Rainier!

2:55 p.m. on September 15, 2011 (EDT)
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My big brother called and wants to do something cool to commerate his upcomming 40th birthday and has decided on a Mt Rainier climb for next year!

Even better yet, he invited me to go along!

We're thinking a guided trip on the DC route with RMI guides.  I'm open to suggestions on this however.

Brother mentioned that he might stop off at Home Depot on the way there to hire some "sherpas" to help with the load.  We axed that idea as a cost cutting measure.

We'll see ow it shapes up.

Wife isn't too happy about it. something about a death wish.    

 

3:47 p.m. on September 15, 2011 (EDT)
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@ FromSagetoSnow :  A death wish is taking a swan dive of off the Tacoma Narrows bridge.  Climbing Rainier, mearly falls under "risky behavior".

3:59 p.m. on September 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Risky behavior and doing it unprepared = death wish

Not trying to imply anything Sage... just something that crossed my mind.

7:55 p.m. on September 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Well I was going to bring a sweatshirt!  Also my Ozark Trail backpack is practically new so I ought to be okay.  I'm reasonably active; I jumped to a conclusion twice today.  I think I'll do just fine. 

All laughing aside, I'm taking this very seriously, the biggest wildcards I see are weather/natural and some freak altitude sickness that hasn't shown up yet on my other forays above 10K feet.  Otherwise I'll continue studying, exercizing, saving my $$ and accumulating a few last tidbits of gear. 

Don't tell my insurance agent!

8:36 a.m. on September 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Hadn't been on Rainier since the late 70's.  Post pic's.  I need some reminding.

5:43 p.m. on October 1, 2011 (EDT)
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Have wife go along and stay at Paradise Lodge.  She can tool around the area and will have a great time even taking short hikes along the Wonderland Trail while you are slogging on snow. She will be among the first to know whether to call your insurance agent or not.

RMI is a good, competent guide service.  Take advantage of a two day mountaineering course they offer before the climb.  Well worth the time and the $$.

40 years old is probably associated with a few more pounds and less activity than when he was 20.  Would be a good idea to spend the next 6 months getting toward the best shape the two of you have ever been in.  Given that you have good weather, it is simply a very long slog uphill for 20+ hours.  Depending upon how many continuous hours you can stay on a gym's stair stepper, the more fit you are the more you will enjoy the trip.  The summit day starts right around midnight and you return to Paradise Parking lot around 6 PM.  You get a 1 hour break on top.

Other than the info package RMI will send you, a few places to look for guidance on what you should be planning to do every day between now and then is at:

http://www.alpineascents.com/denali-train.asp

Even tho it isn't a Denali level climb, you get the idea.. this is a good guideline.

If you haven't been jogging lately you should check out the walk/jog part of:

http://www.exrx.net/Beginning.html

If either of you are over weight, don't mess around,  you should check in with the staff at a competent gym.  They will put you on a heavy lifting program with 6-8 meals a day that are higher protein, lower fat and medium carbohydrates.   AND lots and lots of water. You will be surprised that your diet is a good quantity of food to maintain the work out program.

And then some general thoughts.

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/WorkoutMistakes.htm

You might toss in an extra wooly jumper as well...just in case.

Another option would be end of July, Mt Whitney from the west (back) side.  Leave from just south of the portal at Horseshoe Meadows over Army Pass, to the peak the 4th day and exit via 13,200' Forester pass and finally out over Kearsarge Pass down to Onion Valley on the 7th day.  50 miles (about, not counting the day hike of lower 49's highest peak) of some of the most spectacular scenery in the US. [You can skim off two days if you exit over Shepherd Pass to the same road Onion Valley is on just outside of Independence CA]

7:05 p.m. on October 3, 2011 (EDT)
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speacock said:

..40 years old is probably associated with a few more pounds and less activity than when he was 20.  Would be a good idea to spend the next 6 months getting toward the best shape the two of you have ever been in... 

+1

The following is my own set of guidelines for a trip likeRainier.  Last time I did it I was in my late forties.

I have been on too many geezers gone wild hikes with folks who thought they could will themselves through, and otherwise attempt something they were utterly not in shape to do.  It sucks to go on trips with people who over commit, ruining the experience for everyone else who otherwise would have gone on further.  Even those who hit the gym are usually fall way short of what is needed to get up such a hill.  The tendency is to measure conditioning by perceived level of suffering, not objective levels of capability.  Nowadays I refuse to go on such trips with folks my age unless they demonstrate they have sufficient conditioning, such as described below.

Test your mettle before going.  For example be capable of sustaining a 18-20mph+ pace on a bicycle over level terrain for two hours. 

PLUS be capable of hauling a 50 pound pack up fifteen stories of stairs in a tall building without resting mid route - and repeating this feat two or three more times in the same day.

PLUS be able to leg press three sets @ 600 pounds, or more.

You may not have needed such conditioning in your youth, but as we age we loose the ability to recover quickly and continue.  If you can't do these routines described above, you will findRainierto be BRUTAL, most likely well beyond your capacity.

