Rainier Via the Emmons Glacier

At 14,410 Mount Rainier is a scant 95 feet less than the high point of the lower forty eight states, Mount Whitney. But it is a totally different mountain. While Whitney has a a maintained trail winding to the summit under generally blue California skies, Rainier is heavily glaciated slammed by frequent storms from the Pacific with heavy snow, whiteouts and crevasses. Whitney does not come close.

At SMC we are pleased to be granted a two year permit by the Park Service to work with those of our guests who want to expand their skills beyond Mount Whitney and into a big alpine environment with additional challenges and with dreams of even bigger mountains. While a major climb in its own right Rainier is also a stepping stone to even bigger peaks such as Denali and Aconcagua.

The Park Service permit we have is very limited and we are limited to four guests per year with two guides.

Our trips fill up quickly so get in contact with us to reserve a spot.

Our dates vary year to year but our ideal daily schedule is as follows. But remember that ideal is not necessarily t way it will play out in real life as we deal with acclimatization, weather and snow conditions.

Day 1: Meet at a Seattle hotel for equipment check and pre-trip briefing.

Day 2: During this time the group will learn and practice various mountaineering skills such as crevasse rescue, anchor placement, ice climbing, fixed line travel, and self rescue techniques among many others. Evening lectures in camp include discussion on mountain weather, medicine for mountaineering, altitude wellness, equipment and any requested topics that spark your interest.
We travel from Seattle to Mount Rainier and roads end at the White River Campground (4,300 ft.). An easy trail through old growth forest along the White River takes us to the open meadow-like Glacier Basin. From Glacier Basin, we climb snow slopes up the Inter Glacier to our camp at about 8,500 feet. This shorter days aids in acclimatization and allows us to review knots, crampon and ice axe skills and roped team glacier travel techniques. Evening discussion will be on LNT practices, recognition and treatment of altitude problems.

Day 3: We make a short ascent up to Camp Schurman (9,500 ft.) via the Inter Glacier, Steamboat Prow and the Emmons Glacier. This short day allows us to rest up as possible before our summit attempt start early the next morning. It also gives us time to review crevasse rescue skills.

Day 4: Summit day. For safety and better traveling conditions on the glacier, we’ll rise early to get us near the summit by sunrise. The summit climb should take nine to 12 hours, depending upon the speed of the group. The Emmons-Winthrop Glacier route climbs the northern edge of the largest glacier in the lower 48 states, the Emmons Glacier. The 35-degree central ramp of the glacier offers a route by which we access the slopes of the upper mountain. We thread our way through these toward the summit of Mt. Rainier! Return is via the same route to Camp Schurman.

Day 5: We retrace our steps back down the mountain to the trailhead and the White River Campground. From here we return to Seattle.
Camp or stay at Camp Schurman if another day is needed for the ascent.

Day 6: Spare day for additional skills, acclimatization or weather.

Program Prerequisites:

Snowskills and experience with snow travel.

We will cover crevasse rescue and glacier travel along the way.

Please Read before you go

We feel the following information is essential... (links open as PDF in new window)

  1. Details, itinerary, and equipment list for your trip
  2. SMC Cancellation Policy
  3. Suggestions on preparation - get the most out of your trip!
  4. Tips on physical training for your trip
  5. LNT - Let's work together to protect our precious mountain environment.

Rental Equipment:

Need to rent equipment for your trip? We can help.