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12 Things You Didn’t Know About Climbing Mount Rainier

Author: Tye Chapman

August 25, 2014

Tye Chapman knows a thing or two about Mount Rainier—he’s the operations manager for OR partner International Mountain Guides, after all. So we knew he’d have all the dirty details when we asked him to write about the things most people don’t know about Rainier. Here’s what he said.

  1. The first recorded summit was in 1870 by General Hazard Stevens and Philemon Van Trump. Nowadays nearly 10,000 people attempt to climb Mt. Rainier every year.
     
  2. There are more than 50 climbing routes on Mt. Rainier, with the vast majority of the climbers heading up via the Disappointment Cleaver Route. The second most popular route is the Emmons Glacier Route.
     
  3. IMG partner George Dunn has the most summits of Mt. Rainier at 509 (and counting!).
     
  4. Mount Rainier is an active stratovolcano. You can see—and smell—evidence of this several places on the mountain, particularly on the summit, which has steam caves around the summit crater.
     
  5. You’ve gotta poop in a bag when you’re on the mountain. It’s called the blue bag and it’s exactly what you think it is. It’s a blue bag you poop in. The trick—besides pooping in it—is to make sure it gets back to Camp Muir or the trailhead in one piece.


     
  6. Cell service on the mountain is spotty at best. There are a few secret spots we know about that are reliable to get a text or two out, but we’re not telling. Hint: One of them is located on a specific corner of the table at Camp Muir—if you’ve been to Muir, you know the table we’re talking about. Verizon is better at Muir, and AT&T is better at the Flats or on the Emmons. Leave the T-Mobile phone at home.
     
  7. Uphill traffic has the right-of-way. They’re doing the hard work, so let them pass.
     
  8. On the Muir snowfield, stay in the boot pack on the way uphill. But more importantly, stay out of it on the way down. The uphill traffic has to work a lot harder if the boot pack is all blown out by the downhill traffic.
     
  9. Slow and steady wins the race. What might feel slow to start probably feels just right later in the day.


     
  10. Most climbers eat real food. You’ll never see a guide eating a Powerbar or a GU packet. You’ll see them eating sandwiches, fruit, bagels, chips, pizza, quesadillas, etc. If you don’t love it at sea level, you’re going to hate it on the upper mountain. 150-200 calories every hour or two between breakfast and dinner keeps the fire burning.
     
  11. If you drink coffee at home, drink coffee on the mountain. Your body’s addiction to the good stuff trumps the small negative effects that coffee might have.
     
  12. It is worth it.

For more information about IMG's guided climbs of Rainier, visit www.mountainguides.com.

Tye Chapman

The facts are these: Tye Chapman is the Operations Manager at International Mountain Guides. Sounds fancy right? Well it boils down to this: He’s like an umpire, you only notice him when he screws up…which thankfully isn’t all that often.

He’s also IMG’s social media guy with the tweets, posts, blogs and the like. He’s the go-to-guy for all the guides—read: counselor, gear guy, boss, life coach and occasional ride to SeaTac—and is often the first line of defense on the phones. He’s also been known to lead a trip or two for IMG. Tye, his wife Erika and aging canine McKenzie live in West Seattle.