IMG Rainier 3½ Day Summit Climb Itinerary
The Ingraham Glacier/Disappointment Cleaver route on Rainier is a classic ascent route on one of the most well known and recognized mountains in the world and the best "first step" in learning safe glacier travel skills using a proven curriculum and top-notch professional guides and mountaineering instructors.
Day 1 in Ashford at IMG Headquarters (HQ) (directions) at 2:00pm for your pre-climb orientation. This orientation is instrumental in getting you outfitted, informed, packed and educated prior to departure the following morning. Topics to be covered include an introduction to your climbing team; an introduction to Mount Rainier National Park, its mission and ecology; a safety briefing; the examining, issuing and fitting of gear; and instruction on the proper use of safety equipment including helmets, harnesses and avalanche beacons. Lodging is not provided the night of Day 1.
Day 2 Meet at HQ at 8:00am for an early departure to the trailhead at Paradise (5420 ft.) in Mount Rainier National Park. Plan on a long day; hiking and climbing for roughly 5-6 hours and gaining 4,600 ft. over the 4½ miles to Camp Muir. Along the way, the guides will introduce efficient climbing techniques including pace, rest-stepping, breathing, break procedures, clothing layering systems, food and water intake requirements and other essential climbing skills. We will spend the night in tents at Camp Muir overlooking the Nisqually and Cowlitz glaciers and the rugged Tatoosh range to the South.
Day 3 This day is less physically demanding than Day 1 and helpful for recovery and acclimatization. After a casual breakfast, we will conduct a glacier travel and mountaineering skills training school on the Cowlitz Glacier adjacent to Camp Muir. The team gathers all gear from Camp Muir and ropes up for the first glacier crossing, putting our newly learned skills to practice. A short trek across the Cowlitz Glacier leads to steeper travel up a scree trail through Cathedral Gap. From there, we'll step onto the Ingraham Glacier and climb a short distance to a broad, flat section of the glacier. A pre-established camp at "The Flats" is waiting for us after our 1½ hour climb. This camp at 11,400ft offers a stunning view of the precipitous north face of Little Tahoma, the third tallest peak in Washington, and the spectacular Ingraham and Emmons Glaciers. An informational meeting with the guides will take place in the afternoon followed by an early dinner and a short night's sleep.
Day 4 The summit day will begin with an alpine start waking as early as 10PM for a hot drink and instant breakfast. After all teams are roped up, we'll make our way up the Ingraham Headwall (early season only) or onto the Disappointment Cleaver (typically accessible by mid-season) eventually gaining the upper glaciated slopes of Mt. Rainier. Throughout the day, the guides will be directing their rope teams, providing instruction, safety feedback and hands-on training of safe climbing techniques. We'll ascend glaciated terrain to the very top, finally ending at the summit crater. We'll spend an hour or more on top and walk over to the true summit, Columbia Crest, 14, 410ft (weather permitting). During our descent, we'll navigate the glaciers back down to the Flats, utilizing all the skills we have learned during the climb. Here we'll take a short rest before moving an hour lower down the mountain to Camp Muir. After a break, the team will continue down to Paradise where our van will be waiting to shuttle us back to Ashford. Our 3-day climb, including the 12-14 hour summit-day, culminates with a group debrief and awarding of certificates of achievement by the guides.