May 18, 2009
So the guides wrapped up their second day of training on Mt. Rainier last week by practicing some Kautz systems.
They enjoyed the training (in less than ideal conditions) on some route specific tools and techniques and learned a few different, and possibly more efficient, ways of doing things. Some time was also spent on problem solving a few different situations that the guides might find themselves in – some great conversation spun from this!
A big thank you to John Race, Olivia Cussen and Jeff Ward for their work on this year’s guide training…
Up Next: The NPS Helicopter Flight to Muir (weather dependent), and the Wilderness First Responder Course (refresher) this weekend… Our 3.5 day summit climbs start this week too – so I guess it is officially climbing season!!
On a separate note: if you haven’t been keeping up with our Everest Climb it’s time to start checking in daily… The summit teams are making their way up the mountain!
That’s all for now…
May 13, 2009
The busy weeks continues today with Day 1 of IMG Guide Training. This year the training is being lead by IFMGA guides Jeff Ward, Olivia Cussen and John Race.
Over 20 of our guides are here today to learn and participate in some weather analysis, route planning & gps work as well as take an in depth look at some systems and techniques that apply to our Kautz climbs.
After some classroom work today the guides will split into groups and head into the park (Rainier) tomorrow to practice these systems.
As part of our continuing education program we provide several training opportunities for our guides each year: Ouray, CO (Ice), Ashford, WA (Alpine) and Leavenworth, WA (Rock or Alpine).
May 11, 2009
The Sherpa community forms the soul and backbone of Everest climbing. The rest of us are mere guests in their native land and fortunate to have their priceless help when we come to climb this mountain. Whenever a Sherpa is lost on Everest, a large community is devastated. The pain goes far beyond grief for a lost friend or family member, for many, the reality of severe economic hardship looms large.
The international climbing community can only offer our sincere thanks and sympathy to that Sherpa community and give our direct support to the families involved.
As in the past, IMG will organize a relief fund to be directed to support for the family of Lhapka Nuru Sherpa, lost in the recent avalanche on Everest, through our affiliated non-profit organization, AFFIMER (American Foundation for International Mountaineering Exploration and Research.)
Those who wish to help Lhapka’s family in this time of great need can make tax deductible donations to the fund as follows:
Write checks payable to: AFFIMER – ‘Lhapka Fund’ and mail directly to:
AFFIMER, P.O. Box 155,
Ashford, WA 98304 USA
AFFIMER is organized under the Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law for charitable purposes and is operated exclusively for charitable, educational and scientific purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. AFFIMER is dedicated to promoting the exploration of mountains for the purpose of increasing geographic, cultural, and scientific understanding of the global alpine environment. Founded in 1990 by a group of alpine mountain climbers and researchers from across the United States, AFFIMER is governed by a volunteer board of directors and receives its funding from private contributions and donations from the public.
A: Mild altitude illness, also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), is not uncommon among people climbing Mt. Rainier. Typical symptoms tend to include headache, loss of appetite, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue, restless sleep, and an increased heart rate and increased respiratory rate.
There are many things you can do to help prevent altitude illness. Hydrating during the climb is the most important and effective, but other effective techniques also include “pressure breathing,” using medications such as Diamox, and taking acclimatization hikes prior to your climb. Ibuprofen or aspirin can help with the headache and other symptoms of altitude illness.
Proper hydration while on an alpine climb can help you avoid cold injuries as well as prevent altitude illness. The more hydrated you are, the better you will feel at altitude and the faster you will acclimatize (adapt to higher altitude), because you will be able to assimilate more oxygen into your blood stream and deliver it throughout the body more efficiently. It is important to keep track of your fluid intake to make sure that you’re getting enough. We generally recommend that a person drink between 4 and 6 liters per day while climbing or training on Mt. Rainier. The general rule of thumb is that if your urine is clear and copious, then you are drinking enough. Electrolyte drink mixes will help replenish electrolytes lost from sweating and exertion. It is important, however, to remember to eat as well as drink during the day, both to maintain your energy levels and prevent hyponatremia. Drinking too much water without replacing electrolytes can make you hyponatremic (the flushing away of important electrolytes in the bloodstream due to excess water), which can be a life-threatening illness.
In addition to staying well hydrated, consider avoiding substances that act as diuretics or depressants. Refrain from alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, antihistamines, sleeping pills and other depressant drugs for a few days prior to and during your climb.
