Mt. Rainier Glacier Skills Seminar WA  •  14,410'  •  4392m

IMG Rainier Glacier Skills Seminar Itinerary

One fundamental aspect of all of IMG's training seminars is that the itinerary varies from course to course. The guides will determine the exact route and camp placement prior to the seminar depending upon the weather, conditions, ability of the group, and skills they want to highlight. There is real opportunity to get away from the crowds and enjoy a unique experience on Mt. Rainier's glaciers. The seminar progresses up the mountain moving from camp to camp, putting the team in position for a summit attempt at the end of the program. Most days will be centered on training and skill exercises, lectures, and informal discussions at camp, but camps will be moved to give participants hands on experience in establishing safe, sheltered and well constructed camps as well as experience in the day to day skills required for extended expedition camp life.

Typical Itinerary

Day 1 — Meet at IMG Ashford Headquarters (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 3-4 hours and gaining about 2,000ft on your ascent to the Paradise Glacier. Along the way, the guides will review efficient climbing techniques including pace, rest-stepping, breathing, break procedures, clothing layering systems, food and water intake requirements and other essential climbing skills.

Day 3 — After an early breakfast, the team will continue skills training with ice axe and crampons in preparation for navigating higher up the glacier. The team will break camp and ascend the Paradise Glacier to a camp at an altitude below 9,000 feet. This camp will be situated to take maximum advantage of nearby crevasses for training.

Day 4 — A day of technical rescue training with self-rescue and team rescue practice scenarios. Other skills may include snow and ice anchors, anchor systems, belaying, ascending and descending ropes. Return to camp at end of day.

Day 5 — After a morning of technical training, the team will ascend to Camp Muir at 10,080ft. 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 6 — 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 7 — 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.

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