RMI's Expedition Skills Seminar - Kautz is a six-day instructional mountaineering course with a summit attempt on Mt. Rainier via the Kautz Glacier Route.
- 2 days of foundational skills training and 4 days of extensive practical training while climbing Mt. Rainier's Kautz Route, a beautiful and moderately technical line on the south side of Rainier.
- An expedition-style climb allows us to establish successive tented camps as we ascend the mountain in preparation for our summit bid.
- Climb the exciting and challenging Kautz Ice Chute, a 30 to 50 degree snow and ice section of the route.
- Develop strong technical skills and gain foundational mountaineering experience.
Our Expedition Skills Seminar on the Kautz Route climbs an intermediate route on Mt. Rainier while developing mountaineering skills. After a Technical Training Day and a Mountaineering Day School, we ascend the Kautz Route, using the mountain's terrain to learn mountaineering skills such as snow & ice anchors, crevasse rescue, ice climbing, fixed line travel, belaying and other technical skills, before making a summit attempt from high camp.
Climbing a less traveled route, our Expedition Skills Seminar – Kautz, takes advantage of the beauties of the prime-climbing season on Mt. Rainier while ascending an exciting and more remote route. The Kautz Route is a great adventure for physically fit climbers ready for a slightly more technical adventure on Mt. Rainier.
Our Expedition Skills Seminars are comprehensive training courses designed to educate climbers to the mountaineering skills needed to tackle the world's greatest peaks. Successful completion of the Expedition Skill Seminar - Kautz will make you eligible for many of our expeditions around the world, including Denali, and provides you with a foundation for other major glaciated mountains.
THE RMI DIFFERENCE
The Mountain Guides at RMI have a reputation as top guides in the United States. RMI Guides participated in some of America's first ventures into the far reaches of the Himalaya. Years of expedition guiding and climbing around the world have built a core of consummate professional guides.
Our guides are celebrated teachers and trainers, known for their leadership as well as their character. They possess the compassion, enthusiasm and ability to empower others and inspire them forward. Such qualities may only be found in people at the top of their profession. Despite their vast experience, RMI Guides still remember their own first steps into the mountains, and enjoy helping other climbers reach new heights.
Our exceptional focus to detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures make our programs truly memorable.
RMI strives to create the safest mountain experience possible. Our experienced team of guides focuses on leading fun and successful climbs without compromising safety. Each climb includes careful pre-trip planning, daily weather forecasts, avalanche forecasts, and diligent attention to detail. All RMI Guides are highly trained in remote medicine and rescue skills and carry comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio communication equipment throughout the program. Regardless of the objective or the destination, safety remains RMI’s top priority.
RMI Expeditions is an authorized concessioner of Mount Rainier National Park.
Address comments to:
Superintendent | Mount Rainier National Park
55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304
These services are operated in an area under jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior. No discrimination by segregation or other means in the furnishing of services or privileges on the basis of race, creed, color, ancestry, sex, age, disabling condition or national origin is permitted in the use of this facility. Violation of this prohibition are punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
All of our climbs in Mt. Rainier National Park are 100% carbon neutral. We have partnered with Offsetters, Canada's leading carbon management solutions provider, to purchase offsets for our greenhouse gas emissions. Their projects are verified and validated by third parties to ensure that the emission reductions are real, additional, and permanent, so we know that our contribution is making a real difference.
By supporting this project, we prevent the equivalent amount of greenhouse gas emissions that were generated by our operations from being emitted somewhere else. These offsets allow us to achieve our goal of sustainability and further promote responsible environmental practices.
As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or [email protected].
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. Please call (208) 788-2870 or send email to [email protected].
We highly recommend travel insurance for this trip. Your travel insurance policy should include trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, and evacuation.
Navigating through the different options for travel insurance can be challenging. To help make the process straightforward, we have partnered with Harbor Travel Insurance because some of their policies are specifically designed for adventure travel and offer coverage for remote areas, and for activities like mountaineering, climbing, skiing, and trekking, without any altitude restrictions. Travel Guard and Travelex Insurance also provide Travel Insurance.
When purchasing Travel Insurance, here are a few items to consider:
- Read the fine print. Travel Insurance will refund you when canceling for a covered reason for any non-refundable cancellation fees. However, there are exclusions, so make sure you understand the “covered reasons.”
