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Rainier Permit Logistics


Original Post
Sean M · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 25

I've done searching for details on this, but the NPS website doesn't discuss specifics at all. When you apply for a permit to camp at Camp Muir, is it for a specific night(s), or do you get a range? If the weather turns, is the reservation worthless? If we apply for a permit when they open March 15 for 4th of July weekend, are chances good we'll get one, or is it super-competitive? We're trying to get a handle on how everything works before the system opens up.

Edit: to clarify, trying to plan a trip from the East Coast, so we need to be pretty confident we'll be able to get a permit before we book flights and vacation time. Hoping to make a 5 day trip to give us some window to get up via the Ingraham/DC route.

Thanks


Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365

Permits are for the whole season, so as long as you have one you are good to go any day.  However on the weekend the huts are first come first serve and fill up, as well as there being limited number of spots for tents.

i would recommend shooting for a week day and you will have no problems.  Also aside from the camping permit you still have to pay the climbing rescue fee at the ranger station. Hope that helps 

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
Dan Cooksey wrote:

Permits are for the whole season, so as long as you have one you are good to go any day.  However on the weekend the huts are first come first serve and fill up, as well as there being limited number of spots for tents.

i would recommend shooting for a week day and you will have no problems.  Also aside from the camping permit you still have to pay the climbing rescue fee at the ranger station. Hope that helps 

If I remember correctly you buy a climbing permit for the whole season but you still need to get an over night permit at the high Camp’s for specific dates, whether you’re in the huts or not. Having a permit at Muir or Schurman, for example is not the same as a climbing permit. Unless they’ve changed it over the past 5 years. 

Sean M · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 25
mediocre wrote:

If I remember correctly you buy a climbing permit for the whole season but you still need to get an over night permit at the high Camp’s for specific dates, whether you’re in the huts or not. Having a permit at Muir or Schurman, for example is not the same as a climbing permit. Unless they’ve changed it over the past 5 years. 

That's what I thought. I just wasn't sure what out-of-towners did. Should I try to get reservations for a 3-5 night span, even though I'll only use a single one? Just not sure how it works.

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
Sean M wrote:

That's what I thought. I just wasn't sure what out-of-towners did. Should I try to get reservations for a 3-5 night span, even though I'll only use a single one? Just not sure how it works.

I would never promote using permit space you don’t need, but if I were coming out from the east coast I would do what I needed to do to be successful. 

diepj · · PDX · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

I would do the 3-5 night span. If you come down early the later nights would be released to walk-ups.

For the 4th weekend I would make sure it went through before committing resources. That is probably the most in-demand time for permits/reservations. 

Andy Novak · · Golden, Co · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 370
Dan Cooksey wrote:

Permits are for the whole season, so as long as you have one you are good to go any day.  However on the weekend the huts are first come first serve and fill up, as well as there being limited number of spots for tents.

i would recommend shooting for a week day and you will have no problems.  Also aside from the camping permit you still have to pay the climbing rescue fee at the ranger station. Hope that helps 

This is not correct. The NPS website HERE is pretty straight forward. You need an annual climbing permit which is different than camping reservations.  Some spots (60%) at Muir are reservable in advance, the rest are walk up. Reserving 5 nights for an ascent of the DC just to guarantee a spot is selfish and I'm not sure if thats even possible/allowed. Apply for the 4th and hope you get it (you might not). I believe you apply for 1st choice and possible back ups if your date range is not available. You will be notified within a couple weeks if you got your dates. The weather could be shit but thats mountaineering. You could delay your climb a few days and hope for a walk up. I'd think you will get a permit and the weather will be fine.   

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 322
Sean M wrote:

I've done searching for details on this, but the NPS website doesn't discuss specifics at all. When you apply for a permit to camp at Camp Muir, is it for a specific night(s), or do you get a range? If the weather turns, is the reservation worthless? If we apply for a permit when they open March 15 for 4th of July weekend, are chances good we'll get one, or is it super-competitive? We're trying to get a handle on how everything works before the system opens up.

Edit: to clarify, trying to plan a trip from the East Coast, so we need to be pretty confident we'll be able to get a permit before we book flights and vacation time. Hoping to make a 5 day trip to give us some window to get up via the Ingraham/DC route.

