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Expedition Skills Seminar - Emmons

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    6 days
    Level 3

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Expedition Skills Seminar - Emmons

Expedition Skills Seminar - Emmons

RMI's Expedition Skills Seminar - Emmons is a six day instructional mountaineering course with a summit attempt on Mt. Rainier via the Emmons Glacier route.


  • 2 days of foundational skills training and 4 days of extensive practical training while climbing the largest glacier in the contiguous U.S.: Mt. Rainier’s Emmons Glacier.
  • An expedition-style climb allows us to establish successive tented camps as we ascend the mountain in preparation for our summit bid.
  • Develop strong technical skills and gain foundational mountaineering experience.


Our Expedition Skills Seminar on the Emmons route climbs a classic Mt. Rainier route with emphasis on developing mountaineering skills. After a Technical Training Day and a Mountaineering Day School, we ascend the Emmons route, using the mountain's terrain to learn mountaineering skills such as snow & ice anchors, crevasse rescue, ice climbing, fixed line travel, belaying and other technical skills, before making a summit attempt from our high camp at Camp Schurman.

Utilizing a less traveled route on the northeastern side of Mt. Rainier, our Expedition Skills Seminar – Emmons captures the best aspects of summer climbing on Mt. Rainier's far-flung glaciers. The Emmons Glacier route is truly an endurance climb, beginning on the forested Glacier Basin Trail and ending on the glacier-capped summit of Mt. Rainier.

Our Expedition Skills Seminars are comprehensive training courses designed to educate climbers to the mountaineering skills needed to tackle the world's greatest peaks. Successful completion of the Expedition Skill Seminar - Emmons will make you eligible for many of our expeditions around the world, including Denali, and provides you with a foundation for other major glaciated mountains.


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.

NPS Authorized ConcessionerAuthorized Concessioner

RMI Expeditions is an authorized concessioner of Mount Rainier National Park.

Climate Change

OffsettersAll of our climbs in Mt. Rainier National Park are 100% carbon neutral. We have partnered with Offsetters, Canada's leading carbon management solutions provider, to purchase offsets for our greenhouse gas emissions. Their projects are verified and validated by third parties to ensure that the emission reductions are real, additional, and permanent, so we know that our contribution is making a real difference.

By supporting this project, we prevent the equivalent amount of greenhouse gas emissions that were generated by our operations from being emitted somewhere else. These offsets allow us to achieve our goal of sustainability and further promote responsible environmental practices.

Contact Us

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 info@rmiguides.com.

Climber Reviews

Filter By
Honestly it was more about the climb than the summit. It's the journey that shapes us right? Our team clicked so well. We had many laughs and worked super well together. The guides picked up on this and helped keep our team strong
Keith G.

I like that the guides on our seminar provided direction but did not hold people's hands. The course was set up in a way that prepared the group for more advanced objectives.
William C.

Very rewarding, wonderful experience. It was a true privilege to be on that wonderful mountain with such a great bunch of people!
Stephan S.

I loved getting to experience real mountaineering. I had done other climbs in the cascades before, but none with roping up, ice axes, and heavy duty mountaineering boots/crampons. I liked getting to not only climb Rainier, but to learn a lot of invaluable stuff along the way.
Daniel D.

My experience with RMI was great. What stood out most was your team. It is obvious that RMI has a great company culture. Everyone I interacted with was friendly and helpful. I will definitely be back to climb Rainier again. Next time I do, it will be through RMI. I will use RMI again because of the experience I had with Mike, Jenny, Jessie and Ben.
Ryan B.

The guides, the team and the scenery. I learned alot about safe travel on emaciated terrain.
Tracy L.

The commitment to LNT and the privacy of the mountain was fantastic. I couldn't ask for a more peaceful time on the mountain.
Tyler T.

The guides and the skills - I feel we got everything we were promised.
Olga W.

Absolutely amazing. The entirety of the trip - from interaction with the office staff, to the itinerary and pace of the trip, to the people and guides on it - all stellar. I have recommended your company numerous times in the past and will continue to.
Michael W.

The guides were awesome. The skills that I learned were by far the best part of the trip. The climb itself was a close second.
Jeremy L.

The detailed instruction on climbing and safety. But nothing beat the actual trip to the summit. That is a memory I will never forget.
Robert W.

I thought the guides were the best part of the trip. It's hard to have a great trip if you don't have guides who you click with. They made the trip.
Prescott C.

