Camp Muir Mt. Rainier Day Hike Tips

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On The Move Pebble train hike 51405

My Climb For Clean Air Team hiking up to Camp Muir

This route isn’t for everyone since it is exposed and does involve substantial snow travel and may require good route finding skills. Fierce storms can come in rapidly and dramatically 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.

It is imperative that you check the weather forecast and only go in optimal conditions. Plan ahead and take the things you would need to survive if conditions change.

Refer to this packing list for what to bring on this hike. And refer to this blog about my last day trip up to Camp Muir so you know what to expect.

Maria Faires, RD is a mountaineering fitness and nutrition expert. 


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 mineral sunscreen containing zinc oxide to these frequently overlooked areas in addition to all exposed skin. Be sure to use sunscreen on your lips and the 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. Do not drink alcohol the day before. 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. If you feel nauseas suck on a hard peppermint candy or chew peppermint gum. Being overheated can cause you to not feel well. Take off a layer if needed.

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.

The Plunge Step

Take a step and land on you heel first, letting the weight of your whole body make a depression in the snow. Keep your knees slightly bent.

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:

Maria Faires, RD is a mountaineering fitness and nutrition expert. 

Map: Green Trails Paradise No. 270S

Please print this and bring with your compass:

Information about the hike:


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