his three-day instructional course and summit climb will teach you some of the basics of glacier mountaineering, including self-arrest training and glacier travel techniques, as we lead you up to a summit attempt of Mt. Rainier. Successful completion of this program will give you the required skills for some of our more advanced expeditions. Prior to your summit climb, all team members will have an instructional gear check during which you will review the functionality of each piece of gear and learn about wilderness ethics, Leave No Trace principles, and the mission statement of the National Park Service.
Guide Ratio 2:1
Team size is 8 climbers with 4 guides. With one guide for every two climbers, you have more individualized instruction, great assistance on summit day, and overall success and safety are increased. Our guides will be teachers and impart knowledge throughout the program.
This three-day program, via the Muir Corridor/Disappointment Cleaver on Mt. Rainier, is the most popular climb on the mountain. It provides a more extraordinary expedition experience than a two-day climb, while allowing you to attempt the summit with the greatest ease and enjoyment. Our first night is spent in a private hut at Camp Muir (10,000 ft.) that’s already stocked with supplies, allowing for lighter packs on the approach. Our second night, spent in a remote tent camp situated on the Ingraham Glacier at 11,000 feet, gives us better acclimatization, a shorter summit day, and a wilderness experience as we are able to climb ahead of the larger groups leaving Camp Muir. All necessary training takes place on the mountain, giving you more time to enjoy Rainier’s wondrous beauty. This is our signature climb on the mountain.
Experience and Safety
Alpine Ascents has the best safety record in the business, and our 25-plus years of guiding experience on the highest mountains in the world (as well as on Mount Rainier), is unparalleled. We aim to provide the same level of quality, service, safety and environmental stewardship that has been our trademark throughout the guiding community. (See more about us, our guides and staff)
This three-day approach provides a great opportunity for summit success. Our Muir program is three full days (including two nights) on the mountain. Some companies list a four-day climb, but the actual summit climb is only two days (including just one night on the mountain). That requires you to climb up the mountain for training and return to a hotel at night. In addition to providing breakfast and dinners while on the mountain, all Alpine Ascents training is done on the Cowlitz Glacier and nearby snowfields out of Camp Muir, allowing you to acclimatize better, enjoy the mountain views from 10,000 feet, and avoid the cost of another hotel night.
High Camp 1,000 feet above Camp Muir (Shorter summit day)
On our 3 Day Rainier Muir climb, we use an additional High Camp, which puts you 1,000 feet closer to the summit. This allows you to be first on the upper mountain, avoiding the larger groups starting from Camp Muir.
Seattle Based – Shuttle to Mountain Provided, No Rental Car Required
Alpine Ascents is the only guide service that drives you round-trip between Seattle and Mt. Rainier. Our shuttle eliminates an expensive car rental and a complicated two-hour drive each way to the mountain. We also invite you to enjoy Seattle while in the Northwest. Our schedule can save you up to two hotel nights, since our trips do not leave the mountain after a day of training. Our trips are time-efficient. We conduct a 2 p.m. gear check, allowing us to save a day as we head to the mountain early the next morning.
Tents Equipment & Meals
All group climbing equipment is provided, including climbing ropes, technical hardware, tents, and meals (except lunches). Alpine Ascents also provides transportation.
Personal equipment is not provided. You are responsible for all items on the Gear List. Alpine Ascents has high-quality gear for rent.
Climbing Skill Level
This climb is open to any enthusiastic, physically fit novice, beginner, or advanced beginner. One day of training is included in the climb. Prior experience with backpacking and camping is recommended. Ability to carry a 40-lb. pack is required.
You’ll be required to arrive in Seattle the afternoon before our trip begins. At 2 p.m., at the Alpine Ascents office, you’ll get a climb overview, a gear check, and a chance to have all your questions answered. We’ll also instruct you in Leave No Trace (LNT) practices and discuss the National Park Mission Statement.
Review the functionality of each piece of gear, wilderness ethics, LNT, and mission statement of the National Park Service
We’ll meet at the Alpine Ascents office at 6 a.m. where we’ll pack up a van and drive to Mount Rainier to meet the rest of the Alpine Ascents guide team.