Learned a ton of skills and loved being on the mountain.
Jared E.

Making such a challenging and sometimes painful experience, so much fun and exciting of an experience. Most of the comments in credit to Mike were what made this an amazing experience. Flawless.
Gareth J.

Learning from people that are passionate about what they do. The guides love the outdoors and it shows.
Paul B.

Not only were the guides amazing but our group was as well. Even though we did not summit the knowledge and experience is unforgettable.
Roseanne A.

The Emmons route was a far different experience than when I climbed the DC route with RMI 5 years ago. From the heavier pack to the longer approach through the forest, it was as if I was on a different mountain. I think overall I enjoyed the challenge of an expedition style approach and the lack of traffic on the route. Can't believe we had both the route and the summit pretty much to ourselves!
Russell F.

The detailed discussions on mountaineering techniques, skills, and equipment. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.
Mike B.

Learning the basic mountaineering and glacier travel skills from a group of guides that were all willing and enthusiastic about teaching and sharing their knowledge.
Tye H.

The skills based learning was the best part. Certainly learned a lot that I will be able to apply toward future climbs.
Peter L.

team comradery, guides sharing knowledge & experience, sense of adventure.
Chris M.

What really made this trip for me was how much we learned. The guides shared so much information with us, and the real-life crevasse practice was also incredibly helpful. I also enjoyed interacting with the guides; it would have been a very different trip if we hadn't had such friendly guides.
Catherine G.

I really enjoyed and thought highly of our guides. They were all very competent, which I expected. But, I genuinely enjoyed spending 6 days with them. They shared lots of knowledge and created an appropriately fun and light atmosphere.
Zach S.

The camaraderie.
Anthony D.

Just the overall challenge, pushing ourselves through some beautiful country. I could not place one thing per se, but it was a collection. While I was not super excited about doing the crevasse rescue when we had a long climb down yet on the final day it actually was really cool and I am glad they had everyone take turns at every position. That sort of hands on style and accountability forces me to learn things much better.
Jeffrey M.

The guides were what made this trip amazing. I can't say enough good things about them!
Jeremy S.

The people (the other clients), the process (itinerary), the learning (the skills seminar), the time spent in the mountains with true professionals (the guides), and the folks that made it happen (the RMI staff).
Scott K.

Meeting people with similar ideas of fun.
Edward S.

The people- guides and other students
Douglas K.

I really enjoyed the seminar format. We had time to really get to know our teammates and guides and take our time getting from camp to camp. I also enjoyed learning rescue techniques and having the chance to ice climb in a crevasse... while still achieving our ultimate goal of summiting.
Shannon W.

RMI did an excellent job. The trip was very enjoyable, the guides were great and I will definitely consider future trips with RMI.
Byron C.

Friendly staff and beautiful mountain! This is what climbing is all about!
William S.

Interaction with amazing guides. Learning.
Ewa B.

I loved getting to know my other group members and enjoying our time on the mountain as a big team
George H.

The guides were so cool, it just made the trip so fun. Also, the summit was cool. The 4 guys worked so good together and their humor was perfect. Encouragement when climbing, and humor and good stories when relaxing.
Bennett D.

the guides. They were all amazing. The leave no trace behind tactics being practiced on the mountain has left the mountain very well preserved. It's a beautiful place.
Tom M.

Great experience, wonderful and knowledgeable guides. Memories that will last a lifetime.
Chad M.

All aspects I enjoyed.
Tamara B.

The cohesiveness of the group and the opportunity to climb with experienced and knowledgeable guides was the best part of the trip, no doubt.
Sam D.

The guides on this trip we're fantastic.
Brian C.

The weather conditions made for great success. Having done the DC last year really provided a good foundation for this year's seminar in terms of expectations for physical demands and further developing technical skills.
Brian B.

Climbing on ropes, camping, climbing with a group.
Steve W.

I most enjoyed interfacing with guides and other clients. Learning their backgrounds and skill sets. The summit was, of course, enjoyable, but I will always remember the people who got me there.
Kearney S.

The challenge, learning new stuff, camaraderie
Andrew B.

I really enjoyed the entire trip. The guides were fun, professional, and knowledgeable, and I felt safe with them the entire time.
Andrew C.

I enjoyed everything about this trip. Summiting was an especially moving experience for me for a variety of reasons, but simply spending time on the mountain and meeting a group of fantastic, fascinating people was wonderful. The guides were exceptional, and the experience was unforgettable. Can't wait for my next climb with RMI.
Jake G.

