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Expedition Skills Seminar - Kautz

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    $3440 *
    6 days
    Level 3

    *We require that all climbers and guides have received the primary COVID-19 vaccination series (1 or 2 doses depending on manufacturer) to join our programs.


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Expedition Skills Seminar - Kautz

Expedition Skills Seminar - Kautz

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


  • 2 days of foundational skills training and 4 days of extensive practical training while climbing Mt. Rainier's Kautz Route, a beautiful and moderately technical line on the south side of Rainier.
  • An expedition-style climb allows us to establish successive tented camps as we ascend the mountain in preparation for our summit bid.
  • Climb the exciting and challenging Kautz Ice Chute, a 30 to 50 degree snow and ice section of the route.
  • Develop strong technical skills and gain foundational mountaineering experience.


Our Expedition Skills Seminar on the Kautz Route climbs an intermediate route on Mt. Rainier while developing mountaineering skills. After a Technical Training Day and a Mountaineering Day School, we ascend the Kautz 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 high camp.

Climbing a less traveled route, our Expedition Skills Seminar – Kautz, takes advantage of the beauties of the prime-climbing season on Mt. Rainier while ascending an exciting and more remote route. The Kautz Route is a great adventure for physically fit climbers ready for a slightly more technical adventure on 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 - Kautz 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.

Address comments to:
Superintendent | Mount Rainier National Park
55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304

These services are operated in an area under jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior. No discrimination by segregation or other means in the furnishing of services or privileges on the basis of race, creed, color, ancestry, sex, age, disabling condition or national origin is permitted in the use of this facility. Violation of this prohibition are punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.

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 [email protected].

Climber Reviews

Filter By
It was a privilege to see all four guides in action, and I learned a lot just by watching how they operated both individually and as a team. They worked really well as a team, and their level of expertise, discussion of rationale and risk, openness to questions, and overall support and senses of humor made me feel comfortable and safe throughout the trip. More tactically, getting to climb the ice chute was pretty awesome and made the whole trip worth it (summit or not).
Lia B.

The whole trip from start to finish was amazing. Really enjoyed the hands-on learning and practicing our newly learned skills! Had more time to rest than expected, which was nice. Guides were professional, friendly, and accommodating.
Joe J.

The thing I like about RMI is you know what you're going to get in a trip. By that I mean the pace, breaks, gear, expectations, etc are all consistent and I really really like that. It means a lot when I train and prepare to have an understanding of how RMI climbs. This, more than anything, is what I enjoyed the most about the trip. The whole experience was amazing of course but overarching the climbing itself is the fact that RMI has a standard way of mountaineering that I love and appreciate.
Max G.

It was awesome spending time in an alpine environment with some good friends and knowledgeable guides. I was able to learn lots from the guides from watching them make decisions and their lectures were also pretty fun. It's great to climb with a company that wants us to embody climbing.
Sousheel V.

I began this expedition nervous and anxious and ended up having this extreme desire to do it again really soon. My guides Tatum, Jess Hannah and Augie all made the experience. Tatum took care to show me compassion through my fears and doubts that pushed me to my limits and beyond. She is truly gifted and guiding. This guiding team worked so well together like they have been working together for 10 years. Thanks for the amazing experience ❤️
Allyson K.

Having the opportunity to learn more beyond just the basic snow school training (crevasse rescue, anchors, etc.) was really helpful. I also liked having the opportunity to travel a less popular route (Kautz vs. DC). The guides also were great!
Jocelyn B.

Learning. I had no clue what I was getting into w/ this trip, and am thankful to have had 3 great guides. Beyond a gear list and general fitness, I was woefully underprepared for snow hiking conditions let alone rope etc skills. Slogging through the slush and laying in tents twiddling at thumbs during the storm isn't most people's ideal vacation. For me though, it gave me an infinitely better glimpse into what real mountaineering is like vs the easy hiking I had previously done. Building camp, traveling in a rope team, and practicing anchor building/rescues were all highlights. There is a long ways to go b/w this trip and an expedition like Denali, but I feel confident that the Kautz seminar gave me a solid foundation to practice skills and take on greater peaks.
John M.

Building confidence / reinforcing what I've been learning/practicing all winter. Being able to ask super experienced/knowledgeable guides 1000 questions.
Travis T.