- Confirm that your activity is a covered “activity.” Not all travel insurance policies will offer coverage for activities such as mountaineering, climbing, skiing, or trekking adventures. Policies can also exclude coverage for activities due to the gear used (crampons, ice axe), for activities that go above certain elevations, or for activities in a particular region of the world. If there are exclusions, you may need to add an “Adventure” or “Sports” package to cover your activity.
- Verify that your state of residence is allowed with the policy that you are purchasing. Not all insurance companies offer policies in all 50 states.
Harbor Travel Insurance covers the following critical benefits:
- Evacuation to a nearest appropriate hospital once hospitalized.
- Trip cancellation/interruption, primary medical expense coverage, sporting goods, baggage loss, emergency dental, AD&D, and more.
- Completely integrated one-stop program with a single contact for emergency services to travel assistance and insurance claims
- 24/7 access to paramedics, nurses, and military veterans.
Harbor Travel Insurance is powered by Redpoint Resolutions, a medical and travel security risk company. Their team is comprised of special operations veterans, paramedics, Stanford Medicine affiliated physicians, former intelligence officers, insurance actuaries, and global security experts with dozens of years of experience in theaters around the world. The Redpoint network covers the globe, making them uniquely equipped to provide elite rescue travel insurance – in every sense of the word.
Rainier BaseCamp is located in Ashford, WA, and is the home of RMI Expeditions, Whittaker Mountaineering, Whittaker's Bunkhouse, and BaseCamp Bar and Grill. Ashford is located 75 miles from the Sea-Tac Airport, and most climbers traveling to Ashford will want to rent a car. This is the most convenient and reliable way to get here.
Ride Share: If you are interested in sharing a ride, please go to your RMI Account, then to "Discussion Board" and "Ride Share" to post your information.
Ashford Area Accommodations
The Hideaway Tiny House
Whittaker's Motel and Historic Bunkhouse | 360-569-2439
Nisqually Lodge | 360-569-8804
Alexander's Lodge | 360-569-2300
Wellspring Spa & Cabins | 360-569-2514
Guest Services Inc: (Paradise Inn and National Park Inn) | 253-569-2275
Mt. Rainier Visitor Association | 360-569-0910
You may also go to VisitRainier.com to search for accommodations in the Ashford Area.
For updated Mt. Rainier weather forecasts, click here.
Please click on the links below to see the Mt. Rainier webcams:
- Paradise view towards Mount Rainier
- Paradise view - East
- Paradise view - West
- Paradise view towards the Tatoosh Range
- Longmire view
- Air Quality Camera
Our guides work hard to ensure your well-being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 - 15% of the cost of the program. If you would rather not bring the guide gratuity with you on the trip, you can send a check or call the RMI office to pay with a credit card upon your return.
Mt Rainier became the nation's fifth National Park in 1899, some twenty-nine years after it was first climbed. Mt. Rainier National Park encompasses 235,625 acres and is 97% wilderness and 3% National Historic Landmark District. At 14,410', Mt. Rainier is the most prominent peak in the Cascade Range. It is a dormant volcano that last erupted approximately 150 years ago.
Guided mountaineering activity has taken place since the late 1800s, and The Mountain is still considered a prime training ground for climbing in Alaska, South America, and the Himalayas. With more than 20 active glaciers encompassing some 36 square miles of ice, Rainier boasts the largest ice cover of any peak in the lower 48 United States. Its weather can be deceptively gentle or as fierce as encountered on any high mountain anywhere in the world. There is a wealth of information on the Mt. Rainier National Park website. We encourage you to enhance your enjoyment of the climb with some fun facts about the Park and the history of climbing there.
General Information on Mt. Rainier National Park (MRNP) - www.nps.gov/mora
The Mountaineers Book - www.mountaineersbooks.org
Gateway Communities & Activities outside Mt. Rainier National Park - www.visitrainier.com
The Challenge of Rainier, by Dee Molenaar
Mt. Rainier - A Climbing Guide, by Mike Gauthier
Mt. Rainier: The Story Behind the Scenery, by Ray Snow
National Geographic Trails Illustrated MRNP topo map
This trip is open to all individuals in excellent physical condition. There are no technical climbing prerequisites to join this program.
Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life And Then Go Climb A Mountain
Physical Fitness Training
Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
- Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.
For the Expedition Skills Seminar - Kautz, you are preparing for:
- Steep hiking, climbing and glacier travel with a 50-60 lb load
- A 12+ hour summit day
- Mountaineering techniques requiring core strength and flexibility
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Below are approximate outlines of the program's physical demands that will be helpful in planning your training schedule and goals:
Total Hiking Time
Elevation Gain / Loss
2 - 2 ½ Hours
Gain = 1000'
Loss = 1000'
20 - 25 lbs
Gain = 1,000' - 2,500'
Loss = 500'
1.5 - 2 Miles
50 - 60 lbs
4 - 5 Hours
Gain = 2,500' - 4,500'
1 - 1.5 Miles
50 - 60 lbs
12 + Hours
Gain = 4,000'
Loss = 4,000'
20 - 25 lbs
3 - 4 Hours
Loss = 5,000'
50 - 60 lbs
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize. Climbers in excellent physical condition simply have more energy to commit to the acclimatization process throughout the days and nights of the ascent, allowing their bodies to adjust to the altitude more easily.
While the key to climbing high is proper acclimatization, this climb effectively moves up and down the mountain at a rate that exceeds our body’s ability to adjust (acclimate) to the high altitude. This is true whether a program spends 2 days or 5 days on the upper mountain (elevations above 10,000 feet). During our short climb, our bodies simply do not have the time to completely adjust to the altitude, and because of this short stay, our bodies do not typically succumb to altitude’s ill effects. In short, climbers generally experience the mild but uncomfortable, yet normal, symptoms of their bodies beginning the adjustment process. While climbers will feel better rested on the slightly longer programs, fitness remains the key factor in a climber’s performance.
In addition, physical performance at altitude is often related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days and weeks prior to summit day. Arriving healthy and well-rested, maintaining proper hydration and caloric intake, and protecting against unnecessary heat loss (staying warm) are usually key factors in an individual’s success on a short-term visit to altitude.
What You Need to know
A list of required personal equipment accompanies every RMI program, and the thought processes behind each item are much greater than simply “preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.” The list for your program considers factors such as seasonality, route conditions, weather, elevation, and more. As such, this list is framed within the broadest of contexts and is dynamic by its very nature.
Please follow this equipment list closely so that you will arrive for the gear check with all the required items. If you own the item, or have something you think is similar, bring it with you. If the guide feels it is inadequate, you can rent or purchase the necessary piece from Whittaker Mountaineering.
The guides’ recommendation on whether to bring along or leave behind specific item(s) comes during the gear check when the team first meets. If a guide deviates from the list, it is for a good reason. Their recommendation may be related to the weather, route conditions, freezing level, etc. Occasionally this recommendation comes at the expense of having previously purchased an item that may not be needed or the need to buy or rent an additional item.
Ultimately, there will never be a consensus for a “perfect” equipment list for any mountain. It does not exist because of the many variables climbers face throughout the climb. Fine-tuning will occur once you meet with your guides and continue throughout the program.
- Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering when they use code RMI2023 at checkout. This offer excludes sale items, rentals, meal packages, and Feathered Friends.
The Guide Pick is an example of the listed item, giving you an idea of the material and specifications of the item. This exact item does not need to be purchased or used; however, any item you choose must have similar characteristics and performance abilities to the Guide Pick.
Pack & Travel
Your pack must be large enough for your layers, climbing gear, and food, as well as a portion of your tent and your share of group equipment. The pack volume you choose depends on your experience and the quality of your gear; if you opt for a smaller pack, practice packing and make sure you can fit all of your gear with room to spare. You will not need a separate summit pack.
Sleeping Bag & Pad
We recommend a bag rated between 20° and 0° F. Allow ample room for movement. We recommend down over synthetic for its light weight, warmth, and packability. If climbing in April, May, June, or September, or if you know you sleep cold, consider a 0° F bag.
A full-length closed cell foam pad, used in combination with the inflatable sleeping pad.
The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm axe; and taller, use a 75 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.