We’ll start at Paradise (5,400 ft.). From this beautiful and popular hiking area, we’ll hike park trails to the snow line and continue on snow to Camp Muir. The hike takes four to five hours and we will stop to rest several times along the way for instruction on topics such as moving efficiently on snow, and glaciology, and volcanology. Prominent features of this hike include the ascent up and over Panorama Point (7,100 ft.), the crossing of the glacier-fed stream of Pebble Creek (7,200 ft.), and viewing the formidable Nisqually Glacier and Ice Cliff that spans from top to bottom on this southern aspect of Mt. Rainier. We’ll have excellent views of the Kautz Glacier and Fuhrer Finger climbing routes from the Muir Snowfield. As we crest the final portion of the Muir Snowfield and arrive at Camp Muir (10,080 ft.), we’ll have Muir Peak to our east and the massive ridge line of the Cowlitz Cleaver to the west.
On this night we’ll sleep in our private hut at Camp Muir, where we’ll have further discussions on mountain topics such as hydration, moving efficiently at altitude, and sleeping warm.
We’ll discuss the safety aspects of our climb. Instruction includes rest steps, pressure breathing, temperature management, hydration, and mountain physiology. During rest periods, we’ll have short discussions on glaciology and mountain environments.
After breakfast, we’ll begin our training. We’ll cover all aspects of self-arrest, crampon and ice axe use, as well as proper rope techniques for climbing the mountain. Training in this setting affords spectacular views to the south of Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Hood, as well as the Cowlitz Glacier and Cathedral Ridge to the northeast. After lunch we’ll pack our gear and climb across the Cowlitz Glacier, over the rocky ridge line of Cathedral Gap, to Ingraham Flats (11,100–11,200 ft., depending on where we camp). This two-hour climb will allow us to train in rope management and glacier travel skills while bringing us to a beautiful and remote location at the base of the Ingraham Glacier.
From this camp, we’ll be able to see Little Tahoma (11,100 ft.), a prominent sub-peak of Mt. Rainier, and the North Cascades range, including the volcanoes Glacier Peak and Mt. Baker. Here we’ll establish our High Camp. Our first goal will be to make good tent sites that will protect us from the elements while we make our summit attempt. Our guides will prepare the dining tent, boil water for our meals, and give a detailed account of the next day’s requirements.
Rope management, crampon technique, use of avalanche transceivers, self-arrest, and glacier travel.
Summit Climb! We’ll typically start our climb between midnight and 2 a.m., depending on the weather and conditions. Our route depends on the time of year and conditions. We will ascend either the Disappointment Cleaver or the Ingraham Glacier Direct Route (early season only). As we are far ahead of other climbers coming from Camp Muir, we will have the mountain to ourselves. Climbing up from our camp on the Ingraham Glacier or snow/rock slopes of the Disappointment Cleaver, we’ll encounter a steeper pitch and apply our learned techniques of precise footwork and regulated breathing. The pitch will be moderate as we continue above 12,300 ft. and for the remaining 2,000 ft. of glacier leading up the volcano’s cone to the Crater Rim. It takes four to five hours to ascend from our High Camp to the crater rim and then another hour to Columbia Crest, the main summit of Mt. Rainier. Along the way, we’ll route-find around crevasses and seracs and make our way up the mountain, clipping fixed protection with our climbing ropes when necessary. We’ll take short rests along the way to hydrate and eat. As it is often cold, these rest stops are frequent but short in duration. Our goal is to keep a moderate yet steady pace to keep warm. After reaching the Crater Rim, we’ll take a longer break and if all is good, we’ll head across the crater itself for another hour to Columbia Crest.
After celebrating the summit and taking photos, we’ll descend carefully back to Ingraham Flats. Here we’ll pack up our camp, rope up, and travel back down to Camp Muir. Much of our gear will be left here for other expeditions that will be coming up. From Camp Muir, we’ll carry our personal gear back to Paradise and then drive back to Seattle, stopping on the way for a meal and a chance to reflect on the trip.