Learning mountaineering skills and being able to apply them right away was my favorite part. Even though we didn't summit, getting a detailed breakdown from Dustin and Tatum (who scouted the approach) of their decision making process for a go/no-go was extremely helpful
Ilya D.

I most enjoyed learning on this trip. Our guides were very knowledgeable and good teachers
Scott S.

I loved learning about the mountain's ecology, tying knots, and bonding with the team over the course of the expedition.
Louisa G.

Gaines S.

The other guests were wonderful and tough. Guides were personable and really worked their tails off to help us. Felt very safe. The rock step and ice chute were fun/novel…not a slog. Camp by Wapowty bivy at 13,000 feet was not the usual
Jackie L.

Everything was great. Luck out with perfect weather.
Jeffrey K.

All of the guides were really good. They were extremely knowledgeable and professional but also made the trip fun. They gauged the abilities of the group well and tailored each day accordingly. The overall route was really fun and made for a unique experience.
Michael K.

Everything was very well organized, from the early training sessions to transportation to the climb itself. It all appeared seamless, but it obviously took a lot of hard work to pull that off. I always knew what was happening next.
Ian S.

The skills I learned went far beyond what I was expecting, and the instruction I received was invaluable.
Avery M.

I enjoyed being able to undertake an extremely challenging trip while never having to worry about the safety of myself or the team. It was a non-stop learning environment and i thoroughly enjoyed everyone on the mountain with us.
Stanton P.

I really enjoyed learning new skills like crevasse rescue and ice climbing. I also loved being on the mountain for 4 days and getting the chance to form solid relationships with my teammates.
Sarah S.

Everything! Great guides! Fun route! A great team who's skills, fitness, and personalities all integrated well.
Brian G.

Summit day! It was long but the views and experience were so worth it. The Kautz was way more fun than the DC route. Also loved the day after the summit where we came down early and got to pick the guides’ brains more.
Anna C.

The 4 guides we had were amazing and the training was great. I couldn't have asked for a better experience. The comfort of using a guide service made this trip possible and sparked an interest in future excursions.
Tim B.

I really enjoyed spending time with each of the guides during the seminar lessons. By spending time with each of them I was able to learn multiple different ways of doing the same thing as well as their own little tips and tricks.
Travis K.

For me it's about the whole experience. Challenging myself on difficult terrain, meeting whatever adversity comes along, the downtime on the mountain and interacting with the rest of the team. It means a ton to me being able to participate in something like this, even though this climb was a real ass kicker.
Kenneth C.

The hands on experience with each of the demonstrated skills.
Jason F.

The Kautz was amazing! The knowledge and strength of the guide team led by Andy Bond turned this challenging climb into a successful summit.
Danny G.

The climb was great, and I really enjoyed all the hands-on instruction
Randy T.

It was as real as it can get and the guides were amazing never would have made it to the top with out them.
Eli G.

We got to climb the ice chute and get to the top. However even when the weather was poor our guides kept teaching. Poor weather skills, how to hunker down, build your tent in a gale, cooking in terrible weather. They made the most of every moment.
Keir W.

I recommend RMI to every one I know who might like to climb Rainier or other guided mountains. I am one of your best cheerleaders
Paul M.

The climb was a little harder that I expected (particularly on summit day) and I was glad I trained as much as I did. I'm not sure if there is more that you could do to make sure everyone is prepared, but physical fitness is the key to a great trip.
Kevin C.

Sleeping above the clouds, and under the sky. Ice climbing. Crossing crevasse bridges. I signed up to do more technical climbing during this trip, so those elements were the highlights for me.
Jeroen M.

Fun, exciting route, great guides, nice team camaraderie. Great experience that will undoubtedly stick with me for a while.
Lucas W.

Can't think of anything that could be improved, weather was perfect, guides were awesome, perfect climb.
Chris J.

I enjoyed the level of professionalism from the guides, and how well everything was planned.
Armaan D.

I learned so much! Everything was new and all of the guides did a great job of slowing everything down and making it easy to follow. We also had a great team so meeting other people who are passionate about adventure was awesome. Really fun to be around that kind of energy.
Caleb H.

Great guides. Excellent skills training. A super group of fellow climbers. And the route was incredible!
Jim C.

Best Mountain Guiding Company in the World bar none.
Ben S.

