Rainier in a Day

Zach and I climbed the Ingraham Direct to the summit of Mt Rainier in 17 hours car to car on May 10-11th, 2019.  I’d been wanting to climb Rainier in a single push with extremely light packs, and things lined up perfectly to make it happen.  Zach was psyched, the forecast was perfect, and conditions were great.


After getting permits, eating dinner and packing gear, Zach suggested that we start moving at 7pm.  We’d originally planned on leaving the car closer to 9pm, but we couldn’t come up with a good reason to wait.  After arriving at Muir at 11pm, we melted some water and I dealt with some bad nausea that was undoubtedly caused by the shock of moving from near sea level to 10,000 feet in only a few hours.  Nevertheless, we departed Muir around midnight and pushed up the Ingraham glacier.  Ascending the Ingraham icefall involved plenty of switchbacks and some crevasse crossings that had ladders over them, thanks to the guide services.  Neither of us had previously used a ladder to cross a crevasse, which seemed much scarier than the normal jump across that I’m accustomed to.

Zach nearing the crater rim (14,000 feet) at sunrise.
On Columbia Crest, the summit of Mt Rainier at 14,411′.

We finally arrived on the true summit at 6am, eleven hours after leaving the car.  I felt surprisingly good aside from a minor headache and some dizziness.  We descended back into the crater to melt water before starting the loooong descent. We finally arrived at the car at noon.  Soon we were on the road back to Spokane, where we were home in time for dinner.

Zach descending back into the summit crater.  Feels like being on the moon up there!
On the scenic descent.  Photo: Zach
Crossing a crevasse in the Ingraham icefall.  Photo: Zach

This trip was an interesting contrast to my first Rainier experience in 2018 on Liberty Ridge, which is located on a much less popular side of the peak. The views were incredible and the opportunity to test our endurance with such light packs was a special treat, despite the crowds that these easier routes draw.

Strategy Notes

Leaving the car at 7pm was perfect for us – it makes sense to try to summit at or around sunrise.  This time of year, the route is maintained by guide services, removing any need for routefinding skills.  Wands were present every 100 feet or less and the bootpack provides a clear path to the summit.  Fixed pickets were present for major crevasse crossings to protect you as you cross the ladders placed for your convenience.

Gear Notes

Bring a rope and equipment to effect a rescue if someone falls in a crevasse.  Our packs weighed (roughly) 13lbs including food and water for the day.

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