We recommend a comfortable, adjustable alpine climbing harness. Removable, drop seat, or adjustable leg loops are convenient for managing your clothing layers over the course of the climb and facilitate going to the bathroom. If you rent a harness, a triple-action carabiner is included.
Used for clipping into the climbing rope. Harness rentals include this carabiner.
Used for clipping into anchors, etc.
Transceivers are worn on the upper mountain during your summit attempt. If you rent a transceiver fresh batteries will be provided.
For practicing fixed line travel. You guides will also provide one to practice with. Most people prefer an ascender designed for their weak hand, leaving their strong hand free to hold their ice axe. For example, a right-handed person would use a left-handed ascender.
7 mm cordelette in one continuous length OR one 240cm dyneema sling.
Wool or synthetic. It should provide warmth but also be thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.
Cloth or surgical face mask for use in situations where 6 feet of distance from others cannot be maintained.
Glacier glasses are protective sunglasses that provide close to 100% frame coverage (wrap-around frames and side shields ensure no light can enter from the top, bottom, and sides of the glasses) and transmit less than 10% of visual light.
Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.
Light weight liner or softshell gloves. Lighter colors absorb less sunlight while still offering UV protection.
Wind- and water-resistant, insulated gloves or mittens. These also serve as emergency backups if you drop or lose a lighter-weight glove.
We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light, and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, softshell, down, and synthetic options.
Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Light weight, light-colored, hooded baselayers (sun hoodys) are highly recommended for sun protection.
Your expedition-style heavy parka must extend below the waist, have an insulated hood, and be able to fit over the rest of your upper body layers. While the parka is worn primarily at rest breaks on summit day, it also serves as an emergency garment if needed. We recommend down rather than synthetic fill.
We recommend a moisture-wicking, active-wear bra.
We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.
Synthetic or wool.
Non-insulated, waterproof shell pants must be able to fit comfortable over your baselayer bottoms and softshell climbing pants. Full side zippers or 7/8 side zippers are required so that shell pants can be put on while wearing boots and crampons.
A light weight, synthetic pair of pants is a good option for the approach trek when hiking at lower altitudes and in warm conditions. These pants have no insulation, are typically made of thin nylon, and commonly feature zippers to convert between pants and shorts.
Boots are one of the most important pieces of mountaineering gear, and bringing the right pair is critical to your safety and success on Mt. Rainier. You will need one pair of boots for this climb, and the type of boot you wear will be dictated by freezing level. If the freezing level is below 10,000 feet, your guide will require the use of double boots. If the freezing level is above 10,000 feet, you may use either single or double boots. We consistently see freezing levels below 10,000 feet in April, May, June, and September, though periods of cold weather are not uncommon in July and August.
If this is your first time climbing, we highly recommend renting boots from our partner company Whittaker Mountaineering. Mountaineering boots do not break in like normal footwear so there is not much advantage in buying them unless you want to see how they feel on your feet before the climb or plan on doing more mountaineering in the future. If you rent, you can switch between single and double boots the day of your climb.
SINGLE BOOTS: Insulated, full-shank, and crampon-compatible leather or synthetic boots designed for mountaineering. Single boots tend to be lighter and more comfortable than double boots at the expense of warmth.
A pair of approach shoes or lightweight boots for approaches and hiking on rugged terrain after the snow melts (typically by mid-July). Can also be used as a camp shoe.
A knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots. This will protect you from catching your crampon spikes on loose clothing. Not needed if using a boot with an integrated gaiter.
Either wool or synthetic. Whatever sock combination you are accustomed to wearing during your training or previous adventures (whether single medium weight socks, a medium weight with a liner sock, two medium weight socks together, etc.), should work just fine for this climb.
First Aid & Medications
Our guides carry comprehensive medical kits, so keep yours small and light. We recommend a selection of adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, Moleskin and blister care, medical tape and/or duct tape, basic pain reliever, and personal medications.
You are responsible for providing your own meals and snack food in town and while on Mt. Rainier. See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.
Packable plastic bowl. Collapsable models can work but must be handled carefully to avoid unintended collapsing. A lid is a great feature.
Insulated outdoor-style mug. We recommed a model with a removable lid, which helps retain heat and prevent spills. You may also choose to use 0.5L insulated bottle or a 0.5L nalgene.