I really enjoyed the quality of the people involved, especially the guides. Their commitment to our safety was immaculate, but beyond that, they were just a blast to hang out with for a week.
Austin A.

This trip was definitely about learning new skills and doing something I have never done before but the thing I enjoyed most were the people I have met. The guides whose skills and knowledge helped us achieve our personal goals (they had the knowledge to know when to push us when we were ready to give up) and the climbers who just 6 days earlier were total strangers and now were friends for years to come.
Anna J.

I enjoyed every aspect of the trip. It was very well organized. The guides and the participants were quite helpful and wonderful people. Had a blast.
Vishwanath K.

Coming down in the storm brought me out of my comfort zone which is always good.
Andrew S.

The instruction from the guides. It was very educational for me to be able to ask questions throughout the seminar and the guides enthusiasm for sharing their experience and knowledge made it a lot of fun.
Derek F.

The guides were very knowledgeable and professional. I had 100% confidence in the guides and their ability to provide the highest level of safety.
Larry B.

Jake and the other guides created a team environment. While it was very clear who was directing the trip he helped make it feel as it was a team trip. As the slowest and oldest member of the team it was Jake, Chase, Jeb, and Nick who provided encouragement for me to complete the climb.
Scott T.

How convenient everything was from start to finish. Professionalism of guides and staff (Store, Grill, Bunkhouse, Rainier Approach).
John D.

The friendships forged with the guides and other climbers. I would gladly climb with all of them again in the future!
Kevin T.

The learning and guidance provided were what I was looking for. Top notch delivered.
Chris F.

Being with the entire team for the week. I didn't summit due to apprehension of going up the Kautz ice-wall. This is my first big mtn climb. I plan to return next year and am already training. I am also preparing to due some climbing to get more comfortable with this before 2016. A day doesn't go by without thinking of the trip and really wish our guides and team the best. They were a great group.
Jerry S.

I was able to stay focused on what was going on for me. I get totally confident in RMI and our 4 amazing guides that I was able to use my mental energy to keep an eye on my physical needs and what was directly in front of me. I was also able to 'sit back and relax' (so to say) and enjoy my 6 days I spent with RMI. This is a directly result of the planning and organization of RMI and particularly the hard work and dedication of our 4 amazing guides.
Jeff G.

Our group really came together and was a team. I can see how these climbs could end up as a bunch of solo climbers just wanting to get to the top, however, RMI created a atmosphere where we all became friends before heading up the mountain and we motivated each other to keep going even when it seems impossible. I feel like I met some great friends on this climb that I will continue to climb with in the future.
Jeven D.

I enjoyed the group mentality of the trip. You really feel like you are working as a team. I don't meet a lot of people like this in my day-to-day life. It really feels like I'm truly living when I'm out on these trips. Everybody helps everybody else out without hesitation, something that seems to be hard to find nowadays.
Tom M.

In addition to being an exciting and successful climb, the Kautz Expedition Skills Seminar thoroughly covered a variety of mountaineering techniques, technical skills and safety practices. Whether in camp or actively climbing, I felt I was always learning something, always broadening my knowledge base. Having completed this program, I feel more confident in my abilities and am eager to take on future climbing objectives.
Lee D.

Climbing on the ice.... and reaching the summit. Was really cool to see some of the less traveled parts of mountain.
Kirk M.

I enjoyed meeting the other climbers the most.
Fintan M.

I learned a lot during the clinics on belays and crevasse rescue. I also was impressed with the level of attention the guides paid to safety and explaining the protection they were building, particularly as we climbed the Kautz ice chute.
Scott W.

We had a unique experience with the tents being lost which turned a great summit experience into a challenge that was incredible to watch unfold and see the team--clients and guides alike--rise to the challenge with flying colors. It was inspiring to see all four guides setting fixed ropes and anchors down the Fan in the middle of the night despite being awake for 24 hours, and gave the clients a fantastic challenge to rise above and surmount. The summit was secondary to the challenging journey, which made the real lasting memories that I'll take with me.
Kurt S.

The guides and clients.I can't stop saying how much I appreciate the guides. I've used other guides and these guys rock. I lost some expensive gear from the tents blowing off but it was well worth the experience that we all enjoyed. Even the guides were stoked on our epic 26 hour day. One of the most rewarding points of the trip was sitting on the bottom of the fan and turning off our head lamps to look at the stars. It was an awesome peaceful reflection of enjoying our glorious long journey. I paid for a trip to learn and experience mountaineering and ended up having one of the most enjoyable experience ever. This will always rank high as the funner times in life. Thanks!!!!
Joe D.

