COMPLETED: 23 July 2016
Mount Rainier is perhaps the single most impressive mountain in the 48 contiguous United States. It is fourth in height, a bit lower than Colorado's Mt. Elbrus and California's Mt. Whitney (14,494'/4418m). It ranks second to Mount Shasta in total volume for a single peak. But no other peak has the combination of high elevation, massive bulk, and extensive glaciation--and Mt. Rainier stands alone in splendid isolation, with only 40 miles separating sea level at Puget Sound from its glacier-clad summit. No other peak nearby even remotely challenges its supremacy.
In most of the United States, a hike of 3000 vertical feet to the summit of a peak is considered about average; 4000 to 5000 vertical feet is considered a very long and extremely tiring trip, and anything above 6000 vertical feet is rare and devastatingly difficult. However, Mt. Rainier, by its easiet route, requires ascending 9000 vertical feet (that's 2740m for you non-Americans). This distance is the same as for the climb from advance basecamp in the Western Cwm to the summit of Mt. Everest.
Even though Rainier's elevation is low by the standards of the Himalaya and the Andes, there are only 20 mountains on earth have more topographic prominence--it just beats out K2 for spot #21 on the list of most prominence peaks on earth. Mount Whitney, at #81, is the next peak in the contiguous USA on that list.
Mountain climbing on Mount Rainier is difficult, involving traversing the largest glaciers in the U.S. south of Alaska. Most climbers require two to three days to reach the summit. Climbing teams demand experience in glacier travel, self-rescue, and wilderness travel. About 8,000 to 13,000 people attempt the climb each year, about 90% via routes from Camp Muir on the southeast flank. Most of the rest ascend Emmons Glacier via Camp Schurman on the northeast. About half of the attempts are successful, with weather and conditioning being the most common reasons for failure.
Trip Leaders: Maj Rob Marshall
Nearest Base: Joint Base Lewis-McChord; Fairchild AFB; Portland ANG
Projected Date: July 22-24 2016
Difficulty: Strenuous and Technical
All trip updates and progress will be posted in the blog below