One of the amazing things about living in the Pacific Northwest is our proximity to the great outdoors, and one of the great geographical icons in the area is Mount Rainier. Standing 14,411 feet tall from sound to summit, it is home to the tallest peak in the Cascade Range and some of the largest glaciers in the US south of Alaska. Summiting Mt. Rainier is no small task, but it is one that our very own chiropractor Dr. Curt Rindal attempted in mid July. Unfortunately his team was turned away at 11,100 feet due to high winds and near white-out conditions. To get the lowdown on going up Rainier, we asked Dr. Curt what it takes to prepare for the “Big One.”
Occasionally, certain situations or events in life can’t be controlled, but it’s how you react to them that truly determines success.Dr. Curt Rindal
- Q: What made you decide to attempt a climb of Mt. Rainier?
- I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and have spent a lot of time camping and hiking in the Pacific Northwest. A few years ago my wife Tracy and I completed our trip to Yosemite National Park by climbing Half Dome. I realized how fun it was to prepare for a climb and the sense of accomplishment that comes along with it. Mt. Rainier had been on my mind ever since.
- Q: How did you focus your training for such a grueling climb?
- I focused on aerobic workouts, intensity workouts such as intervals (4x4’s) and strength (legs, shoulders and core). Later in my training I started making climbs of Tiger Mountain, Mt. Si and up to Camp Muir on Mt. Rainier.
- Q: Mt. Rainier can be a treacherous place, especially with so many glaciers to traverse. What skills are necessary for a safe ascent?
- You want to have good rope rescue skills, good ice axe skills, and good glacier travel skills. I practiced on an earlier climb to Camp Muir, climbed easier peaks with a heavy backpack (45-50 lbs) and got creative at Gas Works Park practicing crevasse rescue skills.
- Q: How did you stay healthy leading up to the climb?
- I knew with how busy my wife Tracy and I keep our schedule I would have to be creative in utilizing resources when I could. Of course I used InHealth’s great team of providers throughout my training! My recovery routine (proper nutrition, stretching) and sleep habits were extremely important as well to allow my body to recover from the training fatigue of the last several months
- Q: How did you decide on what gear was necessary?
- This is a technical climb with the risk of extreme weather, so there are a lot of components when selecting gear. As a reference I used the gear list that some of the major mountain guiding companies here in Washington recommend. I also spent quite a bit of time trying on gear, testing gear and figuring out how I was going to keep it to around 40 lbs.
- Q: The National Park Service states that about 10,000 people attempt the summit of Mt. Rainier each year and about 50% succeed. What did you learn from NOT reaching the summit?
- We had a great sports psychologist while I played baseball at UW and one of the first things he taught me was the importance of visualization. I didn’t see myself doing anything other than reaching the summit and safely back down to the parking lot. However, that wasn’t the case and I’m glad he also taught me the ability to learn from defeat and move on. Sometimes the best and most effective decision is to take a step back and evaluate the situation. Mt. Rainer is not going anywhere and I learned really quickly that the mountain has it’s own weather system and follows no rules.I’d be lying if I said it only took me a few days to stop thinking about a way to get back up there. In the end life is about perspective. Looking back, I got the chance to learn a new skill, push myself physically and mentally and see a sunrise at 11,100 feet. Occasionally, certain situations or events in life can’t be controlled, but it’s how you react to them that truly determines success.
- Q: It seems to me that the experience was well worth it, even if you didn't reach the summit.
- It was. I truly enjoyed the chance to get out there in the snow with a team, to work hard and to see the beauty that Mt. Rainier has to offer. I think it’s safe to say I’ll give it another go next season. Plus, my wife, Tracy, was very supportive of the climb and she was thrilled with our decision to stay safe. That was a win in itself.