It was totally what I expected, exciting, fun, great guides, and a great learning experience that will get me ready for other,bigger mountains. Most of all I loved how the guides, Zeb, Elias, Steve, and Nick were always considering our safety. This is very important to me... I trust them 100% and thats why I will go back to RMI and recommend RMI. All of them had a great attitudes the entire time and as a small business owner with 12 full time employees and over 2 dozen freelance employees at any given time, I would love to find employees like them! They could not have been better - all four of them!
Michael W.

Listening to the guides speak about climbing and hearing their passion for what they do.
Charlie M.

Mark B.

Learning ice climbing and crevasse rescue techniques
Mike M.

Enjoyed learning from all the guides. Really good down to earth guys and very professional throughout.
Steven S.

Being outside and climbing with great people. Learning new skills.
David S.

On day one, it was the possibilities, on day 6 it was taking off my boots in the parking lot. In between, it was the excellent company, the instruction, the camaraderie, the dune, when it finally cleared up. In all, I loved the whole week - even if some of it was type 3 fun.
John G.

Passing out in the middle of the day after a tough climb.
David G.

Reward of completing the goal of up and over Rainier through the Kautz Ice shoot including all the preparations and work during the 6 days and months leading up to it.
David B.

The summit was the icing on the cake, but the most liberating thing for me was making it up the Kautz Glacier and then the ice chute. I was fully aware on that day of the area's of my training that fell short and have a much better idea of what my specific training goals need to be on another climb like this. Again, Levi was incredible. He adjusted to my abilities and got me through some very challenging times. I like to be pushed to and just beyond my limits and this trip definitely did just that.

kautz ice chutelast camp at wilson (?) flats
Eric A.

The decisions of theguides, the itinerary, the mountain experience
Mike M.

Learning new skills and gaining a respect for the alpine environment.
Andrew W.

Glissading down 1500 ft to camp three after a successful summit!
Josh B.

The continuous instruction before and during the trip up the mountain. Having guides that could answer all of my questions really helped me progress in my development of mountaineering fundamentals.
Patrick M.

Learning mountaineering skills, Seth's enthusiasm/stories and the guides in general.
Philip G.

Seth and Nick were great guides and I really enjoyed getting to know them. Leah and Rob were fantastic as well but Seth and Nick were with us for the 2 days of training before the mountain so we got to know them a little better.
Chris D.

The route and the guides.
Eric Y.

Learning from Eric on summit day . learned a lot about decision making it will take
Andy M.

Table of Contents
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Day 1


8:00 a.m. - 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.

The Mountaineering Day School

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


Early morning start at Rainier BaseCamp. After a quick team meeting we load the shuttle and drive to the trailhead at Paradise (5,400').

From Paradise (5,400'), we cross the Nisqually Glacier to our first camp on the mountain, between 6,000' - 8,000'. As we move towards camp, we review the foundational skills that make us more efficient and capable climbers, including dressing appropriately for the weather and workload, kicking steps and climbing in balance on snow, and efficient pacing that allows us to climb comfortably.

Approach To The Kautz

Day 4


We use the western edge of the Wilson Glacier as our classroom before breaking camp and moving to our High Camp at the western edge of the Turtle snowfield between 9,400' - 10,500'. In the afternoon, we focus on the skills and preparation necessary for a successful ascent, and pay specific attention to the techniques required for current conditions on the upper mountain.

Move To High Camp

Day 5


Today we put it all together and make our attempt on the summit. The spectacular 35-50 degree Kautz ice chute begins the ascent. Pouring through the ring of ice cliffs above 11,000', this is exciting and challenging climbing as the route climbs steeply for several hundred feet to access the glaciers leading to the summit. We may utilize running belays or fixed lines for this part of the ascent, as dictated by the route conditions. The higher slopes of the mountain then take us up the upper Kautz and Nisqually glaciers to the summit of the mountain.

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 High Camp. 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!

