"I loved it! I will be back after I get some more experience under my belt. Mountaineering ROCKS!"
— Jo W. | Read More Testimonials
The Mountaineering Day School introduces climbers to the basic, foundational techniques of mountaineering. Skills covered include:
- Efficient climb and travel techniques including pressure breathing and the rest-step
- Effective crampon use
- Ice axe arrest
- Rope Travel
- Self-care strategies in the mountains
Throughout the daylong course, we use Mt. Rainier's lower slopes to learn and practice various techniques and skills in order to feel comfortable and capable climbing in technical mountaineering terrain. Experienced and talented guides facilitate the instruction of key skills in mountaineering.
This program is ideal of novice climbers seeking to gain confidence in the mountains. Our Mountaineering Day School, taken in coordination with our Crevasse Rescue School, prepares aspiring climbers to safely and smartly attempt a glaciated climb.
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.
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.: Meet at 8:00 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp. Please arrive dressed for hiking and packed with your Mountaineering Day School gear.
*Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford opens at 7:00 a.m. Climbers may register with RMI, pick up rental equipment and purchase last minute items from Whittaker Mountaineering during this time.
We begin the morning with a welcome and introduction of team members and guides. Guides offer final packing and clothing suggestions before a shuttle takes our team to the trailhead at Paradise.
We ascend to our training area just above Paradise on the lower slopes of Mt. Rainier between 6,000' and 6,600'. We introduce a number of skills, from basic techniques of efficient mountain travel (rest-stepping and pressure breathing) through cramponing, roped travel, and ice axe arrest practice. The training is a great introduction to mountaineering for novice climbers as well as refresher for those with previous experience, ensuring that all climbers have the basic skills to climb safely and comfortably on the mountain.
Following the day of training, the shuttle takes our group back to Rainier BaseCamp.
Mountaineering School 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 RMI2015.
Pack & Bag Guides' Pick
BACKPACK: A 40+ liter pack is the recommended size for this climb.
Technical Gear Guides' Pick
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.
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.
HELMET: A UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization) certified climbing helmet. Bicycle or ski helmets are designed for a different type of impact and will not substitute as a climbing helmet.
CRAMPONS: 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.
AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVER: A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.
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.
Hands Guides' Pick
LIGHT WEIGHT GLOVE: One pair of fleece, soft-shell or wind-stopper gloves.
MEDIUM WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant, insulated mountain gloves.
Upper Body Guides' Pick
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.
Lower Body Guides' Pick
UNDERWEAR: Non-cotton briefs or boxers.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Synthetic or wool.
CLIMBING PANT: Soft-shell climbing pants offer a wide range of versatility. You can wear them in combination with the base layer on colder days, or alone on warmer days.
RAIN PANT (HARD SHELL): A waterproof pant with 3/4 side zippers (sometimes called 7/8 or full side zips) are required for facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots and crampons.
LIGHT WEIGHT TREKKING PANT OR SHORTS (OPTIONAL): A lightweight, 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.
Feet Guides' Pick
MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS: 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 will work well all season long and are particularly useful for climbers with colder feet and climbs scheduled in early/late season (mid May - June and September) and require no break in period. Appropriate leather boots (stiff-soled, insulated and designed to hold a crampon) are appropriate for mid season (July/August) and warmer weather climbs. 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.
GAITERS: We recommend a knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots. This will protect you from catching your crampon spikes on loose clothing.
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.
1 - 2 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required.
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.
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: climbing ropes and blue bags (for solid waste disposal). Every guide will carry a first aid kit and two-way radios.
On the Mountaineering Day School you will need one trail lunch and several snacks.
Below are 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.
Mount Rainier Meal Packages
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. There are no technical climbing prerequisites to join this program.
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 Mountaineering Day School, you are preparing for:
- Hiking with a 20-25 lb load
- Mountaineering techniques which require 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
2 - 2 ½ Hours
Gain = 1,000'
Loss = 1,000'
20 - 25 lbs
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 RMI Expeditions, Whittaker Mountaineering, Whittaker’s Bunkhouse, and Mt. Rainier Visitor Center. Ashford is located 75 miles from the Sea-Tac Airport and climbers will need to make arrangements to Ashford. Options include chauffeured service, rental cars or ride share. Please follow the links below to find out more information.
Rainier Approach is our preferred transportation company offering round-trip service from Sea-Tac Airport to Rainier BaseCamp and the Ashford area. (Operates May - September.)
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 can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, and more. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Note that many of the insurance options can be purchased under one policy but some coverage may only be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit or if purchased as an upgrade to an existing policy rather than as a stand-alone option.
Cancellation Insurance: Cancellation insurance offers protection of deposit and registration funds should you need to cancel from a program. This might be due to an injury during training, a personal illness, or it might be due to extenuating circumstances, such as family emergencies. Policies are determined based upon your home state, check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including adventure/sports coverage*.
*Adventure/Sports Coverage: Most standard policies do not cover climbing or mountaineering. You can purchase Adventure/Sports Coverage as an upgrade to a standard policy. Please be sure to check with your provider and their description of coverage to make sure the policy you are purchasing provides you with adequate protection.
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|
|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
Full payment secures your reservation. Payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, or check.
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 $50 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 $25 fee per person. There are no date changes allowed less than 30 days before departure.
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 guides draw from their reserves of experience and training to make sound decisions that improve your program without compromising the necessary margin of safety. Managing risk 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.
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 worse. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge that risk, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
We ask that each participant is physically and mentally fit, is properly attired and equipped, and continues to self-assess throughout the adventure to ensure as safe a program as possible. We ask that 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.
RMI has a goal of achieving the highest possible success rate while maintaining a significant margin of safety on each program. We recognize that mountaineering is an individual challenge as well as a team endeavor. This puts responsibility on individual climbers. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can negatively impact the experience or opportunity of other climb participants. For this reason, when signing up for a program, we strongly encourage you to honestly evaluate your fitness. This will allow RMI to suggest the best program for you, and will allow the greatest opportunity of a safe, successful adventure for all participants.