Thanks


July 4th is known to be the most popular climbing day here. The Muir hut can kind of be a shitshow if it is full and isn’t 1000% sanitary in my opinion. I’d plan on camping if I were you. You can rent tents at RMI or REI if you don’t have one. I personally like the Direkt2 (or similar), most people bring huge tents but it is unnecessary during that season in my opinion. 

Sean M · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 25
Chris C. wrote:

July 4th is known to be the most popular climbing day here. The Muir hut can kind of be a shitshow if it is full and isn’t 1000% sanitary in my opinion. I’d plan on camping if I were you. You can rent tents at RMI or REI if you don’t have one. I personally like the Direkt2 (or similar), most people bring huge tents but it is unnecessary during that season in my opinion. 


Great, thanks for the info. I should clarify that we aren't planning on climbing the 4th itself. Our rough itinerary:

Wednesday (4th): Fly from east coast to Seattle, camp somewhere in the proximity of Rainier.

Thursday (5th): Hike up to Camp Muir

Friday (6th): Summit, descend

Saturday (7th): Buffer day to shift schedule for weather

Sunday (8th): Fly out. 


Is the entire 4th week usually crazy busy? Alternatively we were thinking about the same itinerary, but for the days preceding 4th of July (Saturday- Wednesday). Any advantages to either one?



GregMiller Miller · · Westminster, CO · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 30

I'd recommend getting permits for two nights (July 5th, 6th) at Muir. If weather is good, you get a rest night before you descend. If weather is bad, you have an extra day to sit around, then have to summit and descend the 7th. If weather is still bad, I can't imagine you'll want to sit around longer than that. You can also provide alternative itineraries, that they will try to fill if your ideal itinerary is not available (since they filled their slots with other permits before yours). I might suggest these as your options:
1) First night Muir, second night Muir
2) First night Muir, second night Ingraham Flats (If you have good weather, you summit the 6th and descend that day. If weather is bad, you move camp up to Ingraham on the 6th, and have a higher start for the 7th.)
3) First night Ingraham, second night Ingraham (longer approach on the 5th, shorter summit day).

Another option for camping is on the Muir snowfield, although I'm less familiar with that.

Jordan W · · NC · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 30
GregMiller wrote:

I'd recommend getting permits for two nights (July 5th, 6th) at Muir. If weather is good, you get a rest night before you descend. If weather is bad, you have an extra day to sit around, then have to summit and descend the 7th. If weather is still bad, I can't imagine you'll want to sit around longer than that. You can also provide alternative itineraries, that they will try to fill if your ideal itinerary is not available (since they filled their slots with other permits before yours). I might suggest these as your options:
1) First night Muir, second night Muir
2) First night Muir, second night Ingraham Flats (If you have good weather, you summit the 6th and descend that day. If weather is bad, you move camp up to Ingraham on the 6th, and have a higher start for the 7th.)
3) First night Ingraham, second night Ingraham (longer approach on the 5th, shorter summit day).

Another option for camping is on the Muir snowfield, although I'm less familiar with that.

+1 for Option #2

Having a second night at Ingraham Flats makes everything so much nicer. Hiking to Muir and then leaving for the top a few hours later kind of sucks. The move up to the Flats is a good rest day, and the Flats is one of the coolest camp sites ever. 

Sean M · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 25
Jordan W wrote:

+1 for Option #2

Having a second night at Ingraham Flats makes everything so much nicer. Hiking to Muir and then leaving for the top a few hours later kind of sucks. The move up to the Flats is a good rest day, and the Flats is one of the coolest camp sites ever. 

Great tips! Is the Flats area as sheltered from the wind? The tent I have is more of a 3-season (alps mountaineering chaos). If camping at the flats should I plan on renting a heavy-duty one?

Thanks

Jordan W · · NC · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 30
Sean M wrote:

Great tips! Is the Flats area as sheltered from the wind? The tent I have is more of a 3-season (alps mountaineering chaos). If camping at the flats should I plan on renting a heavy-duty one?

Thanks

It will be really dependant on the weather I think... When I was there in late July last year, a 3-season tent with a ground tarp would have been perfectly fine, just guy it out to be safe. There was a mix of 3-season and 4-season tents at the flats. 

The Flats aren't quite as sheltered as Muir is, just because there isn't a ridge you can hide behind, so it is open to ESE/SE winds. It is pretty sheltered from most other directions though. It's definitely worth spending a night up there in my opinion (if you have the time), it's a beautiful area to chill, extra 1100ft. or so will help with acclimatization, and it cuts a good 1hr.+ off your summit day. Less of a chance of getting behind a slow, guided group.