Summit Day

Summit Day

Day 6


On the final day of the program we descend to Paradise and drive back to Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford. With our gear unloaded in Ashford, it is time to 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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This trip is open to all individuals in excellent physical condition. There are no technical climbing prerequisites to join this program.

  • Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life
    And Then Go
    Climb A Mountain

    Create A Fitness And Training Program

    Go To Fitness Resources

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 the Expedition Skills Seminar - Kautz, you are preparing for:

  • Steep hiking, climbing and glacier travel with a 50-60 lb load
  • A 12+ hour summit day
  • Mountaineering techniques requiring core strength and flexibility

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 Hiking Time
Elevation Gain / Loss
Total Distance
Pack Weight
2 - 2 ½ Hours
Round Trip
Gain = 1000'
Loss = 1000'
4 Miles
Round Trip
20 - 25 lbs
3 hours
Gain = 1,000' - 2,500'
Loss = 500'
1.5 - 2 Miles
50 - 60 lbs
4 - 5 Hours
Gain = 2,500' - 4,500'
1 - 1.5 Miles
50 - 60 lbs
12 +  Hours
Round Trip
Gain = 4,000'
Loss = 4,000'
8 Miles
Round Trip
20 - 25 lbs
3 - 4 Hours
Loss = 5,000'
3 Miles
50 - 60 lbs

Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.


Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize. Climbers in excellent physical condition simply have more energy to commit to the acclimatization process throughout the days and nights of the ascent, allowing their bodies to adjust to the altitude more easily.

While the key to climbing high is proper acclimatization, this climb effectively moves up and down the mountain at a rate that exceeds our body’s ability to adjust (acclimate) to the high altitude. This is true whether a program spends 2 days or 5 days on the upper mountain (elevations above 10,000 feet). During our short climb, our bodies simply do not have the time to completely adjust to the altitude, and because of this short stay, our bodies do not typically succumb to altitude’s ill effects. In short, climbers generally experience the mild but uncomfortable, yet normal, symptoms of their bodies beginning the adjustment process. While climbers will feel better rested on the slightly longer programs, fitness remains the key factor in a climber’s performance.

In addition, physical performance at altitude is often related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days and weeks prior to summit day. Arriving healthy and well-rested, maintaining proper hydration and caloric intake, and protecting against unnecessary heat loss (staying warm) are usually key factors in an individual’s success on a short-term visit to altitude.

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What You’ll Need

A list of required personal equipment accompanies every RMI program, and the thought process behind each item is much greater than simply “preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.” The list for your program takes into account factors such as: seasonality, route conditions, weather, elevation and more. As such, this list is framed within the broadest of contexts and is dynamic by its very nature. Therefore, certain variables (additions and/or subtractions) are inherent within such an all-encompassing list. We make every effort to recommend only top of the line clothing and technical gear and it is never our intention for you to buy or rent unnecessary gear.

The Guide Pick is an example of the listed item, giving you an idea of the material and specifications of the item. This exact item does not need to be purchased or used; however, any item you choose must have similar characteristics and performance abilities to the Guide Pick.

RMI Guides concur on the potential necessity of every item, thus every item on the list is required at gear check. However, guides may also have suggestions derived from their experience, some of which will vary from a given list. The guides’ recommendation whether to bring along or leave behind certain item(s) comes during the gear check, when the team first meets. Occasionally this recommendation comes at the expense of having previously purchased an item. If a guide presents the option of leaving behind certain item(s) on the list of required equipment, it is for a reason. Their recommendation may be related to the weather, route conditions, freezing level, perceived strength of the party, or desired pack weight.

Ultimately, there will never be a consensus for a “perfect” equipment list for an ascent. It does not exist because of the multitude of variables faced by climbers throughout the climb. Please follow this equipment list closely so that you will arrive for the gear check with all the required items. Keep in mind the list is not black and white, fine tuning will occur once you meet with your guide. Have a great climb!

  • Whittaker Mountaineering 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 RMI2023 at checkout. This offer excludes sale items, rentals, meal packages, and Feathered Friends.

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

Equipment List

    • Image of 85+ LITER BACKPACK

      Your pack must be large enough for your layers, climbing gear, and food, as well as a portion of your tent and your share of group equipment. The pack volume you choose depends on your experience and the quality of your gear; if you opt for a smaller pack, practice packing and make sure you can fit all of your gear with room to spare. You will not need a separate summit pack.