A spoon or spork made of durable plastic or anodized metal. A long-handled spoon can be nice, especially if eating from a freeze-dried meal pouch.
One-liter water bottles with wide mouths made of co-polyester (BPA-free plastic). No hydration systems as they tend to freeze on the upper mountain and be hard to fill. Cold water for drinking is provided.
This will be your personal trash bag.
Heavy-duty trash compacter bags for use as waterproof pack/stuff sack liners. You can also use a a waterproof pack liner.
Include toilet paper, hand sanitizer, toothbrush and toothpaste, and wet wipes. Bring a quantity appropriate to the duration of your trip.
We recommend small tubes of SPF 30 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.
We recommend SPF 15 or higher.
Spare prescription glasses if you wear contact lenses/eyeglasses.
Practice using this before coming on the climb!
One clearly-marked wide-mouth or collapsible bottle for overnight use.
Many smartphones have excellent cameras. Action cameras, small point-and-shoots, and compact dSLRs are lightweight and work well at altitude.
A small power bank, enough to charge a phone or e-reader several times.
We recommend bringing a selection of comfortable clothing to wear while traveling as well as pre- and post-trip.
Purchase travel insurance.
Arrange lodging in Ashford.
Reserve rental equipment.
Arrange transportation to Ashford.
Be in the best shape of your life!
RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, group cooking gear, shovels, climbing ropes, and blue bags (for solid waste disposal).
Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a cell phone for emergency contact.
On the Expedition Skills Seminar - Kautz you will need 5 mountain lunches, 3 dinners, and 3 breakfasts while on the mountain.
Mountain lunches are eaten during short breaks throughout the day. We continually snack to keep our energy levels up while we climb - lunch begins just after breakfast and ends just before dinner! Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.
The importance of having foods that are genuinely enjoyed cannot be overstated. Eating properly is the key to maintaining strength while in the mountains. In order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude we aim to have a variety of foods that stimulate the whole palate, from sweet to sour to salty.
Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, toffees, Life Savers), gummy bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).
Single-serving instant oatmeal or Cream-of-Wheat makes a good main course fare. A variety of granola bars, pastries, fruit and a hot drink mix of coffee, tea, cocoa or cider are suggested.
Freeze-dried entrees are very convenient; it is best to be familiar with their taste (and the effects they may have on your stomach) in advance of your program. Instant soups and Cup-o'-Noodles are popular supplements to your main course. As an alternative, you might consider bringing a cold main dish such as chicken, pizza, sandwiches, pasta salads or stir-fry. We also recommend your bring hot beverage mixes such as coffee, tea, cocoa, or cider.
Don't worry too much about the nutritional aspect of meals; concern yourself more with a high calorie intake. Most importantly, choose a variety of foods that you like to eat. One of the normal, albeit disconcerting, adjustments to altitude is a slight loss of appetite.
Ample cold water is available for drinking and replenishing water bottles. Hot water will also be provided for your meals (freeze-dried dinners, instant soups, instant oatmeal, etc) and hot drinks. When planning your menu, don't bring any items that require extensive preparation, cooking or simmering. We are able to provide you with boiling water, but do not have the ability to actually cook food items.
Whittaker Mountaineering Meal Packages: Well Balanced Meals Designed By Climbers For Climbers
Deposit Payments: A non-refundable deposit payment of $550 per person secures your reservation.
- Deposit payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express*, e-check/ACH, check from a U.S. bank, or wire transfer**.
- **Wire transfers must cover all fees charged by your bank. The amount of the incoming wire to our bank must equal the balance payment amount.
Balance Payments: The balance payment is due 120 days before the start of your program.
- Balance payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express*, e-check/ACH, check from a U.S. bank or wire transfer.**
- **Wire transfers must cover all fees charged by your bank. The amount of the incoming wire to our bank must equal the balance payment amount.
- A payment reminder is emailed approximately three weeks before your payment due date. If your balance payment is not received 120 days before the start of your program, your reservation will be canceled, and all program fees forfeited.
- Payment in full is required when registering for a program within 120 days of the departure date.
*There is a 3% surcharge on all credit/debit card transactions. Credit/debit cards are not accepted for payments of $10,000 or more.
The $550 per person deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable.
