IMG Rainier Kautz Summit Climbs Itinerary
Below you'll see the itinerary for two different Kautz Route climbs. The standard Kautz program is 4½ days and is noted as Kautz. The Kautz EX program is 5½ days and is noted as Kautz EX. We add an extra day to our mid-summer Kautz EX climbs when the crux of the route has a longer section of exposed, 40-50 degree glacier ice. We feel an extra day spent training on the lower glacier in advanced cramponing skills is required to get the team all climbing with the same skills.
For the Kautz EX 5½ Day program, you are responsible for two nights of lodging in Ashford: after the ½ day on Day One and after skills training on Day Two.
Day 1 (Kautz and Kautz EX) The team meets at 2:00 p.m. the afternoon prior to the climb at IMG's Ashford Headquarters (directions) where our training curriculum begins with the pre-climb meeting of 4 hours and is instrumental in getting the team outfitted, informed, packed and educated prior to departure the following morning. Topics to be covered include an introduction of the entire team, an introduction to Mt. Rainier National Park, its mission and ecology; a safety briefing; issue and fitting of gear; personal gear checks and issue of group gear; proper use of safety equipment including helmets, harnesses and avalanche beacons; a review of knots, ropes, rope travel and additional critical climbing skills.
You are on your own for lodging this night, but IMG offers a convenient and economical option with our onsite tent camping »
Day 2 (Kautz EX only) Meet at 8:00 a.m. all ready to go with day packs. We ride the IMG shuttle up to Paradise for a day of technical training. The group hikes to the nearest suitable training area above Paradise, either the slopes below Panorama Point or the lower Nisqually Glacier. Training will include steeper angle cramponing skills: flat footed French technique, front pointing, standing in balance on crampons and movement over ice. The use of ice axes in "piolet traction" and "piolet ancre" (anchoring the pick of the axe) on moderately steep slopes will be covered including the use of more technical tools. Anchor construction on snow and glacier ice is covered as well as belaying, anchor management, rappelling and lowering. Descent back to Paradise at end of day and transport back to HQ.
You are on your own for lodging this second night, but IMG offers a convenient and economical option with onsite tent camping »
Day 2 Kautz (Day 3 Kautz EX) We meet at 8:00 a.m. all ready to go, then load up the van and are shuttled up to Paradise, the jumping-off point for our climb. Our training continues with the skills needed for safe and efficient travel with an expedition pack. We spend most of the day ascending to the first camp and establishing it at above 7,000 feet. The first day takes us through open alpine meadows and snow fields then drops us down to cross the lower Nisqually glacier. The Nisqually glacier provides an opportunity to practice roping up and the techniques of safe glacier travel.
Day 3 Kautz (Day 4 Kautz EX) We continue training and refreshing the team's glacier climbing skills prior to departing our campsite. Training continues after we pack up and move slowly up to our high camp (at +/- 10,000ft). Once camp is established, we discuss the following day's summit climb and complete our preparations for the morning.
Day 4 Kautz (Day 5 Kautz EX) We begin our climb well before daybreak to allow enough time to reach the 14,410 ft summit and descend back to camp during the safest part of the day. Our summit day route normally starts with the guides lowering each member down a vertical rock step to access the Kautz Glacier then onto the steeper and more exposed part of the route. Here the guides may employ fixed anchors or fixed ropes to protect the ascent and descent. This is a great introduction to steeper glacier climbing skills. Throughout the day, the guides will be directing their rope teams, providing safety feedback and hands on training in safe climbing skills. The upper Kautz glacier becomes more moderate in angle and leads up to the upper mountain and finally Mt. Rainier's summit crater rim. After an hour on top, we navigate the same route back down to high camp to enjoy a well deserved rest after a long and strenuous day.
Day 5 Kautz (Day 6 Kautz EX) The final day is reserved for descent to Paradise where the shuttle waits to bring us back to IMG's HQ facilities. Here we finally have an opportunity to celebrate our climb, and the guides award certificates of achievement.