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A mountain climbers pack can weigh anywhere from 45 lbs to 75lbs, based on the conditions of the mountain and the amount of time they are there. Our trip will consist of 5 days, living out of the pack on your back, in extreme cold, snowy, winter conditions.



BACKPACK: A 4,000-5,000 cubic inch pack is the recommended size for this climb. A separate summit pack is not needed.

SLEEPING BAG: A bag rated to 20° F will keep you warm. A small deviation is fine. You may use either goose down or synthetic.


AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVER: A climb of Rainier involves travel in avalanche terrain. A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well.

HELMET: Helmets are required for glacier travel and on the upper mountain.

CLIMBING HARNESS: A comfortable, adjustable harness is necessary for training and while climbing on the upper mountain.

ICE AXE: 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.

CRAMPONS: The 10 to 12 point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. Rigid frame crampons designed for technical ice climbing are not recommended on Mt. Rainier. If you bring your own crampons, bring the appropriate repair kit/replacement parts and adjusting tools.

TREKKING or SKI POLES: Trekking poles are used on the approach and to provide additional stability in adverse weather.



WARM HAT: A wool or synthetic hat. It should be warm, but thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.

BALACLAVA/ NECK GAITER: Required for cold and windy days.

BALL CAP: A lightweight ball cap, bandana or sun hat works very well.

GLACIER GLASSES : A pair of dark-lensed sunglasses with side shields or full wrap-type sunglasses is required.

GOGGLES: Amber or rose-tinted goggles are required for adverse weather. Additionally, contact lens wearers may find a clear-lensed goggle very useful on windy, dusty nights.

HEADLAMP: With an “alpine start,” we will travel approximately four to six hours in the dark. We strongly recommend Lithium batteries as they perform well in a cold environment. If you choose alkaline batteries, bring an additional set, and ensure that they are kept in a warm pocket while climbing.


A good glove / mitten combination is important because of the variety of weather conditions experienced throughout your climb. Below are some recommendations. Your glove combination should include three separate layers that work well together.

LIGHT WEIGHT GLOVE: One pair of fleece or wool gloves.

MEDIUM WEIGHT INSULATED GLOVE: One pair of wind/water resistant ski gloves.

HEAVY WEIGHT INSULATED GLOVE or MITTEN: One pair of wind/water resistant, insulated gloves or mittens for protection against wind, snow and cold. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove.


BASE LAYER : One long-sleeve, light or medium weight top will be used as your base layer. Light colored tops are ideal, since dark colors absorb heat from the sun, and neck zippers will provide extra ventilation.

INSULATING LAYERS : A variety of insulating layers work well on Mt. Rainier. Your choice of garment (fleece or soft-shell) and the number of garments (one or two) should be based on how well you do in the cold. Generally speaking, we recommend two layers that work in combination with each other.

SHELL JACKET: You will need a jacket made of rain/wind resistant material with an attached hood.

INSULATED PARKA with HOOD: This item becomes of highest importance when we are faced with poor weather. Additionally, this oversized, insulated parka traps heat at rest breaks. The parka may be either goose down or synthetic fill and should have at least two inches of insulation thickness. It should fit over all of your clothing layers, including your wind shell. We do not recommend wind jackets with zip-in liners or down sweaters as substitutes as they are not warm enough for this climb.


BASE LAYER: One pair light or medium weight bottoms will be used as your base layer.

INSULATING LAYER : One pair of fleece or windstopper pants is required for the upper mountain. Full-length side zippers are recommended for making quick clothing adjustments, and for ventilating options.

SHELL PANT: A pant made of rain/wind resistant material will be needed for the climb. Full-length side zippers are a great option, facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots and crampons.



MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS: Insulated plastic boots are the preferred choice for ascents on Mt. Rainier. They provide the best insulation as well as a more rigid sole for kicking steps and holding crampons. Some leather boots that have Vibram soles and full shanks are also adequate, but they will need to be a stiffer design and might still result in cold feet on summit day. Lightweight hiking boots are not acceptable as they don’t work well with crampons, or in very cold or wet weather.

GAITERS: A knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots, will be needed. This will protect you from catching your crampons on loose clothing.

SOCKS : Two pair, either wool or synthetic. Some people find liner socks useful for reducing friction.



MEALS and EATING UTENSILS: Four trail lunches (that includes a trail lunch for the School), two dinners and two breakfasts are needed. See Food Recommendations on the website. Utensils consist of a bowl, insulated mug and spoon.

2 - 3 WATER BOTTLES: Two or three sturdy one-quart water bottles are required. Wide mouth bottles are ideal since their opening is less likely to freeze. If you bring a hydration system, also bring two one-quart water bottles as back up.

2 LARGE GARBAGE BAGS and a 1 GALLON ZIP-LOCK BAG: We recommend lining your backpack and sleeping bag stuff sack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry. Please use the Zip-Lock as your personal trash bag.

TOILET ARTICLES: Toothbrush, toothpaste and a few hand/sanitary wipes. Bring some personal toilet paper for your climb.

EAR PLUGS for sleeping.


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