The comraderie and bonds that formed between our team and our guides. Most of us were strangers before we met at base camp, but the friendships that were established on the peak will far outlast this one climb. We already have our next trip scheduled, and many of us will be climbing together again. I'd love to climb with any of the guides again as well, and plan to look them up as I plan my future climbs.
Brett W.

the great learning. the interactions with the guides and other climbers. a great experience. best mountain experience that i have had so far.
Jeong Y.

I couldnt have hoped to learn as much as I did from the guides throughout the seminar-summit trip. Encouragement from the guides, who could see that I could make the summit when I couldnt see it myself was so great. RMI offers such a great trip and I will be using RMI again next season.
Jake W.

The instruction was great.
Scott W.

The guides were always attentive and provided a professional and rewarding experience. I will use RMI again because of this.
Terry R.

Hanging with the guides. I would seriously pick hanging with this group of guides over handing with my favorite band backstage. I was so impressed by the guides and their professionalism balanaced by their experience. I can't say enough...
Dean J.

Zeb, Robby, Lindsay and Alex
Linn P.

Learning rescue techniques and rope work
Casey C.

The skills like crevasse rescue, ice climbing, rope walking, etc.
Rakesh R.

I really get a kick out of mountaineering. I love being up on the glaciers and going high and having to learn new skills. I particularly enjoy the challenge. Committing to this sport at my age is in many ways life changing. It forces me to set long term diet and physcal fitness goals in a way that I have never experienced before. I think of myself as pretty fit and I lead an active (semi-retired) lifestyle - I hike in the mountains around Sun Valley, ID, I ski there 45 days a year, I play lots of golf and walk (I eschew electric carts), I bike, I fly fish in trout streams (rocky bottoms in current is great for balance) and I love being outside in nature and in the mountains. This sort of adventure simply elevates all of the challenges - I truly understand that to do this you have to be really fit. I understand that there is lots to learn to climb in the mountains safely. I understand that there are objective dangers and that there are conditions and situations beyond our control that may affect whether or not a climb will result in a summit attained. But I have learned that the journey is as much fun and the summit. And by journey, I mean reading about mountaineering, working out to stay fit and building up to the experience. My only regret is that I did not start doing this until I was 61. Thanks to RMI for creating this terrific set of experiences and for making it as safe as possible.
Jim D.

Learning the skills i need from people that really know their stuff.
Dan S.

Views near the summit.
Donald K.

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    6 days
    Level 3
Table of Contents
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Day 1


8:00 - 6:00 p.m.: Meet at 8:00 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford, WA. Please dress casually and bring your climbing equipment and clothing.

We begin our Technical Training 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. These include a detailed equipment discussion and gear check; an introduction to safety practices such as use of helmets, harnesses, and avalanche transceivers; route planning and preparation, instruction regarding Leave No Trace practices and environmental considerations; and a discussion/demonstration of knots, anchors and the first steps toward understanding crevasse rescue. These skills prepare us for our adventure on Mt. Rainier and increase the likelihood of a safe, successful ascent of the mountain.

Please make your own arrangements for the day's meals and a place to stay in the Ashford area for this evening.


Day 2


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. After a team meeting a shuttle takes our group to Paradise.

The Mountaineering Day School is spent training in the field on the lower slopes of Mt. Rainier. Climbers are introduced to many skills, from the basic techniques of efficient mountain travel (rest-stepping and pressure breathing), to various safety practices including use of helmets, harnesses, and avalanche transceivers, cramponing, roped travel, ice axe arrest practice, anchors and running belays, fixed line travel, and the basics of crevasse rescue.

Please make your own arrangements for the day's meals and a place to stay in the Ashford area for this evening.


Over the next four days we ascend the mountain in an expedition style climb, establishing multiple camps to set ourselves up for our summit bid. During this time the group will learn and practice various mountaineering skills such as crevasse rescue, anchor placement, ice climbing, fixed line travel, and self rescue techniques among many others. Evening lectures in camp include discussion on mountain weather, medicine for mountaineering, altitude wellness, equipment and any requested topics that spark your interest.

Day 3

APPROACH TO CAMP 1 (either Glacier Basin or Inter Glacier)

Meet at 6:00 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp. After an early team meeting a shuttle takes our group to the trailhead at the White River Campground (4,400').

