Serious Mountaineering

I’m stoked. Last year my older brother trained for and ran his first marathon (the NY Marathon). So when talking with him over Chinese New Year I asked what he plans to do this year and he replied, “how about us three brothers climb Mount Ranier?” Then this morning he sent each of us an email stating that he’s already spoken with an experienced guide, a former head of Outward Bound, who can take us up the mountain (conditions permitting) this July.

I mentioned it to my wife this morning and she was fairly receptive (I would go without her, but I was afraid she might find it to dangerous, too expensive or too time consuming).

I would looooove to do it. I’ve climbed lots of mountains, including a few 14,000 footers in Colorado, up to 17,800 feet in Nepal, and I tried doing Mount Shasta once (in California) but couldn’t make it to the top due to the steep snow fields, but I’ve never climbed a peak with ropes, crampons and ice axe.

I recognize that Ranier is seriously dangerous, lots of people have died on it and only 65% of all who attempt it make it to the top. At 14,411 ft (4,392 meters) it’s the most heavily glaciated peak in the continental US (not including Alaska). But, I’m confident with proper training (lots of cycling, hiking and other exercise) it should be possible. I expect the guide service will provide all the specialized gear that we need and will train us on its use. Heck, novices hire guides to climb Everest all the time; surely Rainier can’t be too insurmountable.

Anyway, like I said, I’m stoked. It’s far from certain yet, but I’m very seriously considering it. Of course it’ll be an experience never to forget. And, I turn 50 this summer, so I had been searching for an awesome challenge to strive for and surmount to show myself I’m not all that old. This would do that. My older brother’s 52, very strong, and once did a guided climb of a big South American peak. My younger brother’s 48 and also very fit, so it’s just up to me to do my part.

Well, enough words. Here she is.

Good luck, MT! Seriously, that’s a fair undertaking.

hope the weather is kind to you…

Wow! Nothing to add, but those are brilliant pics.

I like the ‘bonding’ idea, with your bros. Me and my sis are taking a trip together next year - just us, to somewhere special to both of us. You have to get out there and make these memories!

Respect to you, Sir! :notworthy: I can’t even climb out of bed.

I don’t even want to climb out of bed.

Yeah, nice pics indeed. I really like the 3rd one. There’s 4 right? The first one doesn’t load for me for some odd reason.

Good luck, hope you decide to do it up.

Best of luck to you. It’ll be a great achievement.

Go for it, MT.
Go bond with your bros, but remember that the journey is what is important, not the destination–especially when it comes to mountaineering.

Thanks guys, but I haven’t done anything yet except post a few photos (and I didn’t even take them). We’ll see how it goes. I’m presently putting it in the “fairly likely” category.

A slight twist on your words, Wookie, by legendary mountaineer Ed Viesturs, who lost numerous friends and companions to mountain fatalities, “Getting to the top is optional, but getting down is mandatory.”

You’re right, k.k. That first image has stopped working. So, here’s a few more shots of Rainier.

:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

You go, I will wait here. :slight_smile: But it looks incredible though.

Good luck, MT!

I went through a Rainier obsession not long ago, but haven’t been able to follow through to date (a certain move to Taiwan is a factor). But I did the research, and agree that Rainier is the perfect balance for trying out “proper” mountaineering - easy access, quick round trip, glaciated (roping up, crampons, ice axe, & crevasses), and not at a dangerously debilitating altitude.

In any case, I settled on RMI Guides (Ed Viestur’s former employer, Lou Whittaker’s company) - pretty sure they’ve never lost anyone in their 40 years guiding the mountain. Their website has some helpful info, including a recommended gear list and a pre-climb training regimen:

I’ve heard Rainier is a bit of a walk. Good luck. I’ve got three friends in the hospital at Inverness right now who got avalanched just this week alone. One won’t make it, so I’ve heard. Take very great care.

I hope your friends recover, sandman. I know what you’re saying. In the past year I’ve read a few great mountaineering books, including THIS gripping, but sobering, account of numerous mountain fatalities, so I realize that even when one is totally fit and careful, one can still get swept off the mountain by an avalanche or smashed in the head by a boulder or countless other disasters.

That is a great looking company, geographiccure. Thanks for posting the link. (In my storage locker back in the states, incidentally, I have an autographed photo of Whittaker that I got in about 1976.) I don’t think we’ll go with them, though, as they appear to be already fully booked for the whole season, from May through Sept.

