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RMI's Intro to Ski Mountaineering is a five-day ski mountaineering program on the slopes of Mt. Rainier. Program highlights include:
- A day of foundational skills training and 4 days of extensive practical technical training while skiing and climbing Mt. Rainier's legendary slopes.
- Base out of a winter camp near the tree line, allowing easy access to a variety of exciting and technical terrain.
- Ascend to Camp Muir (10,060') on an overnight tour of Mt. Rainier's alpine terrain and enjoy an exciting 5,000' descent the next day.
Our Intro to Ski Mountaineering program explores Mount Rainier's incredible winter snowpack and accessible but challenging technical terrain. Throughout the course we learn how to safely access mountaineering destinations on skis while increasing the speed and efficiency of climbing and skiing technical mountaineering terrain. We also learn and practice a variety of ski specific technical skills including roped travel, rappelling and belaying, route finding, anchors, and crevasse rescue.
The Intro to Ski Mountaineering program is designed for skiers who posses solid intermediate to advanced skiing skills, and are able to comfortably ski moderate ungroomed terrain in ski areas. The Intro to Ski Touring course or equivalent experience is required for participation. This course is designed to be both fun and safe with a focus on training, not skiing "big lines". We will ski plenty of terrain matching our comfort levels in Mt. Rainier's pristine winter backcountry.
THE RMI DIFFERENCE
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 programs without compromising safety. Each program 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.
As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or email@example.com.
RMI Expeditions is an authorized concessioner of Mount Rainier National Park.
Day 1: TECHNICAL TRAINING DAY
8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.: Meet at 8:00 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford, WA. Please dress casually and bring your equipment and clothing.
We begin the day with a welcome and introduction of team members and guides. Throughout the day the guides provide a focused introduction to a variety of topics. This includes a detailed personal equipment discussion and gear check; Leave No Trace and environmental considerations; mountain hazards and safety; back country navigation; and tour planning. There will be an avalanche awareness refresher, an introduction to avalanche forecasting, and an introduction to basic rope systems used in mountaineering.
Please make your own arrangements for the day's meals and a place to stay in the Ashford area for this evening
Day 2: APPROACH TO CAMP
Meet at 7:00 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp. After an early team meeting our shuttle departs for Paradise at 5,400'.
We ascend to our camp approximately 1,500' above Paradise which offers some of the best backcountry skiing in all of Washington. We work out of this camp to practice our avalanche companion rescue, learn basic mountaineering techniques such as self and team arrest, cramponing and rope travel, and go for a ski tour to make snow stability observations and get in some nice turns. The day concludes with a mountaineering lecture in the evening.
Day 3: TECHNICAL PRACTICE & DESCENTS
Today we travel on our skis to the different slopes, couloirs and cliffs around camp. We tour from site to site, learning roped travel with skis, rappelling, mountaineering anchors, and introduce crevasse rescue for skiers. Our evening is spent developing a tour plan to take us to Camp Muir the next day.
Technical Ski Mountaineering Training
Day 4: ASCENT TO CAMP MUIR
We follow the team's route plan to ascend to Camp Muir (10,060'), our camp for the night. From this spectacular place we have glaciers, snowfields and a variety of ski mountaineering and training options. For the afternoon, we construct rescue sleds and shelters, practice our skier crevasse rescue, or get some steeper skiing in around camp. In the evening we discuss further mountaineering topics and develop a tour plan for the next day's descent.
Climbing to Camp Muir
Day 5: SKI DESCENT
We evaluate the weather and snow conditions to determine our descent to Paradise. The descent offers great skiing and teaching opportunities as we put the weeks' skills into practice. A shuttle takes our group down to Rainier BaseCamp. In Ashford, we gather as a team to celebrate our adventure
Ski Descent from Camp Muir
Intro to Ski Mountaineering Equipment List
The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.
Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items. For internet orders, please use the discount code RMI2014.
Pack & Bag Guides' Pick
BACKPACK: A 70+ liter pack is the recommended size for this climb. A strapping system to hold your skis is a nice feature.
DAY PACK (OPTIONAL): An optional item for use on the ski tours above camp. It should be large enough to carry food, water, clothing, and rescue gear for the day. A strapping system for carrying skis is a nice feature.