- All cancellations require written notification. Once the RMI Office receives your written notification of cancellation, the following policy applies:
- If you cancel 120 or more days before the start of your program, the $550 per person deposit will not be refunded.
- If you cancel less than 120 days before the start of your program, no refunds or credits will be issued.
Due to the time-sensitive nature of these programs, and the amount of preparation time required for this program, we strictly adhere to our policy and cannot make exceptions for any reason.
We highly recommend travel insurance for this trip. Please see our Travel Tab for details.
Change of Date
Date changes are subject to availability and apply only to the current climbing season. Date changes may be requested at anytime up to 90 days prior to your departure date for a $200 fee per person. There are no date changes allowed less than 90 days before departure.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. Managing risk is RMI’s number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering, but they cannot eliminate them. Objective hazards include rockfall, icefall, avalanches, slides or falls by individuals and rope teams on steeper slopes, weather-related problems including cold, heat, high winds, and other unnamed dangers that can occur while climbing.
You are choosing to engage in an activity in which guided and non-guided climbers have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire group may have to turn around without reaching the summit.
Failure to reach the summit due to a person’s own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route conditions, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.) are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.’s responsibility and will not result in a refund, credit, or reschedule.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Each Participant is required to share in the responsibility of the safety and success of the team. For this reason, we ask that each Participant:
- Possess the necessary physical and mental fitness required for this program.
- Review and understand all program information.
- Update the RMI Office if there are any changes to your health or medical information before departure.
- Be properly attired and equipped as outlined in the Equipment List.
- Act in a considerate manner toward all team members.
- Help minimize our environmental impact and follow appropriate Leave No Trace practices.
- Describe yourself, honestly and accurately, in terms of fitness, health, skills, abilities, and equipment to your guide staff.
- Communicate with your guide staff if there are any changes in your medications or health while on your program.
- Adhere to the advice of your guide staff.
- Continue to self-assess throughout the program, evaluating your fitness, health, skills, and abilities in terms of the demands required of the program.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a program or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if the RMI Guide Staff determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for, or capable of participating in the program, or for any other reason that may compromise the safety, health, or well-being of the Participant or the entire group. If this decision is made, the Participant will not receive any refunds or credits and will be financially responsible for all additional costs associated with an early departure, including, but not limited to, evacuation, transportation, hotel reservations, meals, etc.
Zero Tolerance Harassment Policy
RMI does not tolerate harassment or mistreatment of our participants or employees. Inappropriate conduct under this policy may include conduct that creates a disrespectful, intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for a participant or employee. Engaging in such conduct is a violation of this policy.
RMI may consider conduct to be in violation of the policy even if it falls short of unlawful harassment under applicable law. When determining whether conduct violates this policy, we will consider whether a reasonable person could conclude that the conduct created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, or demeaning environment.
Violating this policy may result in removal from a program and refusal to provide services indefinitely. We place the utmost value on the safety of our participants and employees. Please report any incidents to RMI management.
All participants must be 18 years old at the time of registration.
RMI’s program schedule and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, group strength, terrain, or other environmental factors, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including but not limited to increases in program fees, changes to program schedule or itinerary, and changes to guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program. Once the program has started, the Lead Guide will decide on any changes to the itinerary, including ending the program early if the continuation of the program may compromise the safety, health, or well-being of the group.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather, route conditions, or for any other reason. In such a case, we will make every effort to reschedule the Participant on a different program date. If rescheduling is not possible, we will issue the Participant a refund for all program fees paid to RMI, less any non-refundable payments made on behalf of the Participant in preparation of the program and prior to the cancellation of the program. These non-refundable portions of the program include but are not limited to, the Cost Recovery Fee and Entrance Fee paid to the National Park Service. RMI cannot be responsible for any non-refundable expenses the Participant incurred in preparation for the program (i.e., airline tickets, hotel reservations, rental cars, equipment purchases or rentals, etc.).
Once a program begins, there are no refunds or credits for weather-related cancellations or for a program that may end early due to weather, route conditions, or any other circumstances that may compromise the health, safety, or well-being of the group. Furthermore, if the Participant decides for any reason not to begin a program or to discontinue a program at any time, no refunds or credits will be issued. The Participant will be responsible for all additional costs associated with an early departure, including, but not limited to, evacuation, transportation, hotel reservations, meals, etc.