Another means of preventing altitude illness is pressure breathing, or purposeful hyperventilation. The more you force yourself to breath deeply and force out the old stale air in your lungs, the more you will rid your body of carbon dioxide and allow your body to take on more oxygen. This, combined with proper hydration will allow your body to transport more oxygen molecules around the body. This breathing technique is very effective and is employed by most successful high altitude mountaineers. IMG guides will teach you about pressure breathing during your climb.
Generally, just being fit will help you feel better at altitude. Being fit will also help you manage any symptoms of altitude illness without simultaneously struggling with the journey up the mountain. When possible, go for acclimatization hikes prior to the climb. Hike a local peak with some altitude (8,000 feet or higher) or consider coming out to Ashford a day or two before your climb with IMG and do a day hike up to Camp Muir (10,000ft) to log some time at altitude and start your body on the process of acclimatization.
Some medications have been shown to help prevent altitude illness. IMG does not recommend any specific medications. People tend to do fine with the moderate altitude of Mt. Rainier without any medications, especially if they are on one of our longer (3, 4, 5, and 6 day) programs. If considering medications for altitude illness, you should consult with your physician. Diamox (acetazolamide) can help prevent altitude illness and many climbers use it on high altitude expeditions around the world. It is usually not necessary on Mt. Rainier and is reserved for more extreme altitudes such as those found in the Himalayas and in South America. You need a prescription from a doctor to obtain Diamox so a consultation with an MD is necessary, and that is a good time to ask questions regarding its benefits and drawbacks, as there are several side effects that can affect one’s climb. If you do decide to take Diamox, we suggest starting with a small dose (125mg morning and evening) to minimize unpleasant symptoms (tingling, itching, excessive urination).
In the end, simply maintaining good hydration is the single most important thing you can do for yourself to avoid altitude illness.
For more information about AMS and altitude illnesses, please visit: www.princeton.edu/~oa/safety/altitude.html
Here’s a snapshot of what’s on tap for the month of May as we get ready for the Rainier Climbing Season…
May 4-8 – ‘Work Week’ at HQ.
May 9 – May 14 – Liberty Ridge Climb #1 (Guides: Aaron Mainer & Brian Warren)
May 9 -May 15 – Mt. Rainier ‘Denali’ Seminar #4 (Guides: Erica Engle & Eric Gullickson)
May 10 & 11 – Avy Refresher Course for guides
May 12 – NPS Mt. Rainier Natural History Course for guides & staff
May 13 & 14 – IMG Guide Training
Week of May 18 – NPS heli-lift (propane and supplies) to Camp Muir (subject to weather)
May 19 & May 20 – Carry to Camp Muir & Set-up of Camp Muir
May 20 – 3-Day Summit Climbs Begin!
May 23 & 24 – Wilderness First Responder Refresher Course
May 31 – Liberty Ridge Climb #2
So as you can see it’ll be a busy place around HQ but it’s nice to get everybody together before the season starts to take care of some business and have some fun.
See you on the mountain!
Back row (left to right): Phil Ershler, Tyler Gimenez, Aaron Mainer, Max Bunce, Andy Polloczek, Jeff Ward, Dan Otter, Adam Angel, Liam O’Sullivan, Ben Kurdt. Middle: Erica Engle, Brenda Walsh, Paul Baugher. Front row: Chris Meder, Brian Warren, Eric Gullickson, Kelly Ryan, Greg Vernovage, Eric Simonson, George Dunn
April 30, 2009
Lead Guide John Race called in from the the summit of Mt. Rainier at about noon today!The group set out on a 6-day seminar starting last Sunday. After a night down low (near Panorama Point) the group cut loose and headed up to Muir on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday were scheduled training days.
After evaluating the weather and snow conditions yesterday Race and fellow guide Eric Remza decided to give the Ingraham Direct a shot. The Ingraham Direct is a great early season route but typically melts out by late May or early June.
So, early this morning the team roped up and crossed the Cowlitz Glacier then passed through the Catherderal Gap still not knowing if the Ingraham Direct was a viable climbing option. It was.
The team went straight up the Ingraham Glacier crested the Ingraham Headwall mid-morning and enjoyed the “nice and warm” climbing conditions all the way to the top. The group reached the summit just before noon today.
It’s 4:00pm now and the team is pulling into Camp Muir for a well deserved rest. They will descend tomorrow and celebrate their summit!
All is well here in the shadows of Mt. Rainier.
April 28, 2009
…but there’s so much more out there!
Many of you know that the mid-summer months (July & August) on Mt. Rainier sell out pretty quickly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get outside and climb a mountain as challenging (or more) as Mt. Rainier!
