Mt. Rainier & Mt. Baker back-to-back

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  • #38262
    Kyle Brundage

    Anyone have any experience doing Rainier (DC) and Baker (Easton Glacier) routes in the same week? Right now I have it on the schedule for Rainier the 10-12 and Baker 14-16 of August. This gives me at least a day to recover before the next climb much like some bigger routes. I was not sure if it would be better to save energy for Rainier, and tackle the easier climb next or use Baker to get some altitude in before Rainier but my main concern is being sore from getting downhill before starting Baker the 14th.

    I have been up Rainier in Sept. 2017 & Sept. 2019, both times unable to summit beyond the Cleaver due to team fitness lacking or weather – I did my own workouts in 2017 which was a monumental effort on the mountain compared to following the Uphill Athlete 16-week time crunch plan last year, which made getting to Ingraham Flats a breeze in comparison.

    I am hoping it will prepare me for an Aconcagua trip sometime Dec to Feb 2021 and build up some mental toughness as well. Would love to hear your experiences and advice!

Posted In: Mountaineering

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    Anonymous on #38332

    It seems like a lot of factors have to be in your favor for the two routes to be done so close together.

    One day is not a lot of recovery at all unless your training volume is very high and you’re accustomed to that amount of work in one week.

    Also, if team fitness was a factor in the past, is it going to be a factor again? Even if you’re fit enough to do both, if your team isn’t, then your fitness may be wasted.

    Kyle Brundage on #38342

    Hi Scott,

    Thank you for your reply. These are guided trips between IMG and AAI – with Rainier summit attempt on the 12th, I’ll have the 13th free before a day of 2775ft gain/3.75miles/35lb pack on the 14th. I am thinking it won’t be so bad since the 12th will be downhill and 14th is uphill and might recruit different muscles. The 15th is just “skills” at camp, so I would almost consider this another rest/recover day before Baker summit attempt which is 4681ft gain, 15lb pack for 3 miles. I am hoping with Rainier’s summit this will mentally make it feel like a breeze.

    I’d like to see if I can hit about 16-20,000ft/gain in a single week sometime before departing, mostly at or below AeT. The IMG trip in Sept. 2017 we made it to the top of the Cleaver, but so many climbers had to turn around we were down to the last 2 guides before one of the 3 climbers left wanted to go back down. Fortunately the AAI trip last year went much smoother, however the weather stopped us from even leaving the Flats.

    Unfortunately I can’t control the team’s fitness or the weather, but obviously I do not plan on being the weak link here. When I spoke with climbers from last year, I don’t think any of them with exception to the guides had read TftNA or used its principles (which could be expected since it attracts many novice climbers).

    Anonymous on #38373

    It’s pretty tough to make any recommendations without knowing a lot of details about your fitness and training. (More than we could cover in a forum thread, I’m afraid.)

    Some folks could do these back-to-back on consecutive days and others would need a week to recover. It’s all about fitness and work capacity.

    Something to consider is that, with this schedule, your Baker ascent will be at the mercy of your recovery from Rainier. If you’re not recovered enough, it could compromise your attempt on Baker.

    If you had good results with the 16-week plan, you may want to consider moving on to the 24-week plan. You can never be too fit, so the more preparation, the better.

    changpeng on #38395

    In August 2018 my girlfriend and I climbed Mt Baker and Mt Rainier back to back. We first climbed the North Ridge of Mt Baker with AAI. After the descent we had 2 full recover days with driving being the most strenuous workout. Then we climbed Kautz Glacier on Mt Rainier ourselves with 2 other friends. We climbed the ice pitches on Kautz and reached some 12,500 ft and got turned by back the massive crevasse field before us. Though we felt fit enough for either mountain, we weren’t training back then, and on Mt Rainier we could definitely still feel the fatigue in the legs. But I still think that if the conditions were right, we could make the summit, and we would need to spend another night at high camp and descend the next day. We were lucky to have a long period of really nice weather in the Cascades then. If it was rough, we probably couldn’t have climbed as much.

    Kyle Brundage on #38407


    You are entirely correct about recommendations without knowing details. I am thankful Mt. Rainier comes first so recovery won’t be an issue there, this will be my 3rd attempt and 1st in early August so I hope this will finally be my year. Baker is just something ambitious I added on, I really enjoy these trips and wanted to fit something else (slightly) easier in. Worst case scenario I stick it out at high camp but I want to see where my mental toughness can take me if I want to do Aconcagua later this year or early 2021. Now that I look again in Training Peaks, I didn’t even do the 16-week but the 12-week time crunch and I saw an amazing level of difference compared to my own training in 2017. This speaks a lot since I had basically 0 cardio from powerlifting and was well overweight. To do the 24-week this year without needing to lose weight and having a decent base already I am excited to see where the program can take me.

    That sounds tough! I am not excited for the driving either. I am pretty sure the routes you went on are supposed to be more challenging than DC/Emmons, so it gives me confidence knowing someone else was able to put them together so closely. It’s a good reality check so I know I’m not biting off more than I can chew.

    Matt K on #39104

    FWIW In 2019 I reached the summit of Mt. Baker via the Easton Glacier route and Mt. Shuksan via the Fisher Chimneys/SE Ridge routes with 4 days rest in between. ‘Rest’ meaning 4 days of work and travel between MT and WA. I prepared using the 24 week expedition mountaineering plan and maintained a CTL of 90-100 for 4 weeks prior to the climbs. Training-wise, I felt the weighted (50 lbs) Zone 3 steep hikes (1600 ft per mile ascent & descent) in the late stage of the training plan were the ‘money’ workouts and contributed to both summit attempts feeling mostly automatic in regards to the demands on my body.

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