The Five-Day Disappointment Cleaver Climb gives climbers a more flexible itinerary on Mt. Rainier’s classic route. The first two days prepare us for our climb with an afternoon orientation and a Mountaineering Day School, focusing on team building and training. We then ascend Mt. Rainier’s lower slopes to Camp Muir (10,060′). Spending two nights in camp allows us the flexibility to climb during the best window for weather and conditions. Having an additional day on the mountain can also allow more time to practice basic mountaineering techniques. From Camp Muir, climbers ascend 4,400′ to the summit crater, before descending the same route. The duration of the climb depends on many variables including snow conditions, the time of year, the route conditions, and the weather, but a typical summit push typically involves 10 – 12 hours of climbing round trip from Camp Muir.
This climb is ideal for first-time mountaineers, as well as experienced climbers, looking to take advantage of additional time on the mountain.
The Mountain Guides at RMI have a reputation as top guides in the United States. RMI Guides participated in some of America’s first ventures into the far reaches of the Himalaya. Years of expedition guiding and climbing around the world have built a core of consummate professional guides.
Our guides are celebrated teachers and trainers, known for their leadership as well as their character. They possess the compassion, enthusiasm, and ability to empower others and inspire them forward. Such qualities may only be found in people at the top of their profession. Despite their vast experience, RMI Guides still remember their own first steps into the mountains and enjoy helping other climbers reach new heights.
Our exceptional focus to detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures make our programs truly memorable.
RMI strives to create the safest mountain experience possible. Our experienced team of guides focuses on leading fun and successful climbs without compromising safety. Each climb includes careful pre-trip planning, daily weather forecasts, avalanche forecasts, and diligent attention to detail. All RMI Guides are highly trained in remote medicine and rescue skills and carry comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio communication equipment throughout the program. Regardless of the objective or the destination, safety remains RMI’s top priority.
3:00 – 6:00 p.m.: We will meet at 3:00 p.m. at Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford, WA. Please dress casually and bring your climbing equipment and clothing.
*Note: Whittaker Mountaineering Rental Equipment is available for pickup after 12 p.m.
We begin our Pre-Trip Orientation with a welcome and introduction of team members and guides. The afternoon is spent providing a focused introduction to a variety of topics and preparing climbers for the ascent. This includes a detailed personal equipment discussion and gear check; an introduction to safety practices including use of helmets, harnesses, and avalanche transceivers; and instruction regarding Leave No Trace practices and environmental considerations.
Please make your own arrangements to stay in the Ashford area this evening.
8:15 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.: Meet at 8:15 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp. Please arrive dressed for hiking, packed with your Mountaineering Day School gear.
The Mountaineering Day School is spent training on the lower slopes of Mt. Rainier. Climbers are introduced to a number of skills, from the foundational techniques of efficient mountain travel (rest-stepping and pressure breathing) through cramponing, roped travel, and ice axe arrest practices. The training is a great introduction to mountaineering for novice climbers as well as refresher for those with previous experience, ensuring that all climbers have the basic skills to climb safely and comfortably together on the mountain.
Please make your own arrangements for the day’s meals and a place to stay in the Ashford area this evening.
The Climb takes place on Days 3, 4 & 5. On Day 3 we hike to Camp Muir. We have the option to make our summit attempt on the morning of Day 4 or Day 5 to utilize the best window for weather and conditions. The decision of when to make our summit attempt is left to the discretion of the guides to ensure the best overall chance of success for the team. We return to Rainier BaseCamp on the afternoon of Day 5. The following itinerary is meant to highlight route details and a summit bid outline, but due to the intended flexibility of the program, timing may vary.
Meet at 8:15 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp. After a short team meeting, a shuttle takes our group to the trailhead at Paradise.
The hike from Paradise (5,400′) to Camp Muir (10,060′) is nearly 4.5 miles and takes most of the day. Once at Camp Muir, the guides will address specifics regarding the climb, including route conditions, food, equipment, clothing recommendations, and any further questions you might have. Accommodations at Camp Muir consist of a small mountain hut or tents and sleeping pads. After dinner we settle in for our first night on the mountain.
We wake with the sun to enjoy sunrise and breakfast. We will use the day to preview the first section of the climbing route, climbing to Ingraham Flats, which also gives us the chance for further practice and refinement of the climbing skills we covered on the Mountaineering Day School. At the Flats, we have the benefit of being able to lay eyes on subsequent sections of the route above to prepare for the upcoming summit bid. We descend the route to Camp Muir and spend the afternoon preparing for our summit bid.
We make an alpine start for our summit attempt, beginning in the early hours of morning. We don ropes, crampons, helmets, and grab our ice axes, leaving Camp Muir by the light of our headlamps. The route begins with a rising traverse across the Cowlitz Glacier and ascends the pumiced switchbacks of Cathedral Gap. From here, we gain the Ingraham Glacier and ascend either the Ingraham Direct or Disappointment Cleaver routes, small variations to a similar line of ascent with the actual route choice being determined by many factors that vary throughout the season. Once above the Disappointment Cleaver, we ascend the upper slopes of Mt. Rainier, navigating the crevassed glaciers to gain the summit crater. If the weather and timing cooperate, we take a short hike across the crater floor to Register Rock, and then to Columbia Crest (14,410′). This is the highest point in Washington, and when the weather is clear, the view from the summit is spectacular. Panoramic views stretch for miles in all directions, from the Pacific to the eastern side of the Cascades. The summit crater is a wildly unique environment, capped in perennial snow, with steam rising out of the cavernous vents.
From our high point, we descend back to Camp Muir. The descent typically takes approximately half the amount of time that it takes for the ascent, but requires significant effort as we retrace our route down the mountain. The duration of the climb depends on many variables including snow conditions, the time of the year, the route conditions, and the weather.
After arriving back at Camp Muir, we pack up our gear and descend to Paradise in the early afternoon. At Paradise, our shuttle takes the team to Rainier BaseCamp. With our gear unloaded in Ashford, it is time to gather as a team to celebrate our adventure.
*We do not recommend scheduling an airline flight before midnight on the last day of your program.