Rainier: Camp Muir

After trudging up the snowfields, I realized that we still had to set up the tents. What I did not realize is that we were not staying in Camp Muir, but on the snowfields just below Camp Muir.

The sloped snowfields.

You may realize that it is uncomfortable and dangerous to sleep on sloped snowy surface. So Phil announced that we would have to start digging. Out came the ice axes to chop through the snow and cut it into shoveable chunks. Out came the shovels to clear the snow and flatten out a platform.

Up go the tents. Digging in the stakes into the snow and using our hiking poles for additional stakes.

We now had our home for the next three days.

e would also need a kitchen, so we dug a hole, wind screen and shelf for the kitchen. Three days on the mountain meant we would have to take care of other bodily actions. So down the slope we dug a piss hole.

After setting up camp we put the kitchen to use and cooked up some dinner. Hot dogs for everyone with some pudding for desert.

After dinner we had the Phil said to hit the sack if we were tired. I immediately dove in to the tent and went off to dreamland.

In the middle of the night I had this dream of tumbling down the mountain repeatedly slamming my head into the snow and ice. Half awake I realized that I was not moving but the tent slapping back and forth. Stopping when it hit my head only to send it back out to balloon out and ricochet back into my head. As I became more conscious I learned that the wind was blowing at gale force and was slapping our tent around. Groggily, I slipped on my boots and jacket while the tent kept sending shots to my head. Ed was still sleeping like a baby since he was on the lee side of the tent. Out into the night air, I vainly tried to tighten the guy wires and re-secure some loose stakes. After a few minutes of messing around with the supports it looked like I had tightened up the sides enough to allow me to get some sleep.

The Climb of Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier is the highest mountain in the northwest United States, towering in the backdrop of Seattle and Tacoma. I decided to climb it. Well, actually Jeff decided to climb it and convinced me to also climb it.

After dislocating my elbow in the months leading up to the climb and losing my luggage and climbing gear just before the climb, I finally made it to the mountain.

The climb starts at Paradise (5,400 feet). We hiked with our gear up to Camp Muir (10,600 feet) which about 4.5 miles and takes most of the day. We set up our tents just below Camp Muir.

The second day was glacier training, self-rescue and mountaineering training on Cowlitz Glacier.

Then at midnight, we wake early to head up to Cathedral Gap to our first rest stop.

The view from Paradise Lodge

Jeff and Connie resting on the Muir Snowfield

Ed resting on the Muir Snowfield

After hiking up the snowfields, we set up camp: Rainier: Camp Muir.

Ed learning to ice climb

Other climbing teams passing behind our camp at Muir

The view from our tent

A climbing team coming up from Cathedral Gap to the first rest stop

Another climbing team coming into the first rest stop on the Ingraham Glacier

Coming out on top of the Ingraham Glacier

Ed at the second rest stop, with Mount Adams in the background

Phil pulling one of guys out of a steam vent at the summit

In the summit crater (I am the pumpkin on the left.)

Thanks to the Guides at RMI


and our head guide: Phil Ershler

Required Equipment for Mount Rainier

This was the required equipment list given out by Rainier Mountaineering for my climb of Mount Rainier.

Each individual participating on a summit climb or seminar MUST have the items listed below. Do not jeopardize your safety, comfort or success – bring every item.

  • lug-sole climbing boots*
  • longjohns (top & bottom)
  • crampons*
  • ice axe*
  • ski poles*
  • backpack*
  • sleeping bag (rated to 32° F)**
  • parka (down or synthetic fill)**
  • rain/wind jacket and pants**
  • gaiters**
  • wool or pile/fleece pants**
  • 2 wool or pile/fleece sweaters**
  • 1 pair light wool or synthetic liner gloves
  • 1 pair wool, pile/fleece mitts or gloves**
  • 1 pair wind/waterproof shell mitts or gloves**
  • 2 pair wool or synthetic socks
  • wool or synthetic stocking cap
  • sun cream and lip balm
  • 2 one-quart water bottles
  • 2 trail lunches
  • 1 dinner
  • 1 breakfast
  • eating utensils
  • 3+ large plastic garbage bags
  • glacier glasses with side protection**
  • headlamp and 2 sets of new batteries**

Optional Equipment

  • Hiking Shorts
  • T-shirt
  • Sun Hat
  • Bandana
  • Earplugs
  • Facemask
  • Ski Goggles (for foul weather or if you wear contacts)
  • Tennis Shoes or Light Hikers

Provided Equipment

RMI provides the following equipment for all Expedition Programs:

  • Harnesses
  • Helmets
  • Avalanche Beacons
  • Ropes
  • Avalanche Probes
  • Shovels
  • Technical Hardware (pickets, carabiners, ascenders, ice screws, etc.)

* Available for rental in Ashford at Summit Haus and in Paradise at the Guide House. NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.
** Available for rental only at The Summit Haus next to Whittaker’s Bunkhouse in Ashford (360) 569-2142. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.