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I remember my first mountaineering trip to climb Mount Baker with the Outdoor Education Program from the University of Utah. The amount of equipment that I had no familiarity with was completely overwhelming.
Fast forward 8 years later and a few weeks ago, a few of us from Second Ascent had the opportunity to climb Rainier while testing out some new equipment. We all come from varying backgrounds....Hannah who's climbed and skied Rainier over 50 times, Andy (our climbing buyer) had never been on Rainier but is a skilled ice climber and really strong rock climber. And then there's Brennan & Trent (our footwear gurus) and myself who, amongst the three of us, have climbed or been on Rainier 5-6 times.
While only 2.5 hours from Seattle and at 14,410' Rainier is a very attainable goal. This mountain seems to have its own weather system... A week earlier the weather, temperatures and wind looked calm and ideal. But once Wednesday arrived, a day before our voyage, Rainier's weather forecast, had changed significantly.
My goal is to provide a clear concise way to look at what to wear and pack for a typical summer ascent of Rainier without going to in-depth with crevasse rescue equipment and the 10 essentials.
I Clothing - I utilize every bit of clothing I bring with me. The key here is layering, versatility, nothing excessive and NO COTTON! (for obvious reasons)
-Smartwool 150gm Bottoms - same benefits as listed above.
-Patagonia Simple Guide Pant- Lightweight and synthetic. Grey and khaki are ideal for not soaking up all the solar heat. Great for summer and winter use as I tend to adjust the how warm I want them to be by choosing the correct baselayer.
-Patagonia R1-provides nice warmth and loft beneath my wind shirt
-Patagonia Houdini Windshirt- One of the greatest jackets I've ever owned. This windshirt (water resistant not waterproof) keeps light rain off, breathes incredibly well, and keeps me protected from the wind. Packs down to the size of a small baseball.
-Mont Bell Alpine Light Down Parka- I leave this in the top of my bag at all times making it easily accessible for when I stop to take a break or need it for around camp. At just 13.3 oz it makes a nice addition to staying warm in your sleeping bag or wear it around camp.
-Julbo Explorer Glacier Glasses- There is nothing worse than fried eye balls. Protect your pupils with the dark lenses and side shields of some quality French eyewear.
Your sleeping bag is only as good as your sleeping pad. Sleeping bag ratings are completely subjective and since I sleep fairly warm this allows me to get away with just a Montbell 800 fill #3 30 degree Down Hugger for summer time use. At 1lb 8oz, it is definitely one of the lightest sleeping bags on the market and it packs down to the size of a miniature football. When mountaineering or doing anything in the winter owning a sleeping pad with an R-Value of 4 or higher is key! Keep in mind that you're sleeping on snow and a poorly insulated pad will zap all the warmth you created within your cocoon. The Exped DownMat UL 7 paired with a Thermarest Z Lite Sol is sure to keep you high off the ground and warm. Since I'm a sucker for comfort and getting a good night's sleep, I like having the Exped Air Pillow. It packs down to the size of a matchbox and it stuffs easily with my sleeping pad. I never notice the extra 75 grams of extra weight it adds to my system.
III Technical Gear
-30 meter Glacier rope
-Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons
-Black Diamond Raven Ultra Ice Axe or Petzl Glacier
-Boots: 3-Season Options (non-insulated) Salewa Raven Combi, Scarpa Charmoz, 4-season Options (insulated) Scarpa MontBlanc Pro, LaSportiva Nepal Cubes
-Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet
-Black Diamond Couloir Harness
-crevasse rescue kit
If you're gearing up for Rainier or any other voyage and need some direction from some very knowledgable staff, drop on by Second Ascent. Until next time - SA