Land Costs are provided as a package, and refunds or credits will not be issued for any unused costs.
The Participant understands and agrees that RMI assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with any travel and hospitality services provided to the Participant by other companies in connection with the program, including, but not limited to, the services provided by airlines, hotels, rental cars, and transportation companies. In addition, RMI is not responsible for any act, error, omission, or any injury, loss, accident, delay, irregularity, or danger by a supplier of travel or hospitality services to the Participant in connection with the RMI program. The Participant will be responsible for all costs associated with any travel delays, missed connections, or missing baggage that requires additional arrangements (separate transportation, hotel accommodations, meals, etc.) to be made on your behalf for you or your baggage to rejoin the program.
What is the Guide-to Client Ratio on this program?
We use a 1 guide per 2 climber ratio on the Kautz Glacier route.
What is the maximum group size?
The maximum group size of any program anywhere on Mt. Rainier is 12 individuals, including guides.
WHAT ARE MY CHANCES OF REACHING THE SUMMIT OF MT RAINIER?
There are three main categories that generally prevent climbers from reaching the summit: weather, route conditions, and individual fitness.
In an average year, 21% of our climbs do not reach the summit due to weather, route conditions, or both.
Avalanche hazards, high winds, poor visibility, rain, and snow, can singly or in conjunction with the other elements, impact our ability to safely climb. Your guides are charged with managing the risks encountered on the climb and maintaining a reasonable margin of safety.
If weather conditions reduce our margin of safety to an unacceptable level, we will no longer be able to climb. This may mean we turn around, or we may not even ascend above camp.
On Mt. Rainier, guides work on the route continually throughout the climbing season. Route work involves rerouting to avoid hazards. This can include overhead (icefall and rockfall) and underfoot (crevasses and steep slopes) hazards. As the route becomes more complex and steeper throughout the season, route work can include kicking steps, chopping, shoveling, setting running belays, fixed lines, and ladders. Some changes occur daily on the route and may necessitate a quick fix by your guide team during a climb. A larger reroute may be needed multiple times throughout our season, requiring a guide team to work multiple days to establish a new route.
Generally speaking, the route is never closed or “out,” and there is usually a way to the top. However, it might not have the appropriate margin of safety needed for our climbers (it might require more advanced mountaineering skills and experience levels). When this happens, all the guide services on the mountain coordinate resources to establish a new route. Like mountain weather, we manage but can’t control the climbing route, and it is not unheard of for the route to be unclimbable for multiple days. While the route work is being done, we will ascend with our climbers as high as is safely possible and appropriate on the existing route.
Fitness is the one factor that you have the most control of, and that has the highest impact on your success, safety, and fun. Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor. The length of the climbing route dictates the required fitness for the climb. We do not have fast or slow rope teams – our teams move at a steady pace determined by the duration and complexity of the given route.
Climbers do have control over their ability to affect their mental fortitude to some extent, and their fitness, to a very large extent. Therefore, you can maximize your chances of a successful summit climb by focusing on individual fitness. Over 50 years of guiding climbers on Mt. Rainier has shown us that the following factors have the largest influence on a climber’s ability to reach the summit.
Age: We can’t control it; we get older every year. Simply put, the older you are, the more fit you need to be. As we age, our max heart rate decreases, leaving us with a smaller heart rate reserve. Hard efforts feel harder, and we can’t sustain the same intensity efforts for as long. Focusing on your fitness regime is the best way to compensate.
Body Mass Index (BMI): Your BMI is not as significant as your age and is not the best representation of fitness. However, if we use BMI as a corollary for whether an individual is at a healthy weight, slightly overweight, or significantly overweight, then BMI data shows that climbers with a BMI in the normal range (18.5 - 24.9) will have a better chance of reaching the summit than climbers with a higher BMI.
Aerobic Threshold: Our aerobic threshold is the level of intensity (or heart rate) at which your metabolism switches from a sustainable level of effort in which your muscles can replenish their energy stores at the same rate they burn them to one in which they are burning more than they can replenish. Beyond this intensity, our performance is necessarily time limited. Performance in endurance sports is highly reliant on Aerobic Threshold. Your Aerobic Threshold can be changed significantly with training.