Below are the entries from my camping journal concerning preparations for my trip to Rainier.
Although of a personal nature, they may offer some more information for those interested.
They do contain hyperlinks to sources for equipment and information.

"Ron's Rainier Quest"

June 7, 1997 - Ok, I finally told myself I'd make the climb. After a few years of having this idea in the back of my mind, I'm finally going to do it. The decision was spurred on by my requesting an REI Adventures travel catalog and discovering that they offer a climbing seminar and summit attempt. It looks like just what I've had in mind, so I'm gonna go for it. I won't know the dates until I get the '98 catalog, but if it's like this year, I'll probably shoot for the May trip. I've talked to Suzie (my wife) about it and she supports me, the only condition is "I have to come back". So, now it's time to start the research...

June 15, 1997 - Yahoo! Suzie gave me the video "Trailside - Climbing Mount Rainier" for an anniversary present. Also a book, "50 Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park" which has some good information in it too. She said that was to show her support for my trip, I'm very grateful for that. At this point, I'm thinking about what I need to buy - some good shell clothing for sure, maybe a new sleeping bag. I spent some time at the library and bookstores this weekend, I think I need to get a copy of the book "Mountaineering - The Freedom of the Hills". It seems to be regarded as the definitive guide to learning mountaineering skills.

July 8, 1997 - Equipment update ... On July 1st, I received my shell pants from Campmor. They are Red Ledge brand, marketed as Camp-Tech High Peaks Extreme pants in the Campmor catalog.   Yesterday, July 7, I received my shell jacket from REI. I got the Mountain Light jacket made by The North Face in the color yellow gold.  Also, on July 3rd I received a copy of the book "Mountaineering - The Freedom of the Hills" which I ordered from Adventurous Traveler Bookstore. I've flipped through it and it looks pretty neat. Oh yeah, also yesterday, I received a map of Mount Rainier National Park that I had ordered with the book but was backordered.

September 17, 1997 - The research continues ... Back on August 7th, we got our computer. Since then, I've been gleaning information off the Internet. There are good websites for the national park and lots of people talking about Rainier. It will be nice to be able to write to people who have actually been there, as I plan to do. I've even found a person or two who's taken the exact trip I'm planning. Still reading the book also.

November 21, 1997 - Well, up until now it’s been all talk, but today I made it official, I called REI Adventures and signed up for the May trip. I spoke with Rusty. I should get the detailed information packet next week. Coincidentally, it is exactly six months before the day that should be our summit day on the trip.

December 9, 1997 - I’ve received my information packet which includes a detailed gear list. There are a few things I don’t have. I’ll buy the things that I can continue to use on my regular backpacking trips (or not offered for rent), and rent the items that are specific to mountaineering. It looks like I’ll be buying (if I don’t get for Christmas) gaiters, a warm hat, waterproof shell overmitts, campshoes and some ski goggles. I plan to rent climbing boots, crampons, ice ax, ski poles and a parka. Most of the other required equipment and accessories I already have. The list also specifies a sleeping bag rated at 0 -15 degrees which I didn’t have, but I’ve ordered from Campmor The North Face Foxfire (long), which is rated at 5 degrees.  It is 750+ fill power down and weights 3lbs and 3oz. The other items I’ve put on my Christmas list.

December 25, 1997 - YeeHaaa! For Christmas Suzie gave me some OR gaiters, OR Gore-Tex shell overmitts and some Sierra Designs down booties for camp shoes. I received on the 24th the winter hat I had ordered from REI, and I had received my sleeping bag from Campmor on December 10th.

February 4, 1998 - The research continues… Back on the January 1st , I received another book I ordered from Adventurous Traveler Bookstore: "The Measure of a Mountain". It’s about a guy’s quest to come to know Rainier, and ultimately summit. It contains lots of information about the mountain including it’s history and geology .

February 12, 1998 -
I called REI Adventures and they made my airline reservations today. They’ve also made me a reservation at the Quality Inn by the airport for that night. Looks like I’ll be leaving Birmingham at 5:45 am and arriving in Seattle at 11:01 am. Then when I start home, leaving Seattle at 3:00 pm and arriving back in Birmingham at 11:16 pm. I’m going up a day early for some extra time to keep from being so rushed on the day we go to Paradise. I’m looking forward to having some time to see some of Seattle. Oh, and by the way, by leaving on Saturday (the 16th) instead of Sunday, I’ll save over $1000.00 on air fare.

February 17, 1998 - 90 days to go! I am now "officially" in training. I’ve been working out very regularly since the first of the year and now I plan to start gradually increasing my leg work. I went to Carto-Craft yesterday and picked up a map of the Mount LeConte area for our trip there in April, and ordered the two quads that cover most of Mount Rainier. (Mount Rainier East, Mount Rainier West)

February 28, 1998 - Last week I finished reading "The Challenge of Rainier". Suzie had checked it out from the library for me. It was very interesting, although being written in 1971, not as "up to date" as "The Measure of a Mountain" which was written just last year. But it contained a lot more history of the mountain.

March 10, 1998 - I had a physical done today. (There’s a doctor’s release form required by REI for trips rated strenuous) Everything checked out fine and the doctor says I’m "good to go!"

March 17, 1998 - 60 days to go! I mailed the last of the paperwork last week and OK’d the charge for the remaining balance. Everything seems to be finalized now. Time to up the ante on the workouts. I’ve been walking with 30 pounds in my daypack and 2 pound ankle weights on, today I changed to my big pack containing a 50 pound bag of dog food and still wear the ankle weights. I went hiking on the dirt roads behind the house and went out to the gas line. I found some pretty good hills there, short but steep. It’s a strange mindset when hiking to try to find the hardest path and take that. If nothing else, I’m gonna have one well-traveled bag of dog food when this is over. Also getting used to using my new Leki trekking poles. So far, I really like them.

April 17, 1998 - 30 days to go! I’ve been training very steadily now for two months. Our trip to LeConte went very well last week and the training paid off in the Smokys as well. Although the trail was steep in places, I never really felt challenged by it, I actually enjoyed the climb! Oh yeah, as a result of all this training, all of my pants are now too big in the waist.

May 6, 1998 - 10 days to go! I’ve managed to pick up everything on my gear list by now (except the stuff I’m going to rent) and have been concentrating on my training. I’ve had some good hikes out at Oak Mountain. Suzie has accompanied me on a few of them and it was nice to have her along. This last Saturday we saw a snake sunning itself on the trail, she didn’t like that very well. During today’s workout, it began to rain, I thought "Shoot, gonna have to hike in the rain", but then it stopped. But, just after I got under way headed for the gas line, it started back. "Oh well" I said to myself, remembering how I used to love to play in the rain as a child, "Can’t stop training just because it starts raining". Who knows, I may have to start off for Rainier in the rain.
  But I have to say, there’s a part of me that will be glad when this is over and I can get back to a "normal" life. It’s now quite warm and training has become a very hot, sweaty, buggy, itchy ordeal for me as I much prefer cooler weather. Plus, I’ve had to let all of my home projects slide to make time for the training. Suzie is to be commended for her patience and tolerance. But one thing I will miss about training...being able to eat any amount of anything and still not gain weight. A word about my knees. Since July, when I made the decision to go on this trip, I’ve been doing squats in an effort to strengthen my legs to avert my knees "blowing out" on me as they have done before. I seem to have had some measure of success in this as I have not had to wear my braces on any of these training hikes and they have been farther and I’ve carried more weight than on my "regular" backpacking trips. I’m sure the use of my trekking poles has been beneficial also.

May 16, 1998 - YaaHoooo! I'm outta here (3:45 am). Got a plane to catch at 5:45.


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