I definitely do like the idea of an extra day on the mountain with the higher camp ... especially since I've heard that some of the guided ascents don't schedule time for the walk along the rim to the true HP into their trips. AAI and IMG appear to run a few hundred $$$ more than RMI, but as my wife astutely points outs "it's not like we have the money anyway." LOL. I look forward to hearing about Alan's trip to Rainier. Good luck!
It's been a few years, but i went up with RMI on a standard 2-day climb. It was safe, i learned a couple things, and it got the job done, but i didn't find the experience fun or enlightening. It's a march.
I think you get very different reports from people who have used RMI because they have a whole army of different guides. If you get matched up with a good guide, you get a good experience. If not, then not so much.
I climbed Rainier with IMG and had a great experience. Had dinner with Eric Simonson and our 4 guides the night before. Eric is really a nice guy. 3 of the 4 guides had summited Everest and done all or most of the Seven Summits. The extra day on the mountain was beneficial. We had a great time on the mountain and climbing my first state highpoint inspired me to do more.
So with two glowing recommendations from people who have opinions I value (Doug and Alan), I was really left with no choice.
Just booked my climb for July 13-16, 2012 this morning. If you want to use this guide service, act fast. The dates for 2012 were just announced yesterday and I had my paperwork submitted within 4 hours. Even so, my first choice of dates was already booked.
Sounds great, Mark. You'll like the IMG folks. Now the real question (out of all of our control) is whether the weather will cooperate as well for you as it did for us this summer.
Time to start planning your workouts for next year. Rainier is not an easy peak and I was very glad I had spent some extra time in the gym getting ready for it. I started in February, adding 3x per week of strength and flexibility training to my normal 5x per week of cardio work. That got me to the top in good shape but I was still one tired puppy by the time I got back to Paradise on the summit day. 3,300' of "up" isn't so bad (I'm used to that much or more "up") but then the 9,000' of "down" from the summit to Paradise will really take it out of you.
One little bit of advice...double up on the water that IMG tells you to take with you from Muir Camp (last chance to fill up) back down to Paradise. They recommended just one liter. I had about 1.5 with me and wished I had more by the time I got into the last mile or so. That was on a nice sunny day, so it pulled the water out of your system pretty quickly. If it had been cloudy and cooler, a liter might have been enough but even so, I'd be generous and carry the second liter.
Climbing Gannett, Granite, Hood, Whitney MR, and Kings Peak were great experiences but I think Rainier was my favorite of the lower 48. I was looking at the IMG website and the Little Tahoma summit climb was tempting me. The only bad thing is that you have to wait 10 months to go to Rainier. Enjoy the experience Mark. I am glad for you.
Thanks Doug and Alan. 10 months isn't so bad to wait and the training will definitely be key. I haven't decided if I'm biting off more than I can chew but I'm planning on going for all four HPs I have left in the lower 48 in one big trip. In order, hoping to climb Hood, Rainier, Gannett and Granite. Hood will be the only unguided attempt. Might have to rob a bank or two to fund the trip, but what the heck.