A bag rated to 0° F. Either goose down or synthetic, with ample room for movement. Most guides prefer down, because it is lightweight and compactable. A waterproof bag is superb, but not mandatory.
The temperature rating system for sleeping bags is arbitrary and is not a guarantee of warmth. Base your selection on how well you do in the cold. If you tend to sleep on the cold side, choose a bag rated on the lower end of the temperature range.
SLEEPING PAD: Full length inflatable or closed cell pad.
Technical Gear Guides' Pick
ICE AXE: A shorter 50-60cm ice axe is preferable for ski mountaineering, as this is a tool we tend to only use in steeper terrain. Avoid aggressive ice climbing tools in favor of a simple mountain axe with an adze.
CLIMBING HARNESS: We recommend a comfortable, adjustable alpine climbing harness. Removable, drop seat or adjustable leg loops are convenient for managing your clothing layers over the course of the climb and facilitate going to the bathroom.
1 TRIPLE-ACTION LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into the climbing rope.
1 SCREW-GATE LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into anchors, etc.
HELMET: A UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization) certified climbing helmet or a ski mountaineering helmet rated from both rock fall and skiing falls. Standard ski helmets are not acceptable. They are not rated for rockfall and are too warm to be worn during ascents.
CLIMBING CRAMPONS: 12 point adjustable crampons which fit your ski boots and are designed for general mountaineering.
AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVER: A digital transceiver is preferred. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.
SKI CRAMPONS: A crampon specific to your ski binding which is used for ascending firm slopes with skis on.
SKIS WITH AT BINDINGS, TELEMARK SKIS, OR SPLITBOARD: All skis and boards need to have brakes or retention straps.
Head Guides' Pick
BUFF / NECK GAITER / BALACLAVA: One item for face protection is required. Our primary recommendation is the Buff. A neck gaiter or balaclava is also acceptable.
GLACIER GLASSES: You will need protective sunglasses, either dark-lensed with side shields or full wrap-around frames. Almost all sunglasses block UV-A, UV-B and infrared rays adequately. Pay attention to the visible light transmission. The darkest lenses (glacier glasses) only allow approx. 6% visible light to get through, while lighter lenses (driving glasses) let in as much as 20+ %. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the wearer’s pupils through the lenses, they are too light for sun protection at altitude.
GOGGLES: Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. On windy days, climbers, especially contact lens wearers, may find photochromatic lenses the most versatile in a variety of light conditions.
Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.
LIGHT WEIGHT GLOVE: One pair of fleece, soft-shell or wind-stopper gloves.
MEDIUM WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant, insulated mountain gloves.
HEAVY WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant, insulated gloves. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove.
We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Quarter zip styles will allow for better temperature regulation. We recommend light colors, which best reflect the intense sun on hot days.
RAIN JACKET (HARD SHELL): A jacket made of rain-proof material with an attached hood. We recommend a thinner lightweight jacket rather than a heavier insulated jacket.
INSULATED PARKA with HOOD: This expedition-style heavy parka should extend below the waist and must have an insulated hood. While the parka is worn primarily at rest breaks on summit day, it serves as an emergency garment if needed. We recommend down rather than synthetic fill as down weighs less. The parka does not have to be waterproof, though that is a nice feature.
We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.
UNDERWEAR: Non-cotton briefs or boxers.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Synthetic or wool.
SKI PANT: A lightweight, well ventilated soft-shell or hard-shell ski or climbing pant that fits over the cuff of your ski boots.
ALPINE TOURING, TELEMARK BOOTS, OR SNOWBOARD BOOTS: Telemark boots flex at the toe for more efficient striding uphill and to allow the "telemark turn" on descent. Telemark boots should be of contemporary plastic design. No leather "Nordic" boots please. Alpine Touring boots are a cross between a downhill ski boot and a hiking boot. AT Boots have rigid, lug soles, and are crampon compatible for climbing steep snow slopes. If renting boots it is recommended that you demo the rentals at your local ski area before taking them on this program. Please call our office to speak with a guide about ski and snowboard boot recommendations.
GAITERS: A pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your ski boots.
2 PAIR OF SOCKS: Either wool or synthetic. Whatever sock combination you are accustomed to wearing during your training or previous adventures (whether single medium weight socks, a medium weight with a liner sock, two medium weight socks together, etc), should work just fine for this climb.
Miscellaneous Items Guides' Pick
SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.
MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.
2 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required.
2 GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE): We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.
ZIP-LOCK BAG (1 GALLON): Please use the Zip-Lock as your personal trash bag.
REPAIR KIT: Bring a small repair kit with parts specific to your ski or snowboard boots and bindings.
2 STRAPS: Voile style ski straps for you carrying your skis and poles, and longer straps for lashing foam pads and tents to the outside of your pack.
Utensils Guides' Pick
Purchase travel insurance.
Return the Registration Packet to the RMI Office.
Arrange Lodging in Ashford.
Arrange Transportation to Ashford.
Reserve rental equipment.
Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!
RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, stoves, fuel, shovels, climbing ropes, and blue bags (for solid waste disposal).
Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a cell phone for emergency contact.
On the Intro to Ski Mountaineering Course you will need four trail lunches, three dinners, three breakfasts and several snacks while on the mountain.
Below are some examples and suggestions of the types of food that work well.
Lunch / Snacks
Your "lunches" are taken in the field throughout the day during short 10 to 15 minute breaks. We suggest crackers, pizza, candy bars, jerky, chips, cookies, trail mix, fruits, Gu, energy bars, and hard candies. Drink mixes such as Gatorade and Kool-Aid help flavor your water. Add peanut butter, cream cheese, hard cheese, or pepperoni for additional calories and taste. If you enjoy bread items, bagels work well. Include some salty snacks to replenish lost salts.
Single-serving instant oatmeal or Cream-of-Wheat makes a good main course fare. A variety of granola bars, pastries, fruit and a hot drink mix of coffee, tea, cocoa or cider are suggested.
Freeze-dried entrees are very convenient; it is best to be familiar with their taste (and the effects they may have on your stomach) in advance of your program. Instant soups and Cup-o'-Noodles are popular supplements to your main course. As an alternative, you might consider bringing a cold main dish such as chicken, pizza, sandwiches, pasta salads or stir-fry. In addition, bring coffee, tea, cocoa or cider to warm you up before bedtime.
Don't worry too much about the nutritional aspect of meals; concern yourself more with a high calorie intake. Most importantly, choose a variety of foods that you like to eat. One of the normal, albeit disconcerting, adjustments to altitude is a slight loss of appetite.
Ample cold water is available for drinking and replenishing water bottles. Hot water will also be provided for your meals (freeze-dried dinners, instant soups, instant oatmeal, etc) and hot drinks. When planning your menu, don't bring any items that require extensive preparation, cooking or simmering. We are able to provide you with boiling water, but do not have the ability to actually cook food items.
Mount Rainier Meal Packages
You will find some food items available at Whittaker Mountaineering, such as freeze-dried meals and energy bars.
Whittaker Mountaineering has put together meal packages, evaluated by a nutritionist for carbohydrate, protein and fat, for climbing Mt. Rainier. Click here to reserve yours.
This trip is open to all individuals in excellent physical condition, with solid intermediate to advanced skiing skills, and with Intro to Ski Touring course or equivalent experience. Participants should have the ability to comfortably ski moderate, ungroomed terrain in ski areas.
Physical Fitness Training
Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
- Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.
For this Ski Mountaineering Seminar, you are preparing for:
- Ski mountaineering with a 35-45 lb load.
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Below are approximate outlines of the program's physical demands that will be helpful in planning your training schedule and goals:
Total Skiing Time
Elevation Gain / Loss
3 - 4 Hours
Gain = 2,000'
Loss = 1,000'
Gain = 2,500'
Loss = 2,500'
20 - 25 lbs
4 - 6 Hours
Gain = 4,500'
Loss = 1,000'
8 + Hours
Gain = 1,000'
Loss = 5,500'
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
No acclimatization is necessary for this program.
Rainier BaseCamp is located in Ashford, WA and is the home of Rainier Mountaineering, Inc., Whittaker Mountaineering, Whittaker’s Bunkhouse, and Mt. Rainier Visitor Center. Ashford is located 75 miles from the Sea-Tac Airport and most climbers traveling to Ashford will want to rent a car. This is the most convenient and reliable way to get here.
Ride Share: If you are participating in a climb and are interested in sharing a ride to or from Ashford, please post your information in the "Ride Share" forum of your Rainier Discussion Board by logging into your RMI Account.