      A full-length closed cell foam pad, used in combination with the inflatable sleeping pad.

    • Image of ICE AXE
      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.


      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. If you rent a harness, a triple-action carabiner is included.


      Used for clipping into the climbing rope. Harness rentals include this carabiner.


      Transceivers are worn on the upper mountain during your summit attempt. If you rent a transceiver fresh batteries will be provided.


      For practicing fixed line travel. You guides will also provide one to practice with. Most people prefer an ascender designed for their weak hand, leaving their strong hand free to hold their ice axe. For example, a right-handed person would use a left-handed ascender.

    • Image of ' ACCESSORY CORD

      7 mm cordelette in one continuous length OR one 240cm dyneema sling.


      Cloth or surgical face mask for use in situations where 6 feet of distance from others cannot be maintained.

    • Image of GLACIER GLASSES

      Glacier glasses are protective sunglasses that provide close to 100% frame coverage (wrap-around frames and side shields ensure no light can enter from the top, bottom, and sides of the glasses) and transmit less than 10% of visual light.

    • Image of 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.

  • Hands

    Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.

  • Guide Pick™

  • Upper Body

    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, softshell, down, and synthetic options.

  • Guide Pick™


      Your expedition-style heavy parka must extend below the waist, have an insulated hood, and be able to fit over the rest of your upper body layers. While the parka is worn primarily at rest breaks on summit day, it also serves as an emergency garment if needed. We recommend down rather than synthetic fill.

  • Lower Body

    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.

  • Guide Pick™


      A light weight, synthetic pair of pants is a good option for the approach trek when hiking at lower altitudes and in warm conditions. These pants have no insulation, are typically made of thin nylon, and commonly feature zippers to convert between pants and shorts.


      Boots are one of the most important pieces of mountaineering gear, and bringing the right pair is critical to your safety and success on Mt. Rainier. You will need one pair of boots for this climb, and the type of boot you wear will be dictated by freezing level. If the freezing level is below 10,000 feet, your guide will require the use of double boots. If the freezing level is above 10,000 feet, you may use either single or double boots. We consistently see freezing levels below 10,000 feet in April, May, June, and September, though periods of cold weather are not uncommon in July and August.

      If this is your first time climbing, we highly recommend renting boots from our partner company Whittaker Mountaineering. Mountaineering boots do not break in like normal footwear so there is not much advantage in buying them unless you want to see how they feel on your feet before the climb or plan on doing more mountaineering in the future. If you rent, you can switch between single and double boots the day of your climb.


      Our guides carry comprehensive medical kits, so keep yours small and light. We recommend a selection of adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, Moleskin and blister care, medical tape and/or duct tape, basic pain reliever, and personal medications.

    • Image of MEALS & SNACKS

      You are responsible for providing your own meals and snack food in town and while on Mt. Rainier. See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.

    • Image of BOWL

      Packable plastic bowl. Collapsable models can work but must be handled carefully to avoid unintended collapsing. A lid is a great feature.

    • Image of INSULATED MUG

      Insulated outdoor-style mug. We recommed a model with a removable lid, which helps retain heat and prevent spills. You may also choose to use 0.5L insulated bottle or a 0.5L nalgene.

    • Image of SPOON OR SPORK

      A spoon or spork made of durable plastic or anodized metal. A long-handled spoon can be nice, especially if eating from a freeze-dried meal pouch.

    • Image of WATER BOTTLES
      2 - 3 WATER BOTTLES

      One-liter water bottles with wide mouths made of co-polyester (BPA-free plastic). No hydration systems as they tend to freeze on the upper mountain and be hard to fill. Cold water for drinking is provided.


      Heavy-duty trash compacter bags for use as waterproof pack/stuff sack liners. You can also use a a waterproof pack liner.


      Include toilet paper, hand sanitizer, toothbrush and toothpaste, and wet wipes. Bring a quantity appropriate to the duration of your trip.

    • Image of SUNSCREEN

      We recommend small tubes of SPF 30 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.

    • Image of EAR PLUGS

      Spare prescription glasses if you wear contact lenses/eyeglasses.

    • Image of CAMERA (OPTIONAL)

      Many smartphones have excellent cameras. Action cameras, small point-and-shoots, and compact dSLRs are lightweight and work well at altitude.

