Camp Muir Mt. Rainier Day Hike Tips

On The Move Pebble train hike 51405This route isn’t for everyone since it does involve substantial snow travel and may require good route finding skills. Fierce storms can come in and can bring a whiteout. It can get cold fast and the route can be obscured. Hikers have wandered blindly over cliffs so please be prepared by checking the weather forecast and road conditions before you go. Even if you expect good weather be prepared for sudden weather changes.

Refer to this packing list for what to bring on this hike.


It’s easy to get very sunburned when hiking on snow. The rays of the sun bounce off the snow and into places you’ve mostly likely never been burned before such as up your nose, inside your ears and up your shorts. Once an hour, stop, pat to dry off any sweaty areas and reapply a sunscreen containing zinc oxide to these frequently overlooked areas in addition to all exposed skin. Be sure to use sunscreen on your lips and parts in your hair.

Altitude Illness

Some people get altitude sickness and some people don’t, and some people are more susceptible than others. Most people can go up to 8,000 feet with minimal effect. If you haven’t been to high altitude before, be cautious. To prepare and minimize the effects: hydrate well the day before and stay properly hydrated during your hike. Eat and drink something at each rest stop. Take a dose of ibuprofen as you are gearing up. Utilize the rest step and pressure breathing.

Rest Step

The rest step that is used by mountain climbers to slow their cadence, rest their leg muscles and preserve their energy during a climb on steep terrain at altitude. Essentially, the “rest step” takes pressure and strain off quad and glute muscles and transfers it to the bone structure.

As you step forward, lock your rear knee and rest all of your weight on that rear leg. As you’re swinging your other leg forward, relax the muscles in that leg. Once your forward foot comes to rest on the ground, keep it relaxed so that there’s no weight on it. You can stop in that position for as long as you need to.

When you’re ready to take the next step, shift your weight to the front foot, step forward with the other and lock the rear knee again. Get into a rhythm much like a wedding march. Another tip: lead with your hips instead of your feet.

Be sure to walk slowly, steadily and take smaller steps. By walking more slowly, you can walk continuously without taking breaks. Walking more slowly prevents you from getting sweaty too quickly, keeping you warm and better hydrated. Synchronize breathing with this sequence.

Pressure Breathing

At higher elevations you’ll need to make a conscious effort to breathe deeply and often. Pressure breathing is used to provide extra oxygen to the working hiker at altitude.

During your rest step, inhale quickly, and fill your lungs completely, expanding both ribcage then exhale explosively through pursed lips, emptying your lungs in one big “whoosh” as if you were trying to blow out a giant candle.

Trekking Poles

Use trekking poles with a snow basket. This shifts effort from legs to arms, reduces shock on knees and back and help you keep your balance with a pack on ice and snow.

To determine the correct length:

When hiking on level ground, adjust the length of the poles so that when your upper arm is hanging straight down and your hand is on the handle, your forearm should be parallel with the ground.

If you are going uphill, a pole at elbow height or shorter may be preferable.

If descending a steep slope, lengthen the poles.

To put your straps on, put your hand through the appropriate strap from the bottom (straps are right- or left-specific) so your hand rests snugly around your wrist.

Helpful Resources:

Map: Green Trails Paradise No. 270S

Please print this and bring with your compass:

Information about the hike:



Camp Muir Mt. Rainier 1 Day Glacier Trip Hike Pack List

20160724_1147441 Day Glacier Trip Camp Muir Pack List

Check the weather forecast and adjust these items accordingly.

Backpack you are using for hike

Sit pad- optional but nice!

Large garbage bag to sit on if there is glissading

Compass and/or GPS- optional if going with someone else who has them and trail map with bearings

Map of trails

Trekking poles w/ baskets or ski poles


Fully charged cell phone


Ice ax- ask group leader if necessary

Money for food plus $25 for park entrance

Personal first aid kit: Ibuprofen–works best for altitude headaches, Blister kit, band aids, personal meds, wound care, peppermints or mint gum for nausea

Optional: Camp chair to have to use in the parking lot to gear up.


2 full water bottles (2 quarts total) AND 1 quart Gatorade or equivalent

Big Lunch Plus snacks: What worked well for me (a 120 pound woman) was a turkey and cheese sandwich, 1 cup cherries, 3 Kind bars and some nuts. I also pack a snack and water or the car ride there.


Kleenex and/or Toilet paper in ziplock. Roll of TP to leave at Camp Muir

Sunscreen: 45+ and waterproof

Lip balm with 15+sunscreen

Handwipes, about 5

Quickdry handtowel- use to wipe away sweat before applying sunscreen

CLOTHING  check weather updates

T-shirt- quick dry, wicking material

If over 50 degrees: Shorts, nylon or other quick dry, wicking material

If under 50 degrees: hiking pants

Fleece sweatshirt

Optional: Sunshade Technical Hoody

Waterproof shell jacket and pants

Brimmed hat

Warm ski cap

Ear Headband- optional

Bandana-white or other light color is best. Or use a rectangle of white fabric. Wear this under your hat to shield your ears and neck.

Gaiters, if >50 degrees use desert gaiters

Hiking socks 2 pairs

Lightweight gloves

Sturdy, watersealed, well-fitting hiking boots with big traction

Microspikes or Yak Trax

Glacier glasses or good quality sunglasses (the bigger the lens the better). You can make side shield with cardboard or foil and duct tape

If under 50 degrees: Long thermal wicking, underwear, top and bottom. Light colored is best.

If under 50 degrees: Warm gloves

If under 50 degrees: Extra warm fleece or down or wool jacket to have in case of severe cold


Tennis shoes or sandals

Snack and water to leave in car

Change of clothes for after- optional



Last Minute Tips Before Your Mountain Climb

Mt. Rainier Climb 012

Me crossing an ice bridge. An impressively beautiful crevasse to my left.

Get extra rest, decrease your hard workouts, and hydrate well the week before your climb.

The week before the climb, do not consume alcohol until after your climb.

Start packing today! Do not procrastinate. That can lead to anxiety and you want to feel calm.

Pack what you need but pack as lightly as you can. For instance, a dab of toothpaste in a plastic bag with your toothbrush rather than the whole travel tube. Too heavy of a pack going up to base camp can wipe you out.

Pressure breathe often after you leave base camp. This will help replenish ATP, the energy molecule you need, and help prevent getting nauseous.

Keep your pace slow and steady. One foot in front of the other.

Use the rest step, a lot!

Dress like your guide does so you maintain a comfortable and not sweaty temperature. Wear light colored clothing to reflect the heat.

Before your breaks have a plan for what you need to do at your break because your breaks are short: adjust clothing, reapply sunscreen, go to the bathroom, take an Ibuprofen, etc.

Focus on the moment and the technical aspects. Ice ax in uphill hand, rest step, pressure breathe.

Eat at every break even if you don’t feel like it. Drink often. Add powdered Gatorade or Cytomax to your water.

Be your own motivational coach. “I have trained hard for this I can do it. All I have to do is keep walking one foot in front of the other. I’m ready for this. I can and will do it. ” Picture yourself standing on the summit. Clear your mind of all self-doubts.

Ask for support from your guide if you need it. Offer support and encouragement to your teammates.

Focus on your breathing and heart rate. Get into a pace and you’ll start climbing like a machine. Play music in your mind and keep the beat going on.

You will feel physical discomfort. This isn’t necessarily a “warning alarm”. Do you need to slow down, take off a layer, pressure breathe or rest step more, drink or eat more? Discern what is danger pain and what is just plain discomfort.

Good luck and enjoy your journey! I will be anxiously awaiting news about your climb.