We make the 3.3 mile hike, passing through beautiful mature forests, to Glacier Basin, or ascend a bit further to the base of Mt. Rainier's Inter Glacier, to establish camp. As we move towards camp, we work on the foundational skills that make us more efficient and capable climbers, including pressure breathing and using the rest step, dressing appropriately for the weather and workload, kicking steps and climbing in balance on snow, and efficient pacing that allows us to climb comfortably.


Day 4


We ascend the Inter Glacier and climb over the flanks of Steamboat Prow onto the heavily crevassed Emmons Glacier as we move to our high camp, Camp Schurman, 9,440'. At Camp Schurman, we have a great arena to practice additional skills, such as proper placement of snow and ice anchors, crevasse rescue simulations, and ice climbing. In the afternoon we prepare for the summit bid.


Day 5


Today we put it all together and make our attempt on the summit. The Emmons-Winthrop Glacier route climbs the northern edge of the largest glacier in the lower 48 states, the Emmons Glacier. The spectacular 35-degree central ramp of the glacier offers a route by which we access the crevassed slopes of the upper mountain. We thread our way through these immense crevasses toward the summit of Mt. Rainier!

At 14,410 feet, Mt. Rainier is the highest point in Washington. The summit is spectacular with panoramic views from the Pacific to the eastern side of the Cascades when the weather is clear. A large crater dominates the summit, with steam rising out of the cavernous summit vents and the bare ground near the summit is often warm to the touch.

After reaching the summit, we descend back to Camp Schurman. The descent typically requires half the amount of time of 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, the weather, and temperature among others. It is a long and challenging, but rewarding day!

Day 6


On the final day of the program we descend to the trailhead and return to Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford. After all the gear is unpacked, we gather as a team to celebrate our adventure.

The duration of the climb depends on many variables including snow conditions, the time of year, the route conditions, the weather during our climb, the temperature, etc. Those variables often affect our arrival time to Ashford, which might vary dramatically from climb to climb. For this reason we do not recommend scheduling an airline flight before midnight on the last day of your program.



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What You’ll Need

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 when they use code RMI2018 at checkout. This offer excludes sale items, rentals, meal packages, and Feathered Friends.

  • Use Code RMI2018
    To receive 10% off
    All New Equipment

Shop Your Equipment List // Rent new equipment for your climb

Equipment List

    • ICE AXE

      The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm axe; and taller, use a 75 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.


      The 10 to 12 point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. We highly recommend anti-bot plates to prevent snow from balling up underfoot. Rigid frame crampons designed for technical ice climbing are not recommended.


      A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.


      One item for face protection is required. Our primary recommendation is the Buff. A neck gaiter or balaclava is also acceptable.


      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.


      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.

    • 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.


      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.


      Insulated mountaineering boots with completely rigid soles are needed to climb Mt. Rainier. While both leather and plastic boots will work well, each has strengths and weaknesses. Plastic boots (or double boots - a boot with a removable insulated liner) will work all season. Appropriate leather boots (stiff-soled, insulated and designed to hold a crampon) are suitable only for warm weather climbs.
      The freezing level forecasted for the time of your climb will be the best guideline for which boot to wear.  A freezing level below 10,000' will dictate the use of plastic or double boots.  A freezing level above 10,000' will provide the option for either plastic boots, double boots or single leather boots. Freezing levels above 10,000' are only seen on a consistent basis between July 1 and August 15 on Mt. Rainier.  We strongly recommend plastic or double boots outside of this time frame.
      Whether leather or plastic, mountaineering boots are designed to remain stiff for kicking steps and working with crampons. To ensure that your feet do well, mountaineering boots must be comfortable right from the start. If renting boots, consider bringing personal orthotics or foot beds.


      We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.

    • 2 - 3 WATER BOTTLES

      Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required. Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content and BPA-Free are recommended.


      We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.


      Please use the Zip-Lock as your personal trash bag.

    • CAMERA

      Stainless steel or plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content are recommended.

    • Purchase travel insurance.

    • Arrange lodging in Ashford.

    • Reserve rental equipment.

    • Arrange transportation to Ashford.

    • Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!

Provided Equipment

RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, group cooking gear, 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.

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What is the Climber-to-Guide Ratio on this program?

Our climber-to-guide ratio is 2:1 on the Emmons Glacier route.

What is the maximum group size?

The maximum group size of any program anywhere on Mt. Rainier is 12 individuals, including guides.


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