    • Image of TRAVEL CLOTHES

      We recommend bringing a selection of comfortable clothing to wear while traveling as well as pre- and post-trip.

    • 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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On the Expedition Skills Seminar - Kautz you will need 5 mountain lunches, 3 dinners, and 3 breakfasts while on the mountain.

Mountain Lunches

Mountain lunches are eaten during short breaks throughout the day. We continually snack to keep our energy levels up while we climb - lunch begins just after breakfast and ends just before dinner! Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.

The importance of having foods that are genuinely enjoyed cannot be overstated. Eating properly is the key to maintaining strength while in the mountains. In order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude we aim to have a variety of foods that stimulate the whole palate, from sweet to sour to salty.

Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, toffees, Life Savers), gummy bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).


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. We also recommend your bring hot beverage mixes such as coffee, tea, cocoa, or cider.

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.

  • Consider a Whittaker Mountaineering Meal Package For Well Balanced Meals
    Designed By Climbers For Climbers

    Reserve Your Meal Package

    Go To Whittaker Mountaineering


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

We use a 1 guide per 2 climber ratio on the Kautz Glacier route.

What is the maximum group size?

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


There are three main categories that generally prevent climbers from reaching the summit: weather, route conditions, and individual fitness. 


In an average year, 21% of our climbs do not reach the summit due to weather, route conditions, or both. 
Avalanche hazards, high winds, poor visibility, rain, and snow, can singly or in conjunction with the other elements, impact our ability to safely climb. Your guides are charged with managing the risks encountered on the climb and maintaining a reasonable margin of safety. 

If weather conditions reduce our margin of safety to an unacceptable level, we will no longer be able to climb. This may mean we turn around, or we may not even ascend above camp.


On Mt. Rainier, guides work on the route continually throughout the climbing season. Route work involves rerouting to avoid hazards. This can include overhead (icefall and rockfall) and underfoot (crevasses and steep slopes) hazards. As the route becomes more complex and steeper throughout the season, route work can include kicking steps, chopping, shoveling, setting running belays, fixed lines, and ladders. Some changes occur daily on the route and may necessitate a quick fix by your guide team during a climb. A larger reroute may be needed multiple times throughout our season, requiring a guide team to work multiple days to establish a new route. 

Generally speaking, the route is never closed or “out,” and there is usually a way to the top. However, it might not have the appropriate margin of safety needed for our climbers (it might require more advanced mountaineering skills and experience levels).  When this happens, all the guide services on the mountain coordinate resources to establish a new route. Like mountain weather, we manage but can’t control the climbing route, and it is not unheard of for the route to be unclimbable for multiple days. While the route work is being done, we will ascend with our climbers as high as is safely possible and appropriate on the existing route. 


Fitness is the one factor that you have the most control of, and that has the highest impact on your success, safety, and fun. 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. The length of the climbing route dictates the required fitness for the climb. We do not have fast or slow rope teams – our teams move at a steady pace determined by the duration and complexity of the given route. 

Climbers do have control over their ability to affect their mental fortitude to some extent, and their fitness, to a very large extent. Therefore, you can maximize your chances of a successful summit climb by focusing on individual fitness. Over 50 years of guiding climbers on Mt. Rainier has shown us that the following factors have the largest influence on a climber’s ability to reach the summit. 

Age: We can’t control it; we get older every year. Simply put, the older you are, the more fit you need to be. As we age, our max heart rate decreases, leaving us with a smaller heart rate reserve. Hard efforts feel harder, and we can’t sustain the same intensity efforts for as long. Focusing on your fitness regime is the best way to compensate.

Body Mass Index (BMI): Your BMI is not as significant as your age and is not the best representation of fitness. However, if we use BMI as a corollary for whether an individual is at a healthy weight, slightly overweight, or significantly overweight, then BMI data shows that climbers with a BMI in the normal range (18.5 - 24.9) will have a better chance of reaching the summit than climbers with a higher BMI.

Aerobic Threshold: Our aerobic threshold is the level of intensity (or heart rate) at which your metabolism switches from a sustainable level of effort in which your muscles can replenish their energy stores at the same rate they burn them to one in which they are burning more than they can replenish. Beyond this intensity, our performance is necessarily time limited. Performance in endurance sports is highly reliant on Aerobic Threshold. Your Aerobic Threshold can be changed significantly with training.

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