Other transportation options are:
Seattle Airport Car Service
Keven - Tacoma Yellow Cab
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide our clients with comprehensive travel support. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe. We have been working with Erin for the last 8 years, and she is very knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. Please call (208) 788-2870 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We strongly encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance which covers trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation and repatriation. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection if you have a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Check with the insurance provider for specific coverage details including adventure/sports coverage. Additional cancellation coverage may be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit. However, trip insurance can be purchased at any time prior to the start of your program.
For more information please visit one of the websites below, or contact your local travel agent.
|Travel Guard||Erin Rountree|
Ashford Area Accommodations
|Whittaker's Motel and Historic Bunkhouse||(360) 569-2439|
|Nisqually Lodge||(360) 569-8804|
|Jasmer's at Mt. Rainier||(360) 569-2682|
|Alexander's Country Inn & Restaurant||(800) 654-7615|
|Wellspring Spa & Cabins||(360) 569-2514|
|Guest Services Inc: (Paradise Inn and National Park Inn)||(360) 569-2275|
|Camping: SW Area||n/a|
|You may also go to VisitRainier.com to search for accommodations in the Ashford area.|
For updated Mt. Rainier weather forecasts, click here.
Please click on the links below to see the Mt. Rainier webcams:
- Paradise view towards Mount Rainier
- Paradise view - East
- Paradise view - West
- Paradise view towards the Tatoosh Range
- Longmire view
- Air Quality Camera
Our guides work hard to ensure your well being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program.
Mt Rainier became the nation's fifth National Park in 1899, some twenty-nine years after it was first climbed. Mt. Rainier National Park encompasses 235,625 acres and is 97% wilderness and 3% National Historic Landmark District. Mt. Rainier, at 14,410', is the most prominent peak in the Cascade Range. It is a dormant volcano that last erupted approximately 150 years ago.
Guided mountaineering activity has taken place from the late 1800's, and The Mountain is still considered a prime training ground for climbing in Alaska, South America and the Himalayas. With more than 20 active glaciers encompassing some 36 square miles of ice, Rainier boasts the largest ice cover of any peak in the lower 48 United States. Its weather can be deceptively gentle or as fierce as encountered on any high mountain anywhere in the world. There is a wealth of information on the Mt. Rainier National Park website. We encourage you to enhance your enjoyment of the climb with some fun facts about the Park and history of climbing there.
General Information on Mt. Rainier National Park (MRNP)
Publications, videos, etc. on the flora, fauna, history, etc. of MRNP
Northwest Interpretive Association - www.nwpubliclands.org
General Mountaineering: publications, videos, etc.
The Mountaineers Book - www.mountaineersbooks.org
Gateway Communities & Activities outside Mt. Rainier National Park
The Challenge of Rainier, by Dee Molenaar
Mt. Rainier - A Climbing Guide, by Mike Gauthier
Mt. Rainier: The Story Behind the Scenery, by Ray Snow
National Geographic Trails Illustrated MRNP topo map
A deposit of $300 per person secures your reservation. Payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or check. Final payment is due 90 days prior to the start of your program, and we will send a payment reminder approximately three weeks before your payment is due. If your final payment is not received within 90 days of the program your reservation will be cancelled and all fees forfeited. Trips departing within 90 days from the reservation date must be paid in full at the time of reservation.
Once we receive written notification (mail, e-mail, or fax) that you are canceling an individual participant or your entire reservation the following fees will apply. A fee of $300 per person will be charged for cancellations made more than 60 days before departure. There will be no refunds for cancellations made less than 60 days before your program. Unfortunately, due to the time-sensitive nature of our business, and the difficulty in re-booking a trip close to departure, we cannot make exceptions to this policy.
Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.
We also reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI is not responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
Change of Date
Date changes are subject to availability and apply only to the current climbing season. Date changes may be requested at anytime up to 30 days prior to your departure date for a $100 fee per person. There are no date changes allowed less than 30 days before departure.
Safety is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them. RMI guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that improve your chance of reaching the summit without compromising the necessary margin of safety.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:
- is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
- honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.
Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions
In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions on all climbing programs, domestic and international.
- Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
- Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
- Ages 18 & above: No restrictions
An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.
Accompaniment by parent or legal guardian is required for the program or climb.
Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.
RMI's program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person's own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.'s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.
If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.