Ed

2:11 a.m. on October 4, 2011 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

speacock said:

..40 years old is probably associated with a few more pounds and less activity than when he was 20.  Would be a good idea to spend the next 6 months getting toward the best shape the two of you have ever been in... 

+1

The following is my own set of guidelines for a trip likeRainier.  Last time I did it I was in my late forties.

I have been on too many geezers gone wild hikes with folks who thought they could will themselves through, and otherwise attempt something they were utterly not in shape to do.  It sucks to go on trips with people who over commit, ruining the experience for everyone else who otherwise would have gone on further.  Even those who hit the gym are usually fall way short of what is needed to get up such a hill.  The tendency is to measure conditioning by perceived level of suffering, not objective levels of capability.  Nowadays I refuse to go on such trips with folks my age unless they demonstrate they have sufficient conditioning, such as described below.

Test your mettle before going.  For example be capable of sustaining a 18-20mph+ pace on a bicycle over level terrain for two hours. 

PLUS be capable of hauling a 50 pound pack up fifteen stories of stairs in a tall building without resting mid route - and repeating this feat two or three more times in the same day.

PLUS be able to leg press three sets @ 600 pounds, or more.

You may not have needed such conditioning in your youth, but as we age we loose the ability to recover quickly and continue.  If you can't do these routines described above, you will findRainierto be BRUTAL, most likely well beyond your capacity.

Ed

 Dang it,  I knew there was a catch to all this.  I'd better get to work. ;-}>

10:39 p.m. on October 4, 2011 (EDT)
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I would pick American Alpine Institute (Bellingham, WA) or Alpine Ascents International over RMI. RMI is noted (notorious?) for pushing the pace and spinning anyone who is a bit slow (that means sending them back down). Either of the AAIs will want you to do a basic glacier climb with them to hone your skills and evaluate your pace. They want you to succeed (best way to get return clients). They also tend to use the route out of Schurman, much nicer and more interesting route.

By the way, I did Rainier last when I was 58. So I say "balderdash!!!" to Ed whome's nonsense about lifting 600 pounds and hauling 50 pounds up 15 flights of stairs. If a wimpy Old GreyBearded One can do it, so can you ;D

By the way, I weigh the same now as I did at 21 y.o.

Still, there is some truth to the cautions for people who decide to do a serious climb while in their midlife crisis. I see lots of men (almost 100% men!!!) who take on "the 7 Summits" in their 30s to 40s, heedless of the monetary and family cost (there are worse midlife "adventures", though, something my estate lawyer refers to as the "bimbo effect")

6:04 a.m. on October 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Bill S said:

..By the way, I did Rainier last when I was 58. So I say "balderdash!!!" to Ed whome's nonsense about lifting 600 pounds and hauling 50 pounds up 15 flights of stairs. If a wimpy Old GreyBearded One can do it, so can you ;D

Balderdash! I had that for lunch!

Actually I find the sustained cardo on the bycycle crterian to be more demanding than the other benchmarks.  600 pound leg presses are not that difficult if you are an active cyclist or trekker.   It goes without saying the haul up Rainer is a lot longer than climbing a 15 story building two or three times.  I cite the 50 pound load because that was the average weight of my kit on the three trips I made there, including crampons, axe, rope & climbing hardware, and misc community gear.  Perhaps, Bill, you underestimate your own capabilities? 

But since you dispell my recommendation, what baseline for performance would you advise someone who has never been there?

Ed

3:13 p.m. on October 5, 2011 (EDT)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

... the biggest wildcards I see are weather/natural and some freak altitude sickness that hasn't shown up yet on my other forays above 10K feet.  Otherwise I'll continue studying, exercizing, saving my $$ and accumulating a few last tidbits of gear. 

Don't tell my insurance agent!

 The biggest wildcard, based on my observations of guided expeditions and some personal experience, is who else is in the group. If you hire a guide service, you have no control over your companions. I rarely hire a guide service, having done some guiding myself. The only reasons personally are legal requirements (if you do Kilimanjaro, Tanzanian law requires you to have a local Tanzanian guide, cook, and porters), logistics (if you want to climb or trek in Antarctica, you pretty much have to use Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions to get you and your food to and from the ice), or an area or activity I am unfamiliar with (like getting up close and personal with Alaskan Brown Bears). But I have found through leading Sierra Club trips and observing guided parties on various mountains (including Rainier) that there always seems to be someone like Crazy James or Denis the Prison Guard. Sometimes it is someone who oversold their experience. Sometimes it is someone who has a "different agenda". One way around this is to do a private trip, maybe hiring a private guide for your hand-chosen party. This is no guarantee - the guide Barb and I had for the Serengeti turned out to be a fan of Bin Ladin (seriously!) and wanted me to know that the CIA, in the 1860s (yes, he said 1860s) was heavily involved in assassinating Latin American dictators (note that this is pre-Simon Bolivar). I will say in his favor that he was really excellent in finding the animals we wanted to photograph. I finally told him "no more political discussions!!!". Usually if you choose your companions, you have some idea of compatability. But not always. I have been in the situation more than once where halfway through the trip there was one member of the group about whom everyone else was saying "whose idea was it to invite Crazy James on this expedition?" Once "Crazy James" was the expedition leader! Needless to say, the success of that expedition was "in spite of" the expedition leader, not because of him.