There are countless climbs in the vast, beautiful and often overlooked North Cascades that offer a much different climbing experience than Mt. Rainier. Private climbs on peaks like Shuksan, Forbidden Peak or Sharkfin Tower are a great way to get outside with friends you know and avoid the mid-summer crowds on Rainier.
Another often overlooked climb is Mt. Adams. At 12,276ft it’s the second highest peak in Washington State and a great challenge. Our route takes you up the Adams Glacier on the northside of the volcano. It’s an amazing climbing experience in a unique alpine environment and a great training opportunity for those looking to climb something bigger like Denali or Aconcagua in the future.
There aren’t many people who get excited about researching insurance so I thought I’d take a minute and explain some Travel Insurance thoughts and options and try to answer a few common questions.
IMG recommends that all trip participants consider Cancellation Insurance. There are countless reasons why it may be necessary to cancel your trip (sick child, flight delayed, accidental injury, etc.) so weigh the options and as always read the fine print. Note that if you enroll within 21 days (with Travelex) of your registration for an IMG Program, coverage for certain pre-existing medical conditions may be waived.
IMG recommends Travelex. Specifically many of our customers find that Travelex’s ‘Travel Select‘ coverage fits their requirements, with both primary and comprehensive coverage. Best of all, Travel Select allows for complete customization with upgrades including “Lifestyle Paks”, “Cancel for Any Reason Pak” and “Transportation Pak”. Costs range from under $100 to a several hundred dollars for our more expensive climbs and treks.
For more info and to see current coverage plans and rates, please visit Travelex at: www.travelex-insurance.com
Please note that if you do purchase travel insurance through Travelex IMG’s location number is #47-0050
The average pack weight for our Rainier climbers is roughly 35-40lbs for our 3.5 day climbs via Camp Muir and the Disappointment Cleaver and roughly 50-55lbs for our Emmons or Kautz Climbers. Below are a few techniques and tips that will help you shave some weight from your pack.
- A lot of people ask if their ski jacket and ski pant will work for the required stormshell layers. The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes but you might want to consider other options: the average ski jacket and ski pants usually weigh twice (sometimes more) what the simplest Gore-tex shell layers do. Consider renting or buying lightweight Gore-tex layers. (Saves 1-2lbs)
- Leave the crampon case behind. They’re great while traveling, but should typically be left in the car while the crampons are strapped to your pack itself. (Saves 4oz.)
- Toiletries: most of this can and should be left at home. All you’ll need on the climb is a small toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste along with any other absolute must haves… You’ll live without deodorant, lotion, bug spray, facewash, nail trimmers, q-tips, etc. (Saves TBA)
- Sunscreen: You do not need an 8oz tube. For a 3 or 4 day climb a simple 1oz tube along with some chapstick will do just fine. (Saves 7oz)
- How heavy is your actual pack? Some packs weigh in at 7lbs while others come in at 3 or 4lbs. Consider upgrading your pack to save the weight. (Saves 3lbs)
- Personal Food: Don’t try to save weight here. Bring foods you like to eat! Do spend some time thinking/planning your snack consumption for the trip.
- Sleeping Bags: Again there are tons of sleeping bags that will work, but the weight:cost ratio comes back into play here. Example: Feathered Friends 10 Degree Raven bag (2lbs 5oz) vs. other comparable 10 Degree bags in the 3-4lb+ range. (Saves 1lb+)
- The insulated (puffy) jacket. There are a lot of options on the market these days that are ultralight and others that are ultraheavy… For a typical Rainier climb you don’t need the Antarctica Down Suit of jackets, a quality mid-weight puffy is what we’re looking for. A hood is strongly recommended. We rent the Outdoor Research Chaos (21-24oz.). (Possible weight savings 8oz.)
- Extra clothes: you don’t need extra underwear, extra long underwear, extra t-shirts, etc. By the end of the climb we all stink and that’s ok – it sure beats dragging unnecessary items up and down the mountain. (Saves 1lb).
- Cup, bowl, spoon. That’s it for your kitchen needs.
- Compass & GPS: Keep it simple here. Unless you like to follow along these can be left behind. (Saves 6oz)
- Camera, phone, batteries, etc.: Photos are important to everybody so definitely bring your small camera and an extra battery. Cumbersome cameras, lenses get in the way and actually result in fewer photos being taken.
So you can see there are lots of ways to save weight when packing for your next climb. A lot of these come at a financial cost but others are simple and productive. Do your research and you’ll be just fine!