Well, you seem to know enough as to what you’re getting yourself into.

And 4400m isn’t really all that difficult with respect to altitude. Kilimanjaro, Kata Palar and Kinabalu are all around that or beyond that and are done all the time by reasonably fit people. I’m not saying it will be a walk in the park, but you can tell your wife that altitude one less thing that you need to worry about with respect to things that could kill (such as rock falls, avalanches, hypothermia, slips off the mountain, snow blindness, the difficulty of ensuring anchored protection in snow, bears)

I used to have about a dozen friends that were into serious moutaineering. Quite a few fell off at one time or another, but luckily only one of them never came back. So even if you fall off do persevere if things go wrong then write a best selling book about it.

If you manage it all then lots of respect will be due.

I don’t plan on mentioning any such things to her unless she asks and I’m hopeful she won’t.

Btw, here I am on the Annapurna Circuit, at 17,800 ft (abt 12 yrs ago). . .

. . .but as far as I recall the only really serious hazard there was altitude and it seemed to me that if you dealt with it properly you’d be Ok (ascending gradually, always climbing higher each day than where you slept, drinking lots of water, taking altitude pills as needed). Yes, some people die on those heavily-trekked Himalayan routes or have to get helicoptered out, but those are very very few compared to the hordes who hike there and, like most of them, I only got a serious headache and exhaustion.

That was fantastic scenery, and it did require a lot of hard work, but in many ways it wasn’t serious mountaineering. Many novices traverse those well-trod Himalayan treks. While it was higher altitude, no one uses crampons, rope, ice ax on those treks. No need to. Heck, no need to even bring a tent or food, as there are houses all the way up that provide room and board (but only ice cold water mostly). As far as I recall, there were no treacherous crevasses there or serious avalanch danger. Just cold, exhaustion and altitude.

So, I expect Rainier would be very different, a good intro to serious mountaineering equipment and techniques (and a beautiful mountain with some spectacular views).

^Yup, been there, also about 12 years ago. But at the time I wasn’t dressed like a male stripper

MT -
Lovely photos.
On a serious note.
You can, of course, do this thing. Nice opportunity for 3 brothers to have tales to share and reminisce(blame spell check if its wrong) in later life over drinks and cigars.

Proper preparation is mandatory if you do not want o endanger not only yourself but your brothers.
And that would include acclimation to altitude. Something hard to achieve here on the island.

Do the breathing exercises and expand the lung capacity and venture forth.

Of course do think of the family and leave a well-written will where they can easily find it should the need arise.

Best Luck To You and All Involved.

GM, I bought my funny pants and gaitors in Kathmandu. The best stuff I bought there, though, was a great handwoven sweater, hat and gloves – very warm, nice looking and cheap (I expect you picked up the same). I also bought some warm clothes for a Nepali student who joined me on the trek. He was from KTM and had never been up in the mountains. I met him at the monkey temple in KTM and he wanted to go along. I actually knew more about the trek and altitude sickness, etc than he did, from reading my Lonely Planet, so I shared what I learned there with him, but it was nice having him along, especially to talk with the locals.

Edit: Thanks, TC. The bonding with the bros will be great. Shit, I guess there’s no backing out now. Better start training tomorrow.

Sounds like a wonderful project MT. And one of the great things about such adventures is that if - for whatever reason - you don’t get to actually do it, it’s still a lot of fun. Having an expedition on the horizon really buts a purpose in your stride; it’s fun to research the trip, it encourages you to get really fit, and (a bit like fantasizing about giving the hot new secretary a ride on the desk) it makes work days go by easier,

On a side note, your ma did a great job of delivering you boys two years apart. My bro was seven years younger so was more of a nuisance than a friend to play with.

Yea, no kidding. I looked in the mirror last night and realized, “shit, I’m a fat old man.” Definitely time to start a regular exercise routine and cut back on sweets and other such junk. I also realized this morning one great exercise I can do every day at no cost and very little extra time: start walking up and down the 22 floors to my office every day instead of using the elevator. :eh: I’ll try it Monday.

Yea, two years apart is perfect. We fought from time to time, but it would be A v. B, then A v. C, then B v. C, so someone would always get a break, and we always had someone to play with. I regret (but don’t lose sleep over) not having created a second child after our girl, but she’s 6 now and I feel a second child now wouldn’t be as great a thing as if it had come a year or two after the first. Mayo wente, she’ll survive alone just fine.