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Notes from Mount Rainier

Last winter, Rock/Creek hosted a “Dream Climb” giveaway in conjunction with Outdoor Research and International Mountain Guides: we’d outfit two people with OR Apparel and send them off to climb Mount Rainier.

Tessa was the lucky winner, and we caught up with her to ask some questions about the experience and what gear she chose for the trip. Check out our interview with her (and her photos) below.

Oh, and congrats on the engagement!

 

Q: So, you guys are from the east coast. How did you prepare to go on a west coast adventure? Was the elevation a major concern?

Winning the Dream Climb was the ultimate motivation to get ourselves in to the best shape possible. After researching what this climb actually entailed, I was completely intimidated and realized that I was definitely not going to be making it to the summit without really putting in the time and effort to properly train. Although we do lots of hiking in NY, all of the mountains near us are tiny hills compared to Rainier!

International Mountain Guides provided a great training plan that we used as a guide during the months prior to our climb. We spent 5-6 days a week at the gym doing cardio and strength training exercises. I did a lot of running while Cody did a lot of biking. We also put our snow shoes to good use during the winter months and spent a lot of time hiking, each trip making our packs progressively heavier. I don’t think that you can prepare enough for this climb! Although I was still huffing and puffing up the mountain, the training really helped to increase my strength and endurance. Those are some long days of hiking and you need to be prepared to keep up with the group!

Luckily, the higher altitude didn’t effect us too much. Cody had a few brief periods of nausea, but they passed pretty quickly. We both made sure to stay as hydrated as possible during the climb, which I think really helped to prevent serious altitude sickness.

 

Q: What Outdoor Research gear did you choose for your trip? Which was your favorite?

Outdoor Research is really ahead of the game in terms of the fabrics they use and the overall comfort and functionality of their clothing. Every single article of clothing that I brought was put to good use! For the gear, I went with the following:

  • Virtuoso Hoody
  • Radiant Zip top
  • Ferrosi Hoody
  • Essence Tights
  • Cirque Pants
  • Highcamp mitts
  • Sensor Gloves
  • Luster Beanie
  • Echo S/S Tee
  • Flyaway tank

The Ferrosi Hoody is hands down the most versatile and breathable soft shell jacket that I have ever owned. The material is so stretchy and comfortable and it was definitely my go-to layer everyday during the climb. It offered great protection from the sun during the warmer days and was also perfect to wear over my down jacket in the colder, windier temperatures.

 

Q: What was the highlight of the trip for you? Which memory sticks out the most?

Leaving basecamp at 11pm and heading to the summit with only our headlamps to guide us was definitely the most adventurous and terrifying thing that I have ever done in my life. Crossing over ladder bridges and hopping over crevasses as I was roped to a team of 3 other people is just not something that anybody who knows me could picture me doing. Honestly, the entire climb was a highlight for me. Our guides and fellow climbers were pretty awesome and made the whole experience that much more memorable.

I guess that Cody felt that we made a good team on our climb, because he proposed the night that we finished our climb in Ashford! So that was definitely a major highlight as well 🙂

 

Q: Beyond the sweet new gear, do you have a pack list you could share? In hindsight, is there anything you wish you’d brought along?

There were definitely some items that you could not live without during the climb, sunscreen and chapstick being at the top of the list. That sun is no joke, and my lips were pretty burned and cracked by the end of the trip. Along with all of the clothing, necessities for the climb include:

  • Headlamp with lots of extra batteries
  • Extra pairs of socks
  • Gaiters -the crampons can easily shred your pants, so the gaiters saved my pants from being destroyed many times!
  • Lots of snacks-we took the advice of our guides and opted away from brining only energy bars,chews,gels, etc. Once you reach the higher altitudes, it becomes increasingly more difficult to eat as often as you should to keep your energy up. I was so glad that I brought real food with me (hummus, fruit, crackers, cheese, cookies, chocolate, peanut butter, trail mix)
  • Buff
  • Ibuprofen
  • Blister treatment
  • Drink mixes, iodine tablets
  • Glacier glasses- I had to rent these before we left and I am sure glad that I did!
  • Watch/altimeter

Ear plugs were one thing that I wished I had brought along. After a long day of climbing, there was a lot of snoring going on at the base camp!

  • Justin Bledsoe

    Thanks for the great article! Very informative. I hope to be able to make the climb soon. I’ve got family living right near there but just haven’t gotten around to it. Gotta fix that 🙂 -Justin