Ingraham Flats tent scene:

Andy Novak · · Golden, Co · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 370
Jordan W wrote:

+1 for Option #2

Having a second night at Ingraham Flats makes everything so much nicer. Hiking to Muir and then leaving for the top a few hours later kind of sucks. The move up to the Flats is a good rest day, and the Flats is one of the coolest camp sites ever. 

I'd have to disagree on this. Muir to the Flats is like 45-60 mins. Moving camp sucks and is totally unnecessary. Guided groups doing 3-5 day mountaineering courses are pretty much the only people that camp there so they can practice crevasse rescue 50 feet from camp. Camping at Muir makes both days about 4,000 feet of gain each and totally reasonable.  

Jordan W · · NC · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 30
Andy Novak wrote:

I'd have to disagree on this. Muir to the Flats is like 45-60 mins. Moving camp sucks and is totally unnecessary. Guided groups doing 3-5 day mountaineering courses are pretty much the only people that camp there so they can practice crevasse rescue 50 feet from camp. Camping at Muir makes both days about 4,000 feet of gain each and totally reasonable.  

 I just don't like Muir honestly. It's a madhouse, it stinks and its always loud. There were a group of dudes playing guitar until 11PM last time I stayed there. Trying to go to sleep after 15 renditions of Smoke On the Water started to grate on me after a while....

If I'm on that side of the mountain again, I plan on just carrying up to the Flats. Especially if you've never been there before, it's a sweet place to set up camp vs. Muir.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 476

If you're in good aerobic shape just don't camp. Leave the parking lot around 9pm and enjoy the muir snowfield while it's cool (even better with a full moon to light your way). At a casual pace you should be above the cleaver to watch the sunrise below on Ingraham flats. You'll be back to the car late in the afternoon the next day to enjoy a beer with happy shoulders from only having to carry a 20L pack. 

This is definitely not the way to go for everyone, especially if you don't have experience at altitude, but it is an option. 

Stagg54 Taggart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 10
Andy Novak wrote:

Reserving 5 nights for an ascent of the DC just to guarantee a spot is selfish and I'm not sure if thats even possible/allowed. 

I agree with you, but if the system encourages it and causes people to feel that is their best option, then maybe we should change the system?

Andy Novak · · Golden, Co · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 370
Stagg54 Taggart wrote:

I agree with you, but if the system encourages it and causes people to feel that is their best option, then maybe we should change the system?

How does the system encourage it?  

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 322
Sean M wrote:


Great, thanks for the info. I should clarify that we aren't planning on climbing the 4th itself. Our rough itinerary:

Wednesday (4th): Fly from east coast to Seattle, camp somewhere in the proximity of Rainier.

Thursday (5th): Hike up to Camp Muir

Friday (6th): Summit, descend

Saturday (7th): Buffer day to shift schedule for weather

Sunday (8th): Fly out. 


Is the entire 4th week usually crazy busy? Alternatively we were thinking about the same itinerary, but for the days preceding 4th of July (Saturday- Wednesday). Any advantages to either one?



I would personally shoot for the days before the 4th, especially if you are set on staying at the Muir Hut.  A lot of people like to begin the ascent on the 4th it seems - just as a mental thing.  Your schedule looks pretty chill, and with that extra day you will almost certainly nail it.  Most people say that the 4th of July weekend is pretty much the best weather weekend of the year on Rainier. (Hence all the people!)  The Muir Hut is seriously one of my least favorite places though.  It's pretty much left to the climbers to keep it clean, which means that trash accumulates (usually food trash too).  All the snow around the hut should be suspect to human waste contamination as well. That plus tons of people crowded into a hot room covered in condensation doesn't do it for me in the sanitation department.  I am a pretty heavy sleeper, but many people find noise a problem as well.  I find it totally worth it to carry up a 3lb tent and stay in that.

For camping in the proximity, that is totally doable.  It would be a lot of travel for one day though.  I would personally consider getting a hotel in Tacoma rather than camping.  Tacoma in between Seatac Airport and Rainier (and not typically very expensive).  It could give you guys a chance to eat one last good meal, pick stuff up at the grocery store, have a beer, etc.  

Stagg54 Taggart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 10
Andy Novak wrote:

How does the system encourage it?  

when you come from the other side of the country and it forces you to pick a single day 6 months out...

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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