Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Preparing To Climb Mount Rainier

©Bert Gildart: OK! It’s official and actually has been in the mill for some time. On August 10, 11, and 12, three aging men are going to attempt to climb Mount Rainier.

Mount Adams, as seen from Camp Muir, 10,000'

Mount Adams as seen from Camp Muir

Obviously I’m one, and the other two include David Bristol and Knox Williams. Though I’m just now acknowledging our climb, the three of us have been preparing for the hike for the last two months. David, a veterinarian, is now from Texas, while Knox, a retired weather researcher, is from Colorado.

David and Knox grew up together in Texas, and then moved to different parts of the country. David moved to Montana shortly after serving as a veterinarian in Vietnam taking care of German Shepherds in the Canine Corps, and he’s been one of my best friends for the past 35 years. Several years ago he moved back to Texas. I met Knox through David, and the three of us have backpacked in various parts of Glacier. Though we’re all in our sixties, I’m in my mid sixties, and am the oldest.

David and Knox have also climbed various mountains, to include the Grand Teton. I’ve also been active, and include in my outdoor resume a backpack trip with Janie through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

We want to climb Mount Rainier for a variety of reasons. From all along the route, the views are incredible, something I know from having climbed part way up years ago. That’s when I made these photographs, shooting a 2-1/4 Hasselblad.

But there’s more: First, we all look forward to the challenge and the joy of having the goal of really getting ourselves in shape, for the climb is rugged. At 14,410 feet Mount Rainier is the highest peak in the Cascade Range, and the elevation gain from Paradise is almost 9,000 feet. Though I’m not sure what David and Knox are doing, I’ve been riding my mountain bike vigorously covering distances of over 30 miles, trying each time out to cut down the time. I’ve also been lifting weights.

As well as the challenge of physical conditioning, I’m also fascinated by the mountaineering movement, and Mount Rainier is steeped in such history.

Though Janie will be joining me, she’ll be serving in a support role. We plan to tow our Airstream to Mount Rainier about a week prior to my climb to acclimate to the altitude. David will also arrive early and will join us and the two of us intend to take a course in the technical aspects of mountaineering.

Crevasses challenge climbers

Crevasses chalenge climbers

Mount Rainier is not a cake walk and we know that. Two weeks ago a relatively young man lost his way and perished. For that reason, we’ve searched for a guide and, finally, after several weeks of phone tag, all has fallen into place.

We’re now registered in a window permitting a three-day climb.

In years past, I’ve climbed to Camp Muir (10,000′), named for John Muir, a wilderness champion of his day. The camp is a stop over and from there some continue the ascent the very next day, starting at 2 a.m. to avoid avalanches. Generally, that’s the itinerary our guide has for us, but he’s allocated three days for us. In his itinerary we will climb on day one to Camp Muir and camp.

Next day we will proceed to an intermediate spot located at an elevation of about 12,000 feet, and then ascend the remaining 2,500 feet on the third day. After reaching the summit, we then turn around and return the same day to our vehicle, which in this case will be with Janie.

Only 50% of those who attempt to climb Mount Rainier make it and are stopped for a variety of reasons to include deteriorating weather. At my age, I also realize other factors could crop up, but as the old adage goes: Nothing ventured nothing gained. I hope to make it and will post periodic blogs throughout July about pre-conditioning—and more about the reasons for the climb.

My doctor has given me the green light, but if something unforeseen happens, such as a pulled Achilles tendon or weather, I tell myself I will not be disappointed. After all, there’s always next year.

4 Responses to “Preparing To Climb Mount Rainier”

  1. Rich C Says:


    I look forward to the trip report!

  2. Nancy Zatkoff Says:

    I know you will be just fine. Have a great climb. I’ll be tuned in.

  3. Lynn Says:

    We (I) are (am) interested in doing Ranier too, let us know how you like your guide! Grand Teton is on the agenda for next summer with my sis, maybe Ranier a couple summers after that.

  4. ken paterson Says:

    I am searching for the best way up Rainier and came across your site, which I have enjoyed. So thought I would say hello, I am a photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland who hopes to climb Rainier next year for the Scottish Year of Homecoming and also after brain tumor and requirement to learn how to walk again to get back into beloved mountains, to follow in Muir’s footsteps (I am 51) to celebrate Famous Scots and get the people of my nation looking towards the stars and foreign shores with the dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit we have let slip to a degree.
    Any advice / contact is appreciated.
    Ken Paterson