4 forum posts
My husband wants to climb Rainier this summer with his friend. This is their plan (I’m not a climber, so my apologies in advance if I get technical stuff wrong):
• Two-man team on rope
• Start on a Friday night, hike straight through (i.e., without sleeping) to the summit weather and legs permitting. Only sleep if they need to. Hike down mountain on Saturday. He will begin around 10-11pm on Friday after a full work week and a 4-5 hour drive to the trailhead.
He thinks this plan is reasonably safe. I fear that it is not. I would prefer that he:
1. Do Rainier next year after doing a lot of fitness training, skills training and training on practice mountains
2. Go this year with a guided team
3. Add a third, expert climber to their team
He says #1 and #2 of my preferences are out. #1 because we will move to New England in a few months and because we have a baby on the way.#2 because I think he’s keen on going unguided.
That leaves us with either their plan or my Option #3: add a third, expert climber. Given these options, I’d like your thoughts on the following:
1. Is their option reasonably safe?
2. Is Option #3 reasonably safe?
3. If Option #3 is okay, what are some good ways to find good climbers?
4. What should the team be doing in the next few weeks to prepare?
Here is some background on their expertise/skills/preparation:
My husband’s friend: He is apparently an experienced climber. I’m told that he has climbed a lot of mountains in Montana and WA (I don’t know how many or at what difficulty/altitude). I’m inclined to think that he has good skills and is comfortable in high-altitude situations. He has tried to summit Rainier twice but turned around both times because of bad weather. He’s also done a ton of backcountry skiing. He has some PTSD issues related to a near-fatal skiing accident from a few years ago. The PTSD came back as recently as this winter, when he got caught in a small avalanche during a ski trip with my husband. He was not harmed in this accident and was able to get up on his own, but he could not ski the rest of the season bc of the PTSD. He is feeling confident about the Rainier trip, though.
My husband’s experience: I would consider him a novice climber because he (1) has never climbed up and down a mountain in boots and crampons, and (2) he began learning climbing and safety skills only recently. He has not put these skills to work in real situations. He would say that he is something more than novice at climbing because he did a good amount of backcountry skiing this winter- 5-10 times this season, one time as an overnight, on altitudes of 5-7000 ft. He used his ice ax a lot while skiing, in what capacity I don’t know.
Their fitness levels: My husband is 34 and his friend is 28. I don’t know his friend’s fitness level, but I’m inclined to think that it’s more than adequate for the climb. A few years ago, I would have had zero concerns about my husband’s fitness level: he qualified for his age-group national team in triathlon and duathlon and completed a very mountainous and difficult Ironman. He got very burned out on triathlon, though, and hasn’t been doing much training at all for the past year. He’ll go on a long run or bike every few weeks, but that’s about it. Now he could probably finish a local marathon race that is steep and hilly and place top-5 age group, but he’d be hurting. His endurance hill workouts were from the 5-10 times they went backcountry skiing this winter. He has almost no experience in altitudes above 10,000ft. Eight years ago he did some wind sprints up a 10,000+ mountain in CO and felt fine, but no experience doing endurance sports at that altitude.
We keep going around in circles about this. I’ve asked him to ask around to see if their plan makes sense, but for whatever reason he hasn’t done it. I don’t know if I should back off or if I really should be as concerned as I am.
I would appreciate any insight you can offer. In your response, it would be very helpful if you could mention your level of mountain climbing experience. Thanks!