Ed, one thing about many of the "mid-life crisis" wannabe 7-Summiters (which includes "gonna do Rainier/El Cap Nose/Matterhorn" as well) is that, exactly as mentioned by you and others here, they have been sitting at a desk since they got out of college. The best conditioning and other preparation is continual activity. I hike the local hills a lot, and when I was working (pre-retirement), I bicycled to work daily (in Boston, I rode the bike every day unless it was actually snowing in the morning before I went out the door). But I see people (usually men in the 30-45 age range) running up the hills with a 50 pound pack who say they are preparing for Everest or one of the other 7 Summits, leaving for the expedition in the next month or two. You can't make up for 10 or 15 years of pencil-pushing at the desk in a couple months of struggling up the hills in your neighborhood, much less climbing 15 flights of stairs 3 times a day for a couple weeks.

For inspiration, though, here is a photo of me on the summit of Vinson (in Antarctica, age 70). By the way, that is a windbreaker I have on, not a Goretex or eVent hard shell - it is too cold in Antarctica for rain, so you just need a windproof, but highly breathable shell.


IMG_0196.jpg

5:14 p.m. on October 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Bill:

I just met one of the AAI directors Sunday during a single pitch instructor certification course, we were acting as clients for the instructors to guide for their certification exam.  I like the AAI but I am still leaning toward RMI.

I started at the gym and running last January and I have almost a year till the climb so I think I started plenty early. 

The idea of sharing a hut with Crazy Bob, the other guy in the climbing group, is a concern.  What ideas can you share with dealing with an odd-ball in the rope team?

(If you don't know who the odd-ball in the group is, its you!)

8:22 p.m. on October 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Bill S said:

..You can't make up for 10 or 15 years of pencil-pushing at the desk in a couple months of struggling up the hills in your neighborhood, much less climbing 15 flights of stairs 3 times a day for a couple weeks...

Totally agree.  I think we are stating the same thing in a different manner.  You are either in a perpetual state of condition, or will require six months or more of applied effort to reach an acceptable level of condition to climb a big mountain.  I am in decent shape, but already am stepping up my activity level in preparation for a Grand Canyon hike (the lottery willing) late next spring.  That is why it is a total of 45 flights with a heavy pack - no couch potato will accomplish that in a few weeks - AND the 600 pound leg presses - again something requiring a sustained period of conditioning to attain-  AND the cardio level of cycling at speed.  Combined these are not a target that can be reached with a month of conditioning, unless you are already almost there.  If one commits to many months of physical preparation, and dedicates themselves to the effort, they may very well seize the moment, and convert a mid life crisis into a lifestyle makeover.

Ed

3:52 p.m. on October 26, 2011 (EDT)
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I go to CrossFit as part of my getting ready to do the Everest base Camp Trek. I met a guy there who was running every day and doing CrossFit 3 times a week in preparation for Rainier. (If you don't know what CrossFit is, the link goes to the gym I train at.). He did the Rainer climb about 5 months ago. Heard he loved it. He has not got off his couch since.

 

Mountain Madness is another good company for guiding. They have Rainier in their offerings as well.

4:26 p.m. on October 27, 2011 (EDT)
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Have you tried Mountain Madness?

4:32 p.m. on October 27, 2011 (EDT)
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I have been working with them the last two years in preparation of my upcoming trek to Nepal. I have paid them money and dealt with their staff and so far am quite impressed. I also like their company history and think Scott Fischer was a great mountain guy. They seem to be sort of middle price zone compared to some other companies, but I am loving working with them. i will be able to fully report on the 16th of April when I return from Nepal.

6:03 p.m. on January 12, 2012 (EST)
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Big Bro cancelled!  Will have to set my sights a little lower this summer. 

8:46 p.m. on January 12, 2012 (EST)
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aw.......sorry for your disappointment. HEAD TO THE ENCHANTMENTS!

3:17 a.m. on January 13, 2012 (EST)
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That sucks!  Bro owes you!  Make him carry you a beer to the summit when you do go.

I just had three people cancel a planned April trip to Grand Canyon.  I half expected it though, as these guys are always all pumped whenever a trip is considered over a beer, but when it comes time to commit - in this case the green backs for the reservation - they suddenly have unexpected contingencies to address.  Happens like clock work.

Ed 

9:33 p.m. on January 13, 2012 (EST)
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Thats a real bummer Sage, for you too Ed.

Ive given up asking anyone to go with me anywhere. Solo is all I plan for now.  I do have a buddy intrested in doing a trip way out in the future, we're talkin 2013.  I hope he stays intrested and it comes together.

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