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Seattle_Wayne
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 8:46 am 
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I finally got around to hiking Mount Si yesterday on a nice sunny day. I read in the description that if you can hike Mount Si in two hours or less, you're physically ready to hike Mount Rainier.

Mount Si was challenging, for sure. 3,100 feet of gain spread out over four miles but I've hiked tougher hikes with a lot more challenging terrain.

Some of you on this forum have been hiking a lot longer than me, have a lot more experience than I, have probably even summited Mount Rainier. In your expert, professional hiking opinion, what makes Mount Si so terribly important that the description would say this?

I hiked Si yesterday with no traction device going up, used them going down and had a 15lbs pack on and made it to the lunch spot in two hours seventeen minutes.
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Malachai Constant
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 9:08 am 
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Apples and Oranges, Si is a well groomed trail to the top easy rock scramble of around 4000, regularly done by trail runners. Rainier is a 9000, snow climb requiring a camp and full backpack to 4000. Rainier also requires alpine gear and more importantly knowledge of its use. The Guide Service could drag you up but thy even require training. Although commonly climbed Rainier is a BIG Mountain with attendant objective dangers including 14,410 altitude which has killed even in shape climbers.

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neek
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 9:10 am 
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up.gif on getting up Si, but the idea that this qualifies someone for Rainier is nonsense, even dangerous IMO.  Rainier is 9K gain at altitude where the air is much thinner, on more technical and unpredictable terrain, when you're carrying more, working on a rope team, subjecting yourself to sudden and deadly weather shifts, etc.  Inexperienced and unfit people can ruin expensive guided trips for others too.  At least get to the point where you can do Adams in a day before you sign up for something.
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pula58
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 9:21 am 
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If you can hike up Mt Si in 2 Hrs. with a fully loaded backpacking with overnight gear (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad stove, food, fuel, etc), rope, crampons, helmet, climbing harness, ice axe, etc. it is a good step towards having the fitness to climb Mt Rainier...but..and it is a big but... there are more issues to climbing Rainier than simply physical fitness and strength.
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zimmertr
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 10:24 am 
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I haven't ever climbed Rainier or Si but I think a huge component not mentioned so far is mental fitness.

Having to cross a crevasse on a skinny wobbly ladder, walking through a snowfield for miles with reduced visibility, etc can really mess with someone.
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Randito
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 10:31 am 
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FWIW:  One of the qualifications one needs to enroll in the Mountaineers basic climbing class is to have a time of 2 hours or less from the Mt Si trailhead to Haystack Basin on Mt Si,  while carrying a 35 lb pack and wearing boots.   

That's the basic fitness expected to start the process of training and education to climb Mt Rainier.  The "graduation" climb for the course is often Mt Baker , which has less red tape issues, technically  less challenging and less risk of altitude sickness issues.

Roughly 50% of Mt Rainier climbing attempts result in a successful summit.   Weather and fitness issues at he top two issues.


I would say that doing a "North Bend Triple Crown" is a better gauge of the fitness that will enable a successful Mt Rainier summit.   A triple crown is doing Mt Si, Mailbox and Granite Mtn in one day.  McClellan Butte and Mt Tenneriffe are other peaks that could be include in a triple.
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Brian R
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 10:45 am 
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I won't address the experience factor here--or that Rainier should never be described as a 'hike.' I've summited Rainier almost twenty times, by eight routes, and my conditioning metric for Mount Si would be at least 1:15 from the parking lot to the high bench without weight. 1:05 or 1:10 even better. A lot of other factors too; have you been to 14,000' before? I've seen otherwise fit people struggle with altitude. Cold and sleep deprivation are overlooked factors too IMO. Adams in a day (without any cardio struggle) is a good fitness indicator; Baker better for the experience/planning/campcraft. In my experience, mountain bikers and cyclists seem to do better than runners on Rainier. Not sure why--not a scientific statement at all.
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uww
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 11:40 am 
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If you can get a non-weight-weenie overnight pack up Si without quitting you probably have what it takes to get up Rainier the standard way, though it may not be pretty. I agree with the Mountaineers- if you can do that in 2 hours or less fitness is not going to be an issue on almost any approach in the Cascades if you maintain that level of fitness.

If you can do the North Bend triple in a day you have the fitness to do Rainier in a day, let alone trudging up with a commercial/first timer 2 day rope team.

Like others have said, hiking vs mountaineering is apples and oranges. But as far as pure fitness level goes I will agree with the rule of thumb- the fitness level required to join a commercial rope team and summit Rainier is nothing herculean.  Allegedly the better shape you are in the less chance you have of having altitude issues- which for me along with weather and pace/leaving too late issues are bigger factors. Everyone is different in this regard- some super in shape ultrarunners can't handle 11k.

For me hiking/mountaineering it is far more of a mental game than a physical one-  I bet more people have summitted DC from the couch than people who have finished a marathon in the same shape. Unless you are truly an elite athlete pushing boundaries and new routes, daylight and associated conditions are a factor for mountaineering-  there is only so much you can be expected to do safely in a day.  But if you look at the rise of ultrarunning and marathon running, it is clear you do not seed special genetics to have your body do these things- it's having the ability to keep pushing forward.
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silence
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 11:53 am 
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For yearly conditioning, we routinely hiked Si usually via the old trail (because it's steeper and less developed) 3 or 4 times in early to late spring (sometimes on ice) building up to 40lb packs. It's a great work out, but, I agree that's not all you need. Climbing Adams and Mt St Helens in the snow, both non glacier travel, but requiring snow and ice gear and the knowledge of how to use it, would be good too. Plus a few trips up Granite in snow and the direct winter route up Dickerman. And a hike or two up to Camp Muir at 10K (in snow all the way from Paradise is best) will give you an idea about how you acclimate to higher altitudes. We did a lot of this before summitting Rainier. Plus, we climbed Baker three weeks before. And, of course, as others have said, you need extensive training in glacier travel, too.

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cascadeclimber
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 12:07 pm 
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33 Rainier summits here. Ranging from three days to multiple single-push summits, and at least one summit in every month of the year.

There is no hard and fast rule about being 'ready' to climb any mountain, including Rainier. Among other things, most of us locals live very near sea level. Seattle the summit of Rainier is more elevation change than Everest base camp to that summit. You will be affected by that change. How that shows up differs from person to person and, in my experience, trip to trip.

I've seen folks in excellent physical shape struggle mightily above 12,500 on Rainier- they were not good at rationalizing the "why am I working so hard and moving so slow?" question that inevitably comes up for very fit sea-level dwellers at that altitude.

I've also seen not particularly fit people (myself included) have great climbs on Rainier. They simply follow the Kilimanjaro guide mantra: Pole, pole! (slowly, slowly). Taking three days for a DC or Emmons climb is very different, physically, from two days. I actually find two-day climbs more difficult than single-push.

The mental and physical ability to slowly plod along in low gear is, I believe, more important than how fast one can blitz up Si or Mailbox or Teneriffe or Cable Line. Rainier isn't about a 90 minute sprint; it's an ever-slower marathon.

So when you are training, mix in some hikes with heavier packs- as heavy or heavier than you would have on Rainier. And then endeavor to go bottom to top without stopping, or with very few, very short stops. This is, in my experience, a better indication that someone has acquired the physical endurance and mental flexibility that are helpful on Rainier.

Last thought: No one's rules, including mine, are hard and fast. Find what works for you and do that. And make sure you have some fun doing it.

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Schroder
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 12:21 pm 
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I'm not sure I've ever made it up Si in less than 2 hours and I don't believe speed is necessarily a measure of fitness.  I've been up Rainier at least 20 times & summited in one day from Paradise in winter but I had exceptional conditions to do it. I've always taken it slow and steady and found others to climb with that generally matched my pace. Mt Baker is a good place to warm up and experience the same conditions, particularly the Coleman Glacier route.
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williswall
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 1:22 pm 
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All good points....I think longer pushes are needed to prepare for the mental aspect. In the past I've done Si 3x in a row; if you can plod up and down for over 9000 feet of climb then you are at least prepping your grit factor. Being in that kind of shape will help when faced with the realities of glacier travel above 10,000 feet....not a "hike". Also a good prep, Muir and back at least twice...gets you a little altitude in.

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Pyrites
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 6:53 pm 
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Purcell Mountain trail, out and back in one day?

Would that be a better training trail?
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Malachai Constant
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 7:23 pm 
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Regarding altitude it is not really the top altitude attained but rather the duration. Himalayan rule is go high sleep low. People in very good shape can often climb to the summit from paradise IF they can get back down. Arriving at Muir I usually felt fine. If I slept there and woke up I often felt lousy. In most all cases if felt better after hiking up further. Not all have the same result in the 1970s there was a student in the UW climbing class who felt ill at 10k. The leader let them rest at the Roman wall as the rest of the class summited, when they got back the student had died of PE. This led to the end of the UW class for several years and lawsuits. The lesson is if someone is sick send them down not alone even if the summit is lost. A climb is not complete until you arrive home intact.

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Brian R
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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 8:03 pm 
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x2 above. FWIW, pulse oximeters have become so inexpensive and light, it's almost a must to have one along now. If you're feeling marginally crappy and your O2 reading is getting low